As an extension of what I wrote on Monday, there is the huge question of “what is good.” The verse, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” is quoted so often that I almost hate to bring it up. (Romans 8:28)
But this verse is central to the question of moving God to act on our behalf through faith. Consider the idea of receiving healing for a physical problem. Some people firmly believe that God wants perfect health for everyone here on earth, because that is good.
In fact, there is a currently popular Christian song which says, “You make all things work together for my good.” But is that what Romans 8:28, quoted above, says? No, it is not.
There can be a huge difference between what I would consider “my good,” and “absolute good.” Going back to the health example, if it is always good for me to be healthy, then I would have to conclude that if I have perfect faith, I will have perfect health until at some point when God says, “time’s up,” I would drop dead with a smile on my face. It would mean that babies would never be born with defects, and that handicapping injuries would never happen to those who have perfect faith. But life doesn’t work this way.
John Bunyan spent years starving in prison- probably not what he would have defined as “good,” and yet the world was given Pilgrim’s Progress. Joel Sonnenberg was burned over 85% of his body as a toddler (certainly not because of his lack of faith), and his parents triumphed in God’s sovereign goodness, and Joel is now a Christian motivational speaker. Amy Carmichael broke her ankle before she thought that her work in India was complete, and discovered that God was moving her to the ranks of the prayer warriors, rather than to continue as a “soldier” on the front lines of working with people. We like to remember the faith of the men thrown into the fiery furnace who were not burned, but what of those heroes of faith from Hebrews 11 who were "stoned, sawn asunder, and killed with the sword?" They had the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who said that they didn't know if God would spare them, but he was able, whether he did or not. We are cheered by the physically saving faith of the men in the fire, but not so much by the faith of those who were sawn in two.
James 4:3 says, “You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.”
Sometimes, our definition of “goodness” is just another form of lust. We want to be healthy, sheltered in reasonable comfort, have loving family and friends around us, and feel God’s presence in our lives. We believe that God wants these things for us. Yet, sometimes God calls people to be ill, injured, cold and hungry, even alone. He wants us to trust him, whether we can feel that He is there or not. He wants us to stand with Job and say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”
Our definition of good has to be aligned with God’s definition of good. This can be a difficult coordination problem, but this is the issue to which we should apply our faith.
|Race For Life: The Joel Sonnenberg Story|
Joel Sonnenberg's web site
Would You Dare?