Sometimes when I am dismayed over the state of the world or a personal problem, I am tempted to think, “God, why aren’t you winning? You’re stronger than evil. You’re bigger than this problem. Why isn’t all of this taken care of? It would be nothing to You to right these things.”
The psalmists wrestled with this question in a slightly different way. In Psalm 73, Asaph struggled with not only the presence of the wicked, but the fact that they prospered. He even came to the point of thinking that his efforts to live purely had been in vain. Job’s friends’ asserted that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked, and therefore Job must have done something wrong to be experiencing so much trouble. One of Job’s arguments against their theory was that the wicked often prosper in this life.
But nothing in Job’s circumstances indicated that God wasn’t “winning,” that He was absent, didn’t care, or had lost control of the situation. God was with Job all along, even though Job couldn’t sense His presence. God displayed mercy and compassion to Job, even though it looked different from what we might expect. All of the physical, material blessings that God restored to Job at the end of the book are items that he once again lost at the end of his life. But through the first loss of them, God taught him eternal truths and drew Job closer to Himself. Job’s relationship with God and the spiritual truths he learned would affect the rest of his life. Though it might have looked like Satan was winning, God was working out His purposes.
I love the Psalms for their honest emotion. Whether the psalmists faced personal danger or lamented the seeming triumph of evil in the world, they brought their own thoughts and those of their listeners back to the truth they knew about God. Psalm 10 (ESV) starts out, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” But the psalmist reminded himself, “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.” He concludes back on solid ground:
The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
When God seems far away, we remind ourselves of the truth we know about Him from His Word. He sees what is going on. He loves us. He will deal justly. He might be waiting to answer for a number of reasons. We ask Him to search us and show us anything that might be hindering His answer to our prayers. And we rest in His wisdom, love, righteousness, and strength.
Trusting that God has control of the situation doesn’t mean inaction on our part. Only God can take care of all the needs of the world, but He often works through people. A needy world is a call to pray and then to look for ways to help those in need. William Wilberforce and Hannah More not only prayed against the evil of slavery but fought against it. We may not be able to solve world pproblem, but we can help those within our sphere of influence.
In the May 19 selection of Spectacle of Glory by Joni Eareckson Tada, she wrote:
On the whole, the good that we are able to tally in this life doesn’t seem to outweigh the bad that we observe. We keep praying, but we don’t see some of the answers closest to our hearts. Only heaven will reveal a clear picture of how the sweet fragrance of our faith in Jesus, even in times of grief and loss, influenced the lives of those around us. Only eternity will show how our fainthearted prayers changed the destinies of people on our prayer list. Great faith believes in God even when He plays His hand close to the vest, not showing all His cards. God wants to increase your “measure of faith.” He does this whenever He conceals a matter and you trust Him nevertheless (p. 156).
The Bible tells us the world will get worse before the end. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3: 14-15).
God not only wins in the end. He is winning now. He’s working out His purposes even now.
Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev’ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
(From “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper, 1773)
Revised from the archives. I had another post in mind for today, but then was inclined to this one.
(Sharing with Hearth and Soul, Sunday Scripture Blessings, Selah, Scripture and a Snapshot, Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Remember Me Monday, Tell His Story, Legacy Link-Up, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network)
Love your positive post for these troubling days, and the reminder of who is by our side. Thank you.
Thank you, Peabea. I need that reminder often that He is with us and ultimately in charge.
so very true
Amen Barbara. 🌼
Amen! I love the quote from Joni!
You’re always welcome to join me in a cuppa Barbara at Tea With Jennifer,
Thanks for this reminder that we can trust that God DOES have control of the situation, even when we can’t see it from our end. This is encouraging: “God not only wins in the end. He is winning now. He’s working out His purposes even now.”
Our church’s reading through the prophets last year helped prepare me. So many times in the Bible God allowed things to happen that would have been hard to live through, in part to bring His people to repentance. I pray He uses all that’s going on now to turn people’s hearts to Him.
We’re both pondering the big questions in our posts this week. Certainly, it is comforting to follow Scripture ‘s trail back to peace and trust in our sovereign God.
Trusting that God’s mercies will continue to be new every morning and that He is our strong tower is such a grace, especially in this season. He knows how our stories will end, He’s not surprised at what’s happening.
I am so grateful …
Me too, Linda.
Love your thoughts, and the idea that God doesn’t just win in the end — He’s winning now. I have that same Joni book and love it too. It seems that the hard thing, at least for me, is persevering through a lot of hard times and keeping always in the forefront of my mind that God is winning, in control, etc., even when the things we are seeing and facing seem different.
That is hard. It seems like things should happen in a different way. But I hope He’s using all the unsettling factors to turn people’s hearts to Him as the only true Source of help and comfort.
Wise words for today’s troubled times. This morning’s verse of the day reminded me that if we love God, we will love one another–no matter what differences frighten us, anger us, or annoy us, we will act in love. Just like Jesus.
Yes–we’re to love even our enemies. Yet people blast other people’s points of view right and left. We have so much to learn.
This is so good! Thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you, Tai.
You are most welcome, Barbara!
Thank you for sharing the beautiful verses and examples from scripture. God’s love and grace wins everytime. I am stopping by from the 31 days group,
AMEN!! Psalm 27 is one of my absolute faves….and I enjoyed reading the excerpt from Joni. Thank you for this thought provoking post!
I like the (old) NASB for that last verse, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Thanks for these good reminders, Barbara.
I like that, too.
So good Barbara – just what is needed right now. I especially loved this,
“Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.”
Thank you for the encouragement in a time fraught with discouragement! ~ Maryleigh
Thank you, Maryleigh. I love that hymn of Cowper’s The fact that he wrestled with discouragement a lot and came through on the other side helps, too
I’m glad you chose to share this post today. It is easy to claim that evil is winning when we survey the events that are happening in our current climate. But, then you point us to the word–to Job–and we read that God is always with us, even as He was with Job.
Our church read through the major and minor prophets last year, and that was a big help in preparing me for events the last several months. Ofttimes God allowed events that would have been so hard, all to turn His people’s gaze back to Himself. I pray all the current events do the same.
Fresh insight on good versus evil and who’s really in control. God is. The comforting part of Psalm 73 is this: “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearsome task, UNTIL I went into the sanctuary of God; THEN i discerned their end.” (vv. 16-17, ESV, emphasis added)
God is with us all along the way, in control, and winning to the end.
That’s one reason it’s so important to keep our eyes on Him and in His Word. We could get so discouraged at what’s going on in the world if we didn’t consistently get the message that He knows, He’s with us, and He has a purpose in what He allows.
Yes, so often it does seem like evil is winning. It is important to hold on to the fact that we know God wins in the end!
We have to constantly walk by faith and not by sight–and what’s in our sight is so discouraging these days. We need that consistent reminder that God is at work and with us.
I especially loved this line, Barbara: “Only God can take care of all the needs of the world, but He often works through people.” Yes!!! So true. It is up to each one of us to help to build God’s Kingdom here on earth. There is no one else. We are called to do it a little bit at a time.
I am sometimes confused when I read about the evil Babylonians being used to affect the punishment of the Israelites during the exile, but God knew what he was doing. It’s not up to me to understand, only obey.
We’re in good company with our confusion. Like the prophets and psalmists, we go back to the truth we know that God knows why He allows what He does–we just have to be faithful and trust Him and do what He has for us in our small corner of the world.
Wise and encouraging words, Barbara! I just hung up the phone with reminding a family member, “Thus far He has led us.” That is all I need to remember – “Thus far.”
Amen. The one who has led us step by step thus far won’t abandon us now.
Barbara, I’m SO GLAD you followed your inclination–or should I say the Holy Spirit’s nudge?–and posted this instead of whatever you had planned originally. Such comforting, truth-filled words. You have encouraged my heart today, friend.
Thanks so much, Lois–that’s so encouraging. Sometimes it’s hard to know which of the things on my heart to post about, and it’s such a blessing to know God led.
“God is his own interpreter, he will make it plain.” Love that line and do appreciate your many scripture references! Praise God He wins and has won and is sovereign in all things.
Love the encouragement you’ve shared here, and yes, it is so timely because of all the trouble and uncertainty around us these days. Thankful that God remains the same and his promises are sure.
love this … “God not only wins in the end. He is winning now.” Thanks for linking up at Legacy LInkup
Thanks for the reminder, Barbara! “God taught him eternal truths and drew Job closer to Himself. Job’s relationship with God and the spiritual truths he learned would affect the rest of his life. Though it might have looked like Satan was winning, God was working out His purposes.”
Amen! The raw emotions of the psalmist and of Job are such an encouragement. God’s got this, even when it feels like He doesn’t.
I suppose we have all wondered why the wicked prosper and it does look like evil is winning, it looked like that at the cross too, and now before He returns. Christ always come through, why we can conquer.
A powerful and timely reminder that even when it may appear that evil is ahead… God is at work and we know the end of the story!
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