While I was killing some time in carline two days ago, I heard a song on the Christian radio station that did not sit well with me. As I am not a connoisseur of contemporary Christian music, I don’t even know the name or artist, but the essence was that God’s way is always triumph and victory. Ever since then, my mind has been churning.
Yes, God’s ways will ultimately result in victory, as we know from Revelation 19- 21 which depict our warrior king, the king of kings and the Lord of lords, coming to judge evil for good. But the way the song was worded made it sound like if one could simply sing this song and believe enough, one would experience this victorious, triumphant life right now in the ways one desired.
We all love to pray Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Some translations say immeasurably more. But what happens when God’s immeasurably more looks like immeasurably less, looks more like defeat and failure than victory and success?
Anyone who has been snorkeling in the Caribbean has experienced first hand that the more shallow the water, the greater the visibility and clarity; however, the deeper the waters, the darker it appears.
God’s purposes are as deep as His love is high. As His ways are deeper than the Mariana Trench, we should expect them to appear dark, murky and mysterious to our limited perspective and understanding.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9.
When we pray for healing, asking God to immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, sometimes His immeasurably more looks to us like immeasurably less when the scan comes back showing that the cancer spread. When a still-single or suddenly-single-again believer earnestly trusts God for immeasurably more in the form of the provision of a godly spouse only to continually be disappointed, His immeasurably more appears to be immeasurably less.
But to measure God’s ways by our limited perspective is like trying to chart four dimensional shapes on a basic Cartesian plane or to try to measure the depths of the sea in a child’s beach bucket.
Joseph still serving time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit didn’t feel like immeasurably more. But when we see God providing more time for him to heal and be prepared to forgive His brothers and forge a path for God’s people through famine, we trace threads of immeasurably more
When Naomi left with a full family but an empty bread basket for a land promising more but came back emptied of her boys and her bread, it did not seem like God had done immeasurably more. Yet, as we look back upon God’s faithfulness to her and her kin, we see Ruth and Obed woven into the lineage of Christ.
The most powerful example of immeasurably more appearing to be immeasurably less is the Cross of Christ. For there, the dark depths of the mysterious ways of God swallowed up the sinless One. The disciples, the travelers on the road to Emmaus, and the women who had faithfully followed and served Christ to the end were stunned and confused by God’s immeasurably less…
Until He rose and emptied off the depths of God that we might peer into the wisdom of His ways. What appeared to be immeasurably less was, indeed, immeasurably more than humanity could have asked or imagined.
If you find yourself staring into the deep and complex Mariana Trench of God’s purposes, you can trust His character and His intentions toward you.
This is so true, Aimee! And I fear that in teaching that the Christian life should be all rosy hurts the faith of some when those deeper, murkier waters are more common than we would wish. “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not (or take heart), I have overcome the world. “ Jesus gave us that promise for a reason. We do know that the immeasurably more is coming!