Is a worldview that ‘God is good’ adequate in helping Christians understand the whole gamut of experiences in life? Let’s learn from Habakkuk about a faithful God. Let’s learn from Moses how to move only when God’s presence goes with us.
How should believers view their relationship with God? Is it true they just need to embrace the belief that God is good and that He will always bless them?
There is nothing wrong in believing that God is good and desires to bless His children. “True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honour, and long life” (Proverbs 22:4). “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). In general, God desires to bless believers with material abundance, honour, longevity and a bright future.
However, there will be seasons when believers fail to see such blessings in their lives. When they are undergoing trials and tribulations, the premise that ‘God is good’ seems like an empty creed — merely confessed and sung by them on Sundays. What are the other attributes or qualities of God they should cling on to?
They need to trust in a God who is faithful, like Habakkuk. Though the crops failed and the flocks vanished, yet he was not jittery. By faith, he rejoiced in a faithful God who will once again make him secure and sure-footed like a mountain goat (Habakkuk 3:17-19). God may not be good according to human expectations but He is faithful. In His own time, He will prove that He is faithful.
Moses cherished God’s presence with him in all his endeavours more than blessings. If God’s presence did not go with him, he would not think of possessing the Promised Land — a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 33:15).
Moses once grappled with this issue: Should he go ahead to enter the Promised Land without God’s presence or should he venture out only when he sensed God’s presence? Being spiritually sensitive, he chose the latter. Because his attitude was correct, he was rewarded. The glory of God passed by and he was able to see God’s back (Exodus 33:13-23).
But the Israelites were not spiritually sensitive, unlike Moses. At first, they did not believe in the positive report given by Caleb and Joshua — that they were well able to possess the Promised Land. Thus they fell under God’s judgment and had to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
Later, in a turnaround from faithlessness and cowardice, they suddenly became gung ho. Presuming they were capable of conquering the Promised Land, they launched the attack without God’s presence — in the form of the ark of the covenant — and without Moses. They could not resist the blessings of the Promised Land, which beckoned to them to possess it. But they were defeated because God’s presence was not with them (Numbers 14: 20-45).
We are merely taking baby steps in our faith walk when we believe in a good God who blesses us.
Spiritual maturity involves trusting not only in good God but a God who is faithful in spite of adverse circumstances. When trials assail us, we should rejoice by faith in His faithfulness, just like Habakkuk.
We should also seek to know God’s ways, like Moses. If God’s presence does not go with us, we should not venture out despite attractive blessings beckoning to us to go ahead. It is important to seek God’s presence rather than presume that — since He is a good God — the path of blessings must be right for us.
Finally, is the path of God’s choice invariably lined with blessings?
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
“Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah” (Genesis 13:10). Lot, the nephew of Abraham, chose the best land using his natural judgment. He did not realise that the place would later be destroyed by God for its repugnant sins like sodomy. The path marked by blessings might not be God’s choice.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; He makes me tread on my high places.
Then Moses said to God, “If you don’t go with us, then don’t make us leave this place.”
FAITH, FEELINGS, CIRCUMSTANCES
The greater our faith, the more we are freed from the tyranny of our feelings and external circumstances.
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