I was sitting in the office one day when I received a call. The director of the local rehab facility was calling to ask if I would go and teach a class on grief. The chaplain they had was gone and they needed a substitute. I prepared a few things and went down there the next week. To be honest, I was scared to death. I had nothing in common with anyone in the room. I had no relationship with them. I was the hired hand that was teaching a lesson. We all got through it together. The director encouraged me and I went back to the office feeling like nothing had been accomplished. The director called me the next week and asked if I wanted to return on a weekly basis. From that point, every Thursday for three years I went to the Next Step Network as a chaplain.
Over time I built relationships and felt very helpful in the position. One concept was repeated more than any others: God loves you, but the consequences must be faced. Every person that heard that would leave depressed. There was a belief, albeit an unbiblical one, that belief in God would remove all the bad from their life. Time after time I would explain that God loved them, Jesus died for them, and God wanted to forgive them. However, there were physical, financial, and relational, and mental consequences of their choices for which there was no guarantee. There is a wide gap between what God can do and what God will do.
Moses had a difficult group which with to deal. They complained. They whined. They betrayed. They followed after other gods. Yet, Moses still came before God and pleaded for their lives and for mercy.
20 The Lord responded, “I have pardoned [them] as you requested. 21 Yet as surely as I live and as the whole earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, 22 none of the men who have seen My glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tested Me these 10 times and did not obey Me, 23 will ever see the land I swore to [give] their fathers. None of those who have despised Me will see it.
Could God have removed all consequence? Absolutely. God is sovereign over the entire universe. He can do whatever He chooses. He just is not required. The addict should not expect to have be without headaches and ulcers. The one who has had multiple affairs should not expect his marriage to continue. The alcoholic should not be surprised with liver damage. Could God fix all of these issues? Yes. Will God fix these issues? Sometimes He does. In our way of thinking there is no rhyme or reason to His activities and choices. God’s plan is sure. Our comprehension is shaky. There are several faith groups that would disagree with me on this point stating that a person who has enough faith can have all of the bad removed. I believe God can do it. I simply do not feel I have the right to demand of God or try to use some prayer formula that puts a bit in the mouth of God in order to drive Him where I want. God is sovereign. I am a sinner. The issue is a matter of trust. Once a person has put their faith into Jesus Christ and made peace with God every day comes down to a choice. Will I trust God no matter what? When the marriage crumbles will I trust God? When the aches and shakes come will I trust God? When the liver fails or cancer comes will I trust God?
Will I trust God no matter what?