Sunday, August 1, 2010


Holding God Hostage

Sometimes, we go through things in life that may be hard for us to equate to the Scriptural ideals we have about not only who God is, but who we are in Him

Is God a Provider?  Yes, but that doesn't mean we will never have financial hardships.
Is God a Deliverer?  Yes, but that doesn't mean you will never suffer.
Is God a Healer?  Yes, but that doesn't mean we will never endure sickness.
Is God a Buckler?  Yes, but that doesn't mean we will never undergo attack.

How is it that we say God is all of these things, yet our experiences don't always seem to reflect that reality in our lives?  We look in His word and see one thing, but look at our lives and see another.  Why is this?

Some will say you have to "name it and claim it".  Simply confess that it is true and it will be true. As a result, people are walking around treating God like a genie in a bottle, converting His words into Buddhist mantras that are supposed to speak these promises into being.

Others may say perhaps you simply don't have enough faith.  Jesus God paid for all at Calvary.  He nailed every curse to the tree.  If you have enough faith, God will deliver you from your situation.  Another assertion is that there is some sin in your life. You must have somehow opened the door to allow Satan the opportunity to attack you.  Therefore you need to seek God on what that is and repent, and then your situation will change.

The unspoken belief behind each of these perspectives is that God promises Christians an earthly walk which will be devoid of trial, sickness, discomfort, stress, hardship, or suffering.  Therefore, when such things occur, it must be an indicator that something is wrong in your relationship with God.  Yet, is this Biblical? 

I am not downplaying the importance of faith or belittling the serious impacts of sin. I am saying that the realization of God's promises may not always be how we think. We cannot hold God hostage to how we believe He should resolve situations. Yes, we can make our petitions known to Him and remind Him of the promises put forth in His word.  Yes, He commands us to ask, seek, & knock; and so we should.  I am not talking about complacency here.  I am encouraging us to take a broader view of the purpose behind circumstances God allows in our lives as He completes His perfect work in us.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." II Cor. 12:7-10

Paul is enduring some sort of satanic affliction - and while we are not told what this is, we know that it makes him feel weak.  I say "feel" because Paul had to be shown that this physical condition of weakness did not define his spiritual reality.  What he thought to be a physical detriment was actually a spiritual help that God was using to develop more of His strength within him.

Here is someone in the power of the Spirit, preaching the Gospel to the whole known world with mighty signs & wonders following...yet he was often poor, whipped, persecuted, afflicted, and suffering with infirmity.

This infirmity, this reproach, this necessity, this persecution, this distress so affected Paul that he had called repeatedly for the Lord to remove it...yet He did not.

Does God's refusal mean that Paul was not a believer?  Does it mean that God was unable to deliver him?  Did it mean that Paul simply didn't have enough faith?  Was this thorn in the flesh the consequence of sin in Paul's life?  Did the presence of this affliction mean he was not walking in the power of God?  No. God was purposefully using this issue to disempower Paul in the flesh so that he could be empowered more in the spirit. 

It is this truth which gave Paul the peace to say the following:

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:11b-13

So my question is, "Have we also learned the same?"  People will often quote the "I can do all things through Christ" text, but Paul is NOT speaking here of our ability to be supermen.  The "all things" Christ is strengthening us to do in this text is to endure hardships & sufferings just as well as when we are abounding & flourishing.  It is our ability to lean on, and look to, the strength of Christ regardless of our situation.

Commentators have argued for years about exactly what this "thorn in the flesh" Paul experienced is.  Some have said Paul was speaking of a person physically persecuting him.  Others have surmised that he is referencing his own physical sickness of poor eyesight (Galatians 4:13-15).  I happen to believe that God - in His wisdom - is deliberately vague about it.  It simply doesn't matter.

The focus of that text is not Paul's infirmity, but that believers understand how our flesh is to be continually delivered unto death for the life of Christ to be made manifest (II Corinthians 4:10-11).  And the mechanism God uses to accomplish this is often affliction.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18

We need to keep in mind why we are here and the work God is going within us.  God is not trying to give us our "best life now".  The things we endure in this world serve an important purpose; and God alone knows what each person needs to go through to have that purpose accomplished. 

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."  Romans 8:26-29

The mere fact that God has to tell us that all things work together for good to them that love Him & are called by His purpose testifies that it may not always look that way.

There may be situations we face which seem bleak, hopeless, and like anything but good. Yet, according to His word, we cannot look at the situation. Even our afflictions God is using to do a "good" work; conforming us into the image of His Son.

God's saving power is not only seen in Him delivering us FROM a situation, but Him delivering us IN the situation.  We can also see this in the story of the Hebrew boys in the Book of Daniel.

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Daniel 3:16-18

Three little words..."But if not".

Was this an expression of doubt?  Was it evidence that the Hebrew boys simply didn't have enough faith in God to be delivered?  No.  It expressed their knowledge that being servants of the Lord was not dependent upon, or defined by, what they had to go through in this present, temporal life.

These men had faith that their relationship with God transcended their worldly experiences and gave them power over those experiences; not because they were protected from the experience, but because He was with them through it.  Subjecting themselves first to His will in their lives, they exalted Him as God regardless of how He worked out that present trial.  And in fact, their reward in that faith was not that they were kept from the fire, but that God stood with them in the fire.

Yes, God is our Deliverer!  Yet, we should also know that the very things we may be seeking deliverance from could be the thing that God is using to work death in us...which is our deliverance!  Having our minds transformed away from the cares of this life and the flesh crucified so that we are not moved by circumstances in this world is deliverance!

Don't let your situation define who you are in the Lord, but seek for His will to be done in all areas.  Our victory lies primarily not in what we are going through, but in Who is bringing us through it.  So regardless of how the earthly situation unfolds, we can stand victorious because we stand in Him.

"Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." I John 4:4


  1. This was a great post and relates to the situations in my life right now. I am going through a lot of things in my life right now. I know if it were not for God I would be at my breaking point if not already broken down. I struggle sometimes with being faithful to God and his word. I know it is either a test from God or the devil seeing me as a threat. Either way I must have faith and build a stronger relationship with God. I know he has a purpose for my life and I seek to do his will and have faith in whatever he chooses for me.

  2. Just came across your blog today via another blogger's blog roll. So happy to have discovered your site. I really enjoyed your thorough discussion. As I read it brought Rom 8:35, 37 to mind "Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." Which tells me that at times even the believer will face some or all of those situations in our walk but it does not deny the fact of who God is. You're so right God's way of delivering us often doesn't look/feel like deliverance at all. So much meat to clean from your post.

  3. this was a great post and people need to know that no matter if you are wordly or a child of GOD going through trials and tribulations is a part of life. The devil really likes to mess with children of GOD simply because he wants to destroy us. a friend of mine has been living with her boyfriend for a few years and life has pretty much been a breeze but the moment she decided that she wanted to get out thats when the devil started to "go for blood" in her life. this is a classic example that if the devil is not messing with you and i mean really attacking you in your life its because he already has you but when he starts trying to turn your world upside down its because he is trying to get you. But remember to keep your eyes and your mind on GOD so that you do not sink!!!!

  4. Althea,
    My husband asked me to visit this site and I am so glad he did. As a born again believer you know that you must travel the way of the cross of Jesus Christ. In doing so I have realized that the biggest hinderance is selfishness. Today you have reminded me that the very thing that I amseeking deliverance from, is the thing God is using to work death in me.

  5. I needed this post, this was right on time. I needed to be reminded that trials do not mean I'm outside of God's will. For a moment, I thought only sin could allow trials in my life. But, now I am reminded that the Christian will face trying situations and they're moments that can still be used for the glory of God.


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