He is No Domesticated Deity

HA few weeks ago, I ran into a man that I haven’t seen in several years. He claims to be a believer, but he also claims to be mad at God. He loves LeRoy, and several times he expressed to me how it just doesn’t make sense what has happened to him. Then he moved on to talk about the horrific tragedies of life: children being killed by drunk drivers, children dying of cancer . . . all those kinds of things that make no sense to us. “Why would God do that?” he was asking.

My answer was the same I give to everyone. I know that God has a good purpose, and that He desires to use this to bring Himself glory.

Yes, it is strange and puzzling to me that God would remove my husband from ministry (hopefully only temporarily)—a man that is the most godly individual I’ve ever known, who I’m privileged to serve as his caregiver, who I’d rather hear communicate the Word of God than any preacher I’ve ever sat under . . . it is just perplexing that God chose to “put him on the shelf” right now. But one thing I do know—God is wise and He is good, and He proved His love for us at the cross . . . so I know that this trial isn’t because God does not love us or because God is unjust.

This trial is for God’s glory.

“But how does a kid getting hit by a car bring God glory?” the man asked.

I told him that the horrific event is not what brings God glory. God hates destruction and the chaos that depravity has brought to our lives . . . but God uses those things to accomplish His purposes. God is not glorified by the evil or the trauma . . . but He is glorified by our response to those things. God gets glory when our response is to trust Him, to worship Him in the pain (as Job did), and as we convey to others that He is worthy of our trust and worship.

When we worship during our pain and suffering, it validates the reality of the God whom we serve.  

I’ve been studying the book of James this month, and it’s been such a helpful read in this season. James provides a joyful perspective for trials. (In the next few weeks, I may be sharing a few lessons I’m gleaning from the study.) He wrote to believers who were facing real challenges.

James opens with an invitation to joyfully embrace trials that will produce spiritual maturity, and the book closes with an invitation to live out your faith in evangelism. “Joyfully embracing trials” seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But, as is obvious, if you’ve walked with God for any amount of time, God doesn’t usually do things exactly the way we would. He often takes us on surprising turns.

God is no “tame lion” or domesticated deity, you know.

James wrote this letter during a time when Christians were enduring intense persecution under Herod Agrippa (see Acts 12). The first century was a dangerous time to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. It was “risky” to be known as a Christian, in fact, less than two decades after James penned these words he would be martyred for the faith.

Because of the persecution, many Jewish believers scattered from Jerusalem and the surrounding area. And to these new believers that were living under threat of death, suffering from persecution, and the upheaval of being forced from their homes and livelihood, James delivered an astounding imperative:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2–3)

How in the world can he tell these poor sufferers to consider their trial joy? What is up with that?

In a comfort-driven culture, it seems odd to couple the word “joy” with affliction, persecution, or trial. But the joy James is challenging us to embrace is not a “Pollyanna” cheerfulness produced from a “name it and claim it” theology or a self-induced positive attitude.

It may sound crazy, but joy and intense trial can coexist.

This verse from 1 Peter has helped me understand how to view trials with a perspective of joy:

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19).

Joy is a byproduct of trust. When we realize that we can “entrust” ourselves to our “faithful Creator,” knowing what He does is right, then joy becomes the companion of trust.

Our ability to “trust” while walking through trial depends on our view of God.

If we truly believe two things about God, we will be able to place our trust in Him. We must first know that God is God and I am not. In other words, God is the only One with the right to rule my life. He is my Creator, therefore He has every right to choose what He does with His creation. He is my Redeemer, therefore He has every right to what He allows to happen to His possession.

He is God. This means that He is sovereign, ruler, deity, almighty. He is God.

Secondly, we must know that God is good. God’s character is faithfulness, truthfulness, justice, and mercy, love in its purest form—holy and compassionate. Jesus proved His love by pouring out His blood on the cross, atoning for the wrath I deserved, even while I was dead in my sin. God is good, and because He is good—I can trust Him more implicitly than any other being.

When we view our circumstances of life through the grid of God’s sovereignty, we can trust that God is able to take every painful event, every instance of suffering and beautifully weave it into His plan.

As I walked away from the man in the grocery store, my prayer was that he would think about the wonder of a God who doesn’t do things the way we might expect, or even want, but that this God is worthy of our allegiance and worship—even when we don’t understand what He’s doing. That this God is so wise that He can take the depravity and injustice of a fallen world and still bring redemptive and life-giving works out of the chaos.

The only way to resolve the perplexing conflict of man’s suffering with the reality of God’s sovereignty is through the lens of the cross. That is where His goodness and love was demonstrated. That is where He proved that He is trustworthy. That is why we can count it all joy when we meet trials.

The cross explains how God is brought glory through the worst that man can do.

Dear reader, are you struggling with trial today? How might we pray for you?

Dear Friends, your prayers are a tangible means of God’s grace in our lives. If you are new to the blog, and unaware of what we’re walking through and how we need your prayers, I hope you’ll read this post from the archives. Even though I’m unable to respond to your comments, I do read every one. For those who share prayer needs, I lift those to the Father and am so grateful to be entrusted with your prayer request. I love to hear from you, so please continue to leave your comments knowing that they matter!T



  1. Posted by Rose Betty

    Am really encouraged by your words of encouragement which are so timely and to know that in the midst of trials and difficult time God is able to weave it all for our beauty. As a family we are going through a difficult trying time with no source of income and the children at home with no fees. We are trusting God for financial breakthrough. God bless you.


  2. Posted by Ron Mozda

    Dear Kimberly
    Although it may seem that LeRoy’s ministry is on hold, ministry is still happening thru the podcasts and books that LeRoy has written with you. In fact I was ministered to in this very way even before I learned of LeRoy’s illness. Praise God. As a result I was able to go thru my trial with strength due to LeRoy’s willingness to be used by God. We always keep you and LeRoy in our prayers for his recovery.
    God Bless you both and thank you.
    Ron


  3. Posted by Deborah Peel

    At our church the ladies are currently working through Carol Ruvolo’s study “James – on trials” and getting the same wonderful encouragement that you mentioned. Thank you for this emphasis.


  4. Posted by Br K. Ravi Babu

    Thank you very much for your email and wonderful message we appreciate your prayers and encouragement please keep praying


  5. Posted by Toby

    Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today.


  6. Posted by Br K. Ravi Babu

    Thank you Sis kimberly and praise the Lord for His goodness answering prayers. We are always learning and growing in our faith through prayer. God is faithful! Our prayers change us as we keep our eyes on Jesus and not what is happening to us. Please give my love and hugs to co workers We are always grateful for you all and pray you experience every spiritual blessing


  7. Posted by Lynn Reynolds

    Thank you your encouragement that “joy and intense pain can coexist.” Praying this for my daughter, who is in a very difficult marriage, with little visible joy


  8. Posted by AK

    Thank you for reminding me about the Scripture in James. My marriage is very difficult. Often times I feel invisible or in the way. I am married to a minister. He’s truly annointed by God and has many gifts. His life testimony is amazing. He did such work to survive his past that he feels God completely delivered him from it. As his wife I still see the residue. It affects us. We’ve gone to counseling and he felt like their was no point in it. I know I’m not perfect, I have many flaws. I am also willing to talk about everything and make changes. He isn’t, he doesn’t see the point in rehashing what happened. I feel so discouraged regularly. I’ve wanted to leave more times than I can tell you. I look to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Our dating was much different, he was kind, considerate, attentive and loving. I felt special. Now I feel like I’m in the way. My heart is sad, and yet I have so many other blessings in my life. This is my second most important relationship and I have no idea what to do. There is so much more to our story I wish I can share. I don’t have a lot of people I can talk to.


  9. Posted by Donna Doverspike

    Kim and LeRoy,

    Thank you for this wonderful message. My prayers and thoughts are with you both for complete healing and for strength that you need to walk through it.

    Hugs
    Donna


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  1. Is There Any Hope for the Weary Woman? | Kimberly Wagner - […] I’ve been teaching the book of James to a small group of women on Sunday afternoons, they’ve asked some…

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