God Does Not Always Deliver [ARTICLE – Tim Knutson]

God does not always deliver…

So, does that get your attention?

Let me throw a few quotes of commonly used statements at you for a moment:

  • “You’re either in a storm, about to be in one, or just coming out of one.”
  • “Just remember, someone’s got it a lot worse than you do.”
  • “Don’t worry, you’ll understand this some day.”
  • “Hey! Your best days are still in front of you!”
  • “You just gotta believe!”

There are many more of these aphorisms from various perspectives, but let me challenge you for a moment. What about those who are in a storm that doesn’t have an end?

What if you are the “someone” who really does have it worse?

What about those who suffered a horrible event and are now living in old age and STILL don’t understand why a tragic event happened to them?

What if the best events in your life are no longer sign posts pointing forward on the road of life? What if you can’t even see them in the rear view mirror?

I don’t know if it’s because we live in a wonderful culture where many diseases are cured, where health is an expected privilege, and the American Dream is truly still possible for most folks; or maybe its due to health and wealth preachers like the ilk of Robert Schuller or Joel Osteen telling us that there is a great champion within us and if we’ll “just believe” we can overcome any obstacle.

Even in our independent, fundamental, King James Bible, missions-minded circles, many have come to believe that every trial comes in three stages: the beginning of the trial, the time during the trial, and finishing with the end of the trial. And “thank God for the end.” It is perceived that the best of all trials is the end, and we long for and hope for the end of that trial. Thus, assuming that all trials have an end.

I’m sorry, but, you know what? That’s wrong.

This was not true for many believers in history.  What about all of the Christians whose hands were nailed or tied to rough-hewn crosses, and the last thing they saw was a Roman soldier holding a torch to their feet so that Nero could have light during his evening garden walks? What about Felix Manz who was draped in heavy chains and drowned in the river because he believed that salvation must come before baptism? What about all those boiled in oil, filleted alive, and drawn on the rack during the Spanish Inquisition?  Did they do something wrong? Were they “not good enough”? Did they not “believe” enough? Surely there must have been hidden sin, right? …Right?

When I think along these lines, I’m reminded of one of the most wonderful chapters of the Bible, the “Hall of Faith” chapter, Hebrews 11. I love those stories, don’t you? Enoch walks with God and gets to go straight to heaven, Noah and his family saved from the horrible flood, Abraham commanded to offer his son up as a sacrifice and God stopping him just in the nick of time, the Israelites with the Red Sea in front and Pharaoh’s army behind, and God parts the waters so they can walk across on dry land and then proceeds to give Pharaoh’s army their last bath. Plus, the others! Kingdoms were conquered, they obtained promises from God, saw the mouths of lions stopped, escaped the edge of the sword, women seeing their husbands and children raised back to life, and on it goes! Awesome stuff!

But so often we conveniently ignore the door to the “other” wing of the hallowed Hall of Faith, that is, verses 35b-38. Lets do a quick list of some of the things that happened to them:

  • Tortured
  • Mocked
  • Brutally beaten
  • Imprisoned
  • Stoned
  • Sawn in half
  • Tempted
  • Killed with a sword
  • Had insufficient clothing
  • Had no money

What about this wing of the Hall of Faith? Is this the part of the hall that includes the lesser Christians who weren’t “good enough” to be included in other wings? Did these believers just not have “enough faith”? Perhaps they just needed to listen to some rousing rendition of “If You Just Believe” one more time? Maybe they just had some secret sin that caused this…right?

Absolutely not. The gilded sign over the door of this forgotten exhibit of believers states: “Of whom the world was not worthy,” according to vs. 38. Clearly, according to the very Word of God, the problem these people had was not a lack of faith or a secret sin. They were not only “good enough,” the Bible says this earth wasn’t even worthy of their presence.  Now, granted, we understand that the only reason that any of us are “worthy” is because of the wonderful and merciful grace of Jesus Christ.

And yet they suffered in ways that I can only imagine, and in many cases, their tortuous circumstances lasted until they took their last breath in this life.

In my human mind, this is hard to take. It is very hard to understand.  Why are these good people left in situations that seem unending? Why are we left morning after morning seeing the same blasted bills come in the mail that I couldn’t pay yesterday, the same stupid pain that I went to bed with last night, or the same painful family grief that Christmas brought last year?

I’m sure many of us have been in the position where we have looked to the sky, and, with tears and pain-filled hearts, we have looked to heaven and are left with only one silent heart cry, “God do you even care?”

Oh, my friend. Yes, He cares. May I remind you of a few other signposts along the believer’s path?

Hebrews 13:5 “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me and I will answer thee”

“Oh, yes, He cares, I KNOW He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares.” -Frank E. Graeff

Then why do these things happen? Why doesn’t God fix my problem and free me of this pain?

James the Apostle gives us a few wonderful thoughts in this regard from chapter 5. He spends the first part of the chapter getting after those who use money as their means and hope for personal well being at the expense of the poor and the working class. He then, in one single sentence, transitions to speaking to believers, knowing that many of us feel like that ripped off working class from the previous verses.  He rebukes wicked men and then turns to exhort suffering Christians.

First, he says in verses 7 & 8, “Be Patient”. But the word here is more than just patience. It means “long patience” or “longsuffering.” The idea is not to look for the end of the trial, but rather to settle down and prepare for a lengthy trial.

“But, Why?” we ask impatiently, “I want the problem to be gone!”

Because that’s how we discover how good and how great God can be to His children. Criswell tells a story of a lady who was counseling a troubled believer, “Did you ever notice when Jesus told the fishermen to cast their nets into the water, it was into the exact same water they had been fishing in all night?”

How true! We always want a change of scenery, a relief from the stress of the same old ugly problems, but the bills from last month are going to show up in your mailbox this month also, the pain will still be there in the morning, and the grief will still be felt at Christmas.  Why? Because it is in those same old ugly problems that God wants to work for us. He is trying to teach us how to learn patience in the failure and discouragement that we see and feel every day.

Ugh, yeah, thanks, Bro. Knutson. In other words, learn to live with it?  Uh, Yep. Don’t get mad, don’t get weary, don’t get nasty. By God’s help, just get patient.

Not only does he say to be patient and have long patience, but in verse 8 James adds a second exhortation: “Stablish your hearts.”

We are so prone to discouragement that God has to tell us to get a hold of our emotions and our thoughts. It’s interesting that God doesn’t choose the permanent word “establish” but rather the continual action word “stablish.” In other words, this is a constant Christian process, not a one-time miracle by a great work of Christ. That great work of Christ is a constant and always implied, but this is an action that the believer is called to do! YOU, stablish YOUR hearts! (It is understood that God is doing the work, but the requirement is still placed firmly in our lap to take responsibility of action, trusting Him for fulfillment!)

The word stablish is also used for the word “prop.”  Prop up yourself. Like the British say, “keep a stiff upper lip, old boy.”

Sometimes you have to grab a stick of encouragement and jab under your heart’s backside and tell it that God will keep His promises! Even though there may be tears, even though there may be doubts, even though the ability to stand is gone, we must hold ourselves up on belief, trust, and faith in the promises of God. If you’ll remember David and his band of men, that after all that they had at Ziklag was taken, including David’s two wives, and his own people were ready to stone David, the historian records, “but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”

But, why? WHY? Should we do this????

James tells us why in verse 8: “for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

He is not just referencing the second coming here as a general encouragement, but more: the literal, physical presence of Christ. Christ will soon be here not just in the world, but here for you! Think back to those who died before Christ without ever seeing the Saviour for which they were hoping. What do you think they felt when Christ came to Abraham’s bosom to gather them all up and take them to heaven?

Do you think they thought it was worth it?

After those precious believers died in unspeakable excruciating pain from the fire in Nero’s garden, after their eyes closed forever in this world to open again in perfection looking at the physical face of Jesus, do you think they looked back in sorrow? Do you think they cared “WHY?” any longer? Do you think they felt delivered?!

We shall see Him, dear friends! We shall see Him face to face, heart to heart, and hand to hand. And if the trials in this life do not seem to leave, let us find another promise of God and shove it under our hearts and await with tearful patience for the coming of the Lord!

No, God does not always deliver when WE want Him to deliver.

We may wake up tomorrow morning to the same failures we experienced today, but friends…

God always delivers. Look up! And look forward to the day when we can look at Jesus, face to face. It will happen in a moment! It could be before you finish reading this article!

McCheyne, the Scotch preacher, once said to some friends, “Do you think Christ will come tonight?” One after another they said, “I think not.” When all had given this answer, he solemnly repeated this text, “The Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”

-Faith, Love & Hope: An Exposition of the Epistle of James.

“A little while!” and He shall come,

The hour draws on apace,

The blessed hour, the glorious morn,

When we shall see His face;

How light our trials then will seem!

How short our pilgrim way!

Our life on earth, a fitful dream,

Dispelled by dawning day!

 

A little while, with patience, Lord,

I fain would ask, “How long?”

For how can I with such a hope

Of glory and of home,

With such a joy awaiting me,

Not wish the hour were come?

How can I keep the longing back,

And how suppress the groan?

-Faith, Love & Hope: An Exposition of the Epistle of James.

 

Glad Day, Glad Day is it the Crowning Day? I’ll live for today, nor anxious be, Jesus my Lord I soon shall see, Glad Day, Glad Day. Is it the Crowning Day?!

No, God does not always deliver…when we want Him to, but God always delivers.  Perhaps it’s time for believers to spend a little more time in that forgotten wing of the Hall of Faith that includes those who did not see deliverance in this life.  Will not the eternal smile of God and the radiant presence of Jesus Christ be worth it all in eternity?

Are you one of those who feels that your storm has no end, your trial has no relief, and your pain has no point?  Be patient, brethren, and stablish your hearts.  The road ahead may be rough, but the destination…the destination is glorious deliverance in the literal presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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1 Comment
  1. Well said, Pastor Knutson! As a seasoned Senior Saint, I’ve learned from experience that God doesn’t work according to my time schedule. But He DOES work! And always works for my good, even when I can’t see it.

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