A couple of months ago, I stumbled across these words:
Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well ~ John Greenleaf Whittier
These are not “nothing” words. These are amazing words. They are sound words. They are true words. They are words that point to the hope that we have in our God.
But they can also be hard words, because they are words that point to God’s sovereignty. And that, my friends, can be a hard thing to grasp. We can’t, really. We can not wrap our finite, human minds around the truth that God is sovereign, or the truth that, because He is sovereign, all is well. Even in the hard stuff.
Two weeks ago, I approached my birthday week with an arrogant, pride-filled mind-frame. Somewhere, somehow, I had gotten this thought in my head “We (my crew and I) are doing well. We have fought hard. Life is good now. We are good.” And, all those things are truth. There is nothing in those statements that is false, except for one small thing–the word “we”. Because, it is not “we” who have come to this place. No, we were completely incapable of coming to this place in and of our own accord. Every inch we have crawled, we’ve only crawled based on God’s grace.
But, that’s easy to forget, when all truly is well according to this world’s standards.
A few short days after my “birthday week” began, my family-my crew-was hit with a blow that threatened to knock us to the ground. Again.
And I was angry. And scared.
You see, against all that I know to be truth, I had come to some ridiculous place in my mind that said “Ok. We’ve done the hard. The struggling. The devastating. It is now time for peace, for “happiness” (not to be confused with joy), and for settled-ness. It is now time to start living again.”
But in the span of 30 minutes, all of that changed, and once again we were facing the hard. The struggling. And I wanted to stamp my feet like a spoiled two-year old and self-righteously, self-importantly proclaim “That’s not fair, God! Don’t do this to my children! Don’t do this to my family! We’ve already walked this road. Don’t you see how well we are doing now?”
And, in those initial moments, I forgot God is sovereign. Over all.
But that is truth. There is way too much evidence of God’s sovereignty to believe otherwise. Both in history that I read about, and in this life that I am living. Also, it doesn’t make sense to have a God who is sovereign only in the good times. That is not the God of the gospel. That is the god of Joel Osteen. And I’ve seen too much of life to believe in that kind of god. No, I need the only true God, who is not Santa Clause, but instead is the God who is just and good and sovereign beyond anything that I can understand and in any circumstance of life–the good and the very hard. The “happiness” and the suffering. The settled and the chaotic.
God sees and knows. And is.
Today I had the privilege and honor to sing the song “Though He Slay Me” (as sung by Shane and Shane) with two dear friends of mine. It was a gift to do so, because I know the words of Job need to be the words that echo in my own mind and soul, even more so today. And in your soul as well.
The lyrics of the song proclaim that one of the ways in which we know God, is through His suffering. That there is coming a day in which we will see Him face to face. And, He is all we need. He is all that I need. The words find their foundation in Job 13:15, in which Job says “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him; yet I will argue my ways to His face.” And, if there is one that knew suffering, it is Job.
Scripture is truth. And, though I momentarily lose sight of that truth in the heat of the battle, it doesn’t change the fact that it remains truth, whether I believe it at any particular moment or not. Truth does not alter.
Many asked me today where the sermon excerpt came from that we played in the midst of the song. I meant to mention that before we sang, but I forgot. It is an excerpt from a sermon by John Piper on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
We do not lose heart. God is sovereign. God is. And so we look not to the things that can be seen, but to the things that are unseen. We look to the eternal.
Before me, even as behind, God is, and all is well.
**You can either watch or read John Piper’s sermon by clicking HERE. Listen to it, but fair warning–these are not easy words. But, sometimes, it is the hard words that we need.
**Also, a huge thank-you to my friend Allen Walker, who designed the graphic above for me to use at this site. What a gift. I am so grateful.