I've been absent because I have been sick. Quite sick. For 183 hours, so far, if anyone was actually counting. Which of course, I am not. Totally not.
I've tried to keep up my part of the challenge I left us all--most especially myself--with last Monday, but I haven't really done as well as I would have hoped. But I do have some thoughts on the journey so far, and I'll tackle the first one quickly today. ("Quickly" being an entirely relative term with me.) If you're sure you're ready for it...
There are some things about God's workings that I simply--really deeply--don't like.
Okay, who's mad at me now? Frankly, I edited that statement. What I wanted to say was that there were things about God that I don't like, but I don't know that that's 100% accurate. Why would I say either one of those things? Well...
Last week, I found myself reading at the end of the book of Judges. Now, if you've read this book, you know it's filled with sorry stories about sinful, self-seeking people over the course of generations. It's not a place for the faint-of-heart to start. However, at the very end there is a very telling story about an unnamed Levite who travels with his wife/concubine (she's called both in the passage) to an apparently wicked city in the tribe of Benjamin. The men of the city are so wicked that they clamor for this guy to be sent out to them so they can perform indecent acts on/with him. It's shocking, and very reminiscent of a story God relates from Sodom. This Levite, instead, sends his wife outside to them, and they abuse her so horribly during the night that by daybreak she is dead.
I know, my stomach is kinda turning too. God uses this scenario to reveal the wickedness that this entire tribe had allowed to grow in their midst, and then to exact judgment on them for it. The wickedness is removed from Israel, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives and the near extermination of the tribe of Benjamin. Justice is done.
I want God to judge this Levite. How could he treat his WIFE like that? ANYONE like that? I wanted God to make HIM pay for his wicked acts... I found myself wanting to scream!
I know, some of you are saying, "We aren't told the whole story here. Only part is recorded in order to fill us in on the history/tell of how God judged this tribe." Yep. Okay, I get that. But my struggle lingers: Why isn't the next part of the story recorded? Why isn't there one word of condemnation of this man's horrific behavior?
And this, my friends, is where faith enters in. I understand when I look at the whole of Scripture that God doesn't condone men using their wives as shields. I understand that God never says, "Oh, just let those evil men have their way with her." But what I want is complete and immediate justice for this wrong. For. Each. Wrong.
Except...I don't. Not really. For if God did such a thing, who could stand? Surely not I. Most certainly not. Somehow, in His sovereignty and His grace and His mercy, God does 'balance' the scales--ultimately. And frankly, I don't think He cares if I'm on board with His timing or not.
This is where my knowledge of God Himself and of the promises and prophecies He has given comes into play. His nature hasn't changed. His promises will be fulfilled. And even if I don't get to see God work all this out, those things are still true. To believe that is what faith is.
So, I don't have good answers as to why God allows such evil--globally or on an intimate scale--to reign. I have answers, but in the face of it, they don't feel like good answers. But the nature, character, and faultlessness of my God stand in mute testimony that there are purposes and there are days of accounting.
So I don't hang my trust on what I don't understand. I place my faith on the Who I do know. And someday, maybe, when God has expanded the peanut in my head to be able to comprehend His ways better...maybe then I'll 'get' it.
Until then, I rest in the knowledge that the story juxtaposed immediately against this torrid tale is the sweet, tender, remarkable tale of a kinsman-redeemer whose rescue of a certain woman foretells God's own intervention into history. And the grace that is demonstrated in that tale is mine. Blessedly mine.
Not always clear, but confident,
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. --Hebrews 4:13-14, NIV
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? ...I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. --Psalm 130:3, 5, NIV