October 1, 2023 | By Jay Ashbaucher
Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” The Greek word, Θέλημα, translated here as “will or pleasure” means what is willed, what one desires to bring about by one’s own action, an act of sovereign pleasure or willingness.
When bad things happen to us, questions arise in our minds. We can understand why people have doubts about God or do not believe in God. As we suffer painful and bad things as never before, we often don’t know what to do about it. People will often pray to God for help. If we get no relief from God or others, or make wrong decisions that contribute even more to our own painful conditions, we can begin to feel temptations to doubt that God is helping us or giving us wisdom to know what to do. He seems absent and uncaring. Like many others in the Bible, we complain to Him (Num. 20:1-5; Job 30:16-23; Psa. 73:1-14; Hab. 1:2-4). We can see how personal pain and wondering about God could lead a person away from God. We may know of people who have given up on God and stopped believing in Him. It is not a sudden decision people make, but a process involving pain, disappointment, much thinking, and eventually a decision that this whole God thing is not something we can continue believing in. Even if we feel like we are strong Christians, when our faith in God is challenged, doubts and questions arise.
When suffering from bad things in my own life, I have entertained doubts and questions like: “God, are you really there? Do you exist? Why do you let evil things go on and seemingly do nothing to help? God, why would you even bother to create free-will humans, especially when you know about the potential of evil and you knew we humans would turn away from you and choose to fall away into disobedience? It doesn’t make sense to me. Why would God create anything at all? He has no need within Himself requiring something from the outside to complete His nature or well-being. In light of the way this evil world is, why would God want to create it when it has led to such unbearable human sufferings? Is there really a God who cares?”
These kinds of questions bring me to the brink of my faith. I say to God, “I believe in you. Please don’t let me go. I feel like I’m losing it. Devilish thoughts are coming at me. Don’t let me get to the point of giving up my faith for lack of knowledge and understanding. Help me.” As I’ve wrestled in painful times with these thoughts and questions, I’ve realized that God is allowing me to go through some painful unchartered waters for a purpose. Another question then arises, “Lord, what do you want me to see?” And, I come back to the question, “Why did you create a world like this?”
Recently, in the midst of a time of personal suffering, it occurred to me that God is not a selfish being like us corrupted humans, but rather, God is a selfless being. Before He created anything, He could imagine a world that is good, a world without evil. Thus, He wills to create us because He sees how wonderful life can be. He sees how much joy and happiness we would get out of being part of such a world, and thus, He made this earth to be our home, a home with all its beauty and satisfying discoveries to enjoy. “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), I am the Lord, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18). God also knows that we would cherish a relationship with a God who loves us and who would cherish to be loved by us (1 John 1:1-3). As many people know who have truly experienced it, God-like love is a beautiful thing. Why would a selfless God see such possibilities and potential and not want to make such a world available for other creatures to enjoy?
Yes, His human creatures have fallen away, but God can see that all is not lost. He stays with it and is faithful in his love to help us return to Him, knowing that many will want to return. In Jeremiah 29:10:14, consider what God says to the people who have strayed away from Him. I quote it here, knowing that many may not take the time to look it up. The context is that God has sent His people away into exile because of their long and continuing unfaithfulness to Him. The words here may be for Israel, but through God’s New Covenant, the truths here are extended to all persons who want a relationship with God.
“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon,
I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare
and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. ‘Then you will call upon Me
and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. ‘You will seek Me and find Me
when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the
LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations
and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will
bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”
The thing that keeps God faithful not to give up on us is that He knows some will respond to His saving help, and will become loyal and precious persons in a loving relationship with Him and with one another. He knows His creation is not a total failure, or a waste place, and He gives us hope for a great future, free from all that is bad and evil. Such a Biblical understanding of God gives me a renewed hope and joy that makes me want to hang in there and get to where He is planning to get us to. Suddenly, my doubts seem to disburse, and in spite of my pain, I feel a new energy to stay in my relationship with him until I experience that victorious day of becoming part of God’s new world, one which He has designed with us in mind. I regain the assurance that He does care and I renew my faith to continue to work with Him in becoming the wonderfully created person He knows I will become. More than that, I realize that in order to enjoy God’s created world, and life to its fullest, I must be restored to the image of God that has been marred. I must become like God, a person of love and self-giving to those around me. “Jesus, change me!”
Take heart fellow sufferers. The future that God has planned for us has already begun. God has said, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The future of God’s new creation is on its way and is destined to freedom from its corruption (read Romans 8:18-25). Therefore, keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:11-12). “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Jesus also suffered great pain. He understands its agony. Let us “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2). May we too receive the joy set before us, enabling us to endure our momentary sufferings. Remember, relief is on its way, not only later, but by God’s grace, even now, through graciously answered prayers that are being offered up for our current situation (Hebrews 4:14-16). Take heart! Our God is for us!