Monday, January 5, 2015

It Doesn't Make Sense

Reading Genesis 16-19 today, I noticed a general theme:  Distrust in God.

Genesis 16:  Sarah and Abraham distrusted God's convenant with them that Abraham would be the father of a nation whose people would be as numerable as the stars in the heavens.  Instead, Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid.  Tell me that's not messed up.

Genesis 18: Again, Sarah doubts God's promise to her husband.  When she hears God tell Abraham that she will bear a son, she laughs!

Genesis 19: The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be destroyed.  The angels tell Lot to go to his daughters and sons-in-law to warn them to leave.  However, the children just think Lot is joking around with them.  They don't believe.  The angels tell Lot, his wife and daughters not to look back at the city once they leave.  Sadly, we all know Lot's wife did not heed that warning.  The angels told Lot to relocate to the mountains, but Lot was afraid "some evil would overtake" him and he would die there.  He convinced the angels to allow him and his family to go to a small city nearby, instead.  Interestingly, once his wife turned into a pillar of salt, Lot high-tailed it to Location Site A (aka - the mountains) anyway.

In defense of Sarah, Abraham and Lot, none of God's plans made any sense.  God promised Abraham  that he would become a prosperous nation, yet Abraham was now in his 80s and Sarah in her 70s.  A few years had already passed since the promise had been made.  Maybe, just maybe, this child was not to be born of Sarah?  Maybe, just maybe, Sarah was to entrust her handmaid Hagar to her husband to "help" this covenant move into action?  Because, surely God didn't expect old Sarah to have a baby.  It just didn't make sense!

Then, a few years later, God makes a visit and is talking with Abraham outside the tent where Sarah can overhear.  Sarah couldn't help but laugh.  Seriously, her menstrual cycle had ended (probably years before - maybe around the time she gave Hagar to Abraham) and she was almost 90 years old.  You go find a 90 year old woman and tell her that she will have a baby.  See what she does.  She may be the most miserable woman you know, but I can almost guarantee she will have a good laugh at that!  It just doesn't make sense!

Lot's son-in-law is sitting in his living room relaxing after a delicious dinner and is reading the Sodom & Gomorrah Gossip Column when Lot charges in the house without even knocking and starts speaking quickly and loudly about how the city is going to be destroyed and they must leave NOW!!!!   "Lot….enough with the practical jokes.  I'm tired and not amused.  Slow down Lot.  Yeah, these two strangers you have staying with you tonight have really messed with your head.  Maybe you just need to go home and get some rest.  Go.  We'll check on you tomorrow.  Bye now."
Their city was going to be destroyed?  By God? It just didn't make sense!

Lot and his family were dragging their feet to leave their beloved home-town so much so that the angels had to grab them by their hands and pull them out.  When they finally were out of the city limits, they told Lot where to relocate:  to the mountains.  But, Lot complains that he will probably die in the mountains.  "Wouldn't it just be better to allow us to go to this tiny city nearby?  It's closer and it's only a little city.  What kind of trouble could we possibly get into there?  Did I mention how little this place is?"  The mountains where there is nothing but man-eating animals and cold air just didn't make sense!

Then, there's Lot's wife.  Maybe Lot's whining about whether to go to the mountain or that itsy-bitsy city caused her to forget the first instructions given by the angels as they left Sodom - don't look back.  But, maybe it was because of her mother's heart.  She was being dragged from the city in which she birthed and raised at least four daughters.  Two of her daughters had stayed behind with their husbands.  Did she have grandchildren that were about to be consumed, as well?  Not look back?  Not even one last time?  It just didn't make  sense!

We know that God's ways are not our ways.  Often, they don't make sense.  It makes sense that a child grow to become an adult and live a full life.  It makes sense that a man and woman marry and stay married until death parts them.  It makes sense that a person gets a college education, finds a job and stays until retirement.  It makes sense to live in the home in which you raised your children and have your children remain within driving distance.

But God….will often mess with our senses.  A child is diagnosed with an incurable cancer.  Children are devastated by their parents' divorce and need to choose between the two adults they are designed to love and trust most.  The college-educated man with a family and a mortgage and medical bills is suddenly laid off - for years.  A child is called to the mission field and grandparents see their grandchildren grow up via social media.

When God replaces what makes sense with the senseless, that is when we must trust.  If you know your Bible, you know that none of the above instances worked out well.  However, Psalm 5:11 tells us, "But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice:"  Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…" Psalm 118:8 - "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man."  Isaiah 50:10 - "let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."

We followers of Christ speak of trusting in God.  We pray that our trust will grow.  But, when the challenge comes, we cry, "WHY?!  It just doesn't make sense!!!"  That's why it's called trust.  Believing, carrying on, following, rejoicing, when it doesn't make sense.  Trust is hard.  Trust is scary.  In the midst of trusting, there may be great sorrow and great pain.  But, trust reaps joy.

Trust brings joy?!  I know.  It doesn't make sense.

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