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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Why Now God?

My pastor, Ken Johnston, preached a great message yesterday about the best response to suffering. Rather than wallowing in the question of 'why me' the Biblical powerful (faith-filled) response is to say 'I don't know why me but I praise you anyway God'. And that's why I want to use this blog post to write about another similar question that has plagued my mind this year: 'Why now God?'

When my Grandmother passed away earlier this year I had that very question on my mind and it took time for the pain to die down and for God to really show me that everything was in his control. The timing was terrible - or so I thought. Even more recently there have been other events where it has seemed like the timing has been terrible (people confessing things to me, people getting hurt, having to pay off unnecessary costs when there hasn't been money etc.). But God has still been teaching me that even if I think the timing is terrible, he actually has perfect timing every time.

Isaiah 55:8 says '"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." (NIV)

There we go. The Bible has the answer, end of story, time for me to wrap up this post. No, not seriously, but it is pretty amazing how straightforward some scriptures can be - so how can we not grasp this fact that God is not human and doesn't follow our rules? Human pride? Human arrogance? Lack of faith? Not knowing him?

Christianity is, in my eyes, one of the hardest and easiest things to do. I have a strong conviction deep down about its reality - I see it in the world as something so tangible: a slice of eternity in everyday life, At the same time there are natural doubts from secular sources and other religions that really try and tear me down in regards to this whole issue.

So this morning when I woke, I felt compelled to read John 6 - in fact after I asked God what to read he specifically said John 6. And I am so glad that I did.

For anyone unaware, John 6 begins with the feeding of the five thousand. One of the most impressive miracles of multiplication and giving that Jesus performed.

From verses 5-7 (NLT)
"5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.
7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!"
The italics and bolding are my own work because this struck me when I was reading through John 6: Jesus already knew the divine miracle he was going to do and so he tests the faith of his disciples. We all know that we test people all the time when trying to get a certain answer to a question from them or to see what they are capable of - and Jesus himself tests his disciples to see what kind of answer they could come up with to an impossible situation. And of course his disciples decide that the best solution is just to get some food for Jesus (and maybe for them) with the 5 loaves and two fish that a little boy offers to them.

And then of course Jesus performs this incredible miracle and leaves twelve full baskets afterwards. I'm still staggered by the concept that he knew what he was going to do in advance though - that is amazing to think about. And the next thing he does is walk across the water when his disciples travel to Capernaum. The following day the people who Jesus had fed by a miracle follow him across the water in their boats and when they get there:
"26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”"

And verses 30 - 31
"30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’"
It's crazy to think, but even after seeing this miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the crowd still do not believe in the power of Jesus. In fact if you read later on they talk about how he is just the son of Joseph and Mary - no one special really.

So having read this today two things struck me:
1) Jesus knew what miracles he would perform but tested his disciples about his power
2) Even after seeing Jesus perform miracles, the crowd wanted more miracles - not because they truly believed in his power but because they just liked seeing miracles as a kind of show

And it is these two revelations that provide the answer to my question: why now God?
Why now? Because God didn't want to move earlier or later. He wanted to move now in his own way so that I (so that you) will see his power truly at work.

That may seem like a cop-out answer but it's true. God moves when he wills - not just when we want (though by grace he allows us a chance to participate). He knows in advance the plans and purposes (the perfect plans and purposes where all his promises are YES and AMEN) he has for our lives and brings them about in the perfect timing - even if we cannot see it like this. And when God works with his timing, we can see it as a test of our faith - to see whether our faith is without action and therefore dead (like those who say the miracles and did not recognise God's power behind the miracles).

God's timing is glorious, righteous timing. So maybe I need to stop saying 'why now God' and say 'I thank you that you choose to act now God because I know that you are perfecting my faith.'

Hebrews 12:1-3
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.