Tuesday, October 8, 2013

When God seems silent

Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent by Ben Patterson is one of those books that significantly affected my understanding of why difficult things happen to believers in this life. From his introduction:
I write this book out of one central conviction: that at least as important as the things we wait for is the work God wants to do in us as we wait. The apostle Paul says we Christians are people who "rejoice in the hope of the glory of God" (Rom 5:2). Amazingly, the "glory of God" he refers to is the people we will have become when Christ returns, for it is God's good pleasure to one day reveal his glory in us. In fact, the pains of waiting are really the pangs of childbirth—our birth (Rom 8:18-23). Paul says we can therefore even rejoice in our sufferings, the things we must put up with as we wait, "because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Rom 5:3,4). In other words, God is doing a good work in us as we wait, producing in us things like perseverance and character and hope (see Jas 1:4).

The apostle Peter is more colorful. He compares our faith to gold that must be purified by fire. As we wait we suffer, but this happens so that our "faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Pet 1:7). Gold refined by fire: that's what the waiting is about. ....

To wait with grace requires two cardinal virtues: humility and hope. Humility comes from being very clear on the fact that God is God and we are merely his creatures. We are his beloved creatures, the crown of his creation, but we are still just creatures. Humility recognizes that we exist for God's sake, not he for ours. "From him and through him and to him are all things" (Rom 11:36). Only the humble can wait with grace, for only the humble know they have no demands they can lay on God and his world. Only they know life is a gift, not a right. Being humble is not the same as having a low self-esteem. On the contrary, It is having a sober and clear-headed grasp of the place we occupy in God's world. ....
Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent