Can. But Will?

02 Aug

God is hard to figure out sometimes.

My wife and I were reflecting recently about the number of times it seems that God demonstrates that He can do something, but doesn’t seem to fully follow through on doing it.

Here’s what I mean (these are all situations known to us personally):

A couple struggling with infertility finally gets pregnant…only to miscarry.

A woman living in a foreign environment desiring to be married finally develops a great friendship with a quality guy…only to find that he’s not looking for a romantic relationship.

A girl suffering from a disease experiences temporary healing…only to have all the symptoms return full-force.

God demonstrates that He can provide a baby to the childless, a companion to the lonely, and health to the sick–but then He takes each “gift” away.

He shows us that He can overcome each of these situations, but then He falls short of actually doing so.

In each situation, those involved tend to experience a sense of loss: He gave a baby and took it away, He opened the door to relationship and then closed it, He gave relief and then permitted the disease to take hold once again. There is a battle with bitterness, and certainly confusion.

What’s He doing? He’s shown that He can, but we want to know if He will.

He seems (on occasion) to tantalize us with blessing, leaving the full realization of it dishearteningly out of reach. It’s right there…it was right there…and now it’s gone. He’s taken it away. Will it come back again? Will I be able to fully take hold of the blessing at that time?

He’s shown that He can, and I suppose we should be able to take encouragement from that. There is a blessing and a privilege in having God demonstrate concretely His ability to act on our behalf. But rather than feeling encouraging, it usually just ends up feeling confusing. The pain of our original struggle only becomes compounded with a new sense of loss, a hope that was so nearly fulfilled–or even enjoyed for a season–and then taken away, abruptly, surprisingly.

It’s hard to look at that season of life and to simply be thankful for and encouraged by the demonstration of His ability; the taste of loss, the loss of hope are just too overpowering.

Nonetheless, we try to maintain our faith, thankful that He’s apparently aware of our situations and having received proof that He can act and resolve them.

And then we wait. And pray. And hope that the brief taste we had is just an appetizer to an even more overwhelming banquet to come.

Perhaps that’s what He’s doing: priming us, expanding our capacity, so that when His time of true blessing arrives that we’ll be able to take it all in. But the journey to that point isn’t a steady incline; it has its ups and downs, its joys and pains.

We might feel like we’ve been cheated; He gave and took it back. Instead, we should feel gratitude: for a time, He did provide joy, demonstrate love, grant relief.

After all, He could have just left us in our sorrow and struggle the whole time. But He didn’t. He stepped in. He gave us a season and a sense of His goodness, a reminder of His attention and care, and proof of His power.

But it can be really tough to accept it as a gift and not a loss.

We know God can. Sometimes He has. But our heart wonders if He will.


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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Life, Prayer, Theology


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