Today, the sermon at our church was on miracles and how God uses them to bring glory to Himself and to grow faith in us. It is always exciting to recount what God has done and give testimony, both Biblical and current, to His might and majesty.
But, today was a hard day for me to talk about miracles. I’ve been praying for two years for a sweet baby girl, born terribly premature. She’s fought so hard for so long, receiving a liver transplant, undergoing open heart surgery, and more. Yesterday, though, I got the phone call saying she had passed away in the night.
Yes, it’s a hard day to think about miracles.
It’s not that I think this was too much for God or that He didn’t love this little girl enough to give her another miracle in her already miraculous life.
The hard thing for me is that I’m a question-asker. In any room at any time, I am usually the one asking the most questions. I am willing, sometimes even with people I hardly know, to ask them far more than the superficial sanctioned small-talk. I’m not a “How are you doing? Where do you live? How’s the weather been?” kind of person.
Thus, as I’m praying for the family of this tiny girl, I’m bold enough to ask God some tough questions. It’s at times like these I’m thankful that He is such a big God, that He allows us to lift our pain-filled faces up to His, look straight into His eyes, and ask Him, “Lord, why? What are you doing in this situation?”
When one of Jesus’s closest friends fell sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3, NIV). Surprisingly, Jesus didn’t rush to their home to heal Lazarus. In fact, by the time Jesus arrived, Martha greeted him along the path: “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then Mary went out, fell at His feet and said exactly the same thing, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32, NIV). Some of the bystanders even bluntly asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (Luke 11:37, NIV).
These sisters didn’t hide their confusion and hurt and Jesus didn’t rebuke them for confronting Him. In this case, Jesus quickly answered their questions. He called Lazarus up from the tomb and displayed His power over life and death. He asked a question in return ,“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40, NIV).
The prophet, Habakkuk, wasn’t like most of the other Old Testament prophets, who delivered messages from God. Instead, much of what Habakkuk wrote is full of questions for God, just as Mary and Martha asked questions of Jesus. In his brief book, Habakkuk asked:
- How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk 1:2-3)
- Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:13)
After presenting a chapter-long list of complaints to God, Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Habakkuk 2:1). And God answered Him.
For us, sometimes it does become clear why God chooses to answer “no” or “wait” to our heartfelt pleas for a miracle. I can look back now and see how God used my husband’s job loss and temporary unemployment not just for God’s glory, but ultimately for our blessing and benefit. What seemed like harm, was actually salvation for us!
In other cases, though, our questions remain unanswered this side of heaven.
When the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to and worship King Nebuchadnezzar, they faced instant death in the fiery furnace. The king offered them one last chance to deny their faith and worship him instead. To this, they replied:
“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
What faith! The miracles aren’t what we should be seeking; we should be seeking God and hoping for whatever brings Him glory. If He rescues us, then we praise Him. Even if God doesn’t give us the miracle we’re looking for or provide for us in the way we expect, we can, like the three men in the fiery furnace, still worship God alone. We can trust His hand. We can know that somehow He will be glorified even in our tragedies.
When God answered Habakkuk’s tough questions, the prophet was moved to write what my Bible notes is a “hymn of faith” (Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV). It’s one of my favorites:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk says, “Even when we’re starving and we have no hope of a harvest, we’ll choose to praise God.” The Message translates verse 18 as: “Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.” It’s when we walk through the hard times with God, counting on His rule to prevail, pouring out our questions to Him and learning to trust Him, that He gives us the toughened, sure “feet of deer” and trains us how to “tread on the heights.”
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2011 Heather King