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17. God’s measure is not our measure
Goodness was in God’s creation plan before sin, so in the struggle for a righteous life it is a matter of reaching back to the prime state of Creation. God had given the instruction to the man and woman, “Do not eat …”.and when they disobeyed, sin entered in. That state is rightly called “The Fall”. When sin entered into the life of men and women, God introduced a pathway back to His righteousness, and this encouraged those men and women to make a struggle against evil. God made it attractive for those seeking Him to choose good because we would rather walk in this evil world, indicating a baptismal commitment to God with the hope of better things to come, than walk with no commitment, without hope and no expectation, culminating in worthless oblivion at the end of our lives.
In our understanding life is unfair, and difficult, and Job, without his wealth, and with his children dead, sitting naked on a pile of ashes, argues with his friends that he has done nothing unforgivable, and that God does not follow his rules of fairness. Even Job’s wife encourages Job to “curse God and die”, for what else is there to hold on to in so much tragedy. In the terrible depths of despair and the place of evil, why would we expect God to be fair by our understanding? Because it is His measure, we need to understand that our logic cannot understand what God decides, and how He arrives at that point, but we do know that He will comfort us in our confusion, when He uses His measure.
We do not imagine that God can do nothing about unfairness, or about those who beset us, or that He finds difficulty in keeping the chaos in check. We do not believe that He requires us to live our lives precisely, where we react with measured mathematical like precision, before justice can prevail. We cannot guarantee that if we pray hard enough God will yield to our desire. God did not ever promise that good people will thrive with health and prosperity, and that evil people will fail.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
The answer to all those discussion questions is that God is trying to teach us something, other than what we think might be on His agenda. To begin with we can always find the man with no feet, when we at least can and cover ours, and that in itself creates an opportunity which we should not forfeit, to demonstrate our beliefs to the unbeliever. And, yes, God will not test us beyond what we can stand, and justice is in God’s hand. But they are all answers only partly right. The answer also is that God is frustrated and grieved that when He leaves men to their own devices, bad things happen to good people. He is disappointed with the vicissitudes of life when His children are in trouble and pain of their own doing. The Israelites saw no connection between their suffering at the hands of their enemies and their total lack of regard for God’s commands. God declined to answer Gideon’s question, Judges 6:13, but that does not mean that goodness precludes suffering now. For we know that is not true.
So God promises to be in the hurting with us, when it hurts. If we have that good relationship with God through all our life, then when it hurts we can fall back on that. He understands our howling in the night and wallowing in the mud, He understands the deep dark pit, for He is there also. Physical realities in our lives are nothing to do with our spiritual realities. He is able to encourage us to see that, and we need to ask Him to help us see that. Terrible physical realities might present God as the enemy, and if we find that thought a reality, then we will be hard pressed to deny that. The life and death of Jesus demonstrated that, for physical oppression and evil overtook his life, and he died. Others also were, and are martyred for His sake. But none of those saints thought of, or think of God as the enemy. So our sacrifice for His sake need not predispose us to criticize Him, when we are not relieved of our physical suffering, for we understand that His measure is not our measure.