Peter sighed. He looked sad as he sat with his dog, Conan, in the waiting room of the veterinarian’s office. “Missing Mom today?” asked Dad.
Peter shrugged. “I miss her all the time,” he said.
Dad nodded and gave Peter’s shoulder a squeeze. “I know. I do, too.”
“I just don’t understand why Mom had to have cancer in the first place,” said Peter angrily. “Everybody says God works everything out for our good, but I’d sure like to hear His explanation of why Mom had to die!”
Dad sighed. “It’s something we can’t understand,” he said sadly, “but we need to trust God without knowing the reason for what happened.”
Just then the vet was ready to see Conan, so Peter and Dad led their happy, jumping puppy to another room. “Conan, we’re going to get you some shots so you won’t get sick,” Peter told his dog, scratching him behind the ears. “It won’t hurt too much!”
But when the vet came in and stuck the needle into Conan’s leg, the puppy yelped and jumped right off the table! Dad, the vet, and Peter all had to work together to calm the frightened dog and lift him back up for his next shot.
“Conan,” grunted Peter, holding his dog down, “we’re not trying to hurt you. We’re doing this because we love you. You don’t want to get sick, right? Are you mad at me, Conan?” Conan stared at Peter with sad brown eyes. Peter patted his head. “I could tell you again why you’re getting shots, but I can’t make you understand. You’ve just got to trust us.” As he spoke, a thought flashed through his mind, and he gave Dad a little smile.
On their way home, Peter turned to Dad. “I’ve been acting like Conan, haven’t I?” asked Peter. “God knows the reason for what happened to Mom, but He knows we wouldn’t understand even if He explained it to us.”
“That’s right,” said Dad. “Let’s try to remember that His ways are much better than ours, and that He loves us–even more than you love Conan.”
Peter nodded as he hugged Conan and scratched behind the puppy’s ears.
In Isaiah 55:1-9, God contrasts his thoughts and ways with the sinful thoughts and ways of the Israelites. Human plans inevitably fail and falter, but God’s plans are different. When He promises forgiveness and restored blessing for His people, He will be true to His word. Just as the rain and snow fall to the ground and fulfill their God-given purpose unhindered, God’s promises and purposes will be realized.
The phrase “to seek the Lord” means to approach Him through prayer and repentance. This carries with it the idea of discerning and imitating God’s way of life and His character. The phrase “while He may be found” means that the opportunity to respond is urgent. The language of this passage echoes other passages that look forward to a time when God will restore His repentant people.
Jesus has extended a written invitation to everyone to accept Him by faith as their Saviour. For the children of Israel, the Jews would have a problem with this. They considered themselves to be God’s chosen people. God commanded them to keep their ethnic origins and their religious worship pure. They were to be a light to everyone, including the Gentiles. They were to bring a message of salvation to everyone. If they failed to remain pure in race and religion, God could not use them to bring the message of salvation to everyone.
The problem was that the Jews became so exclusive in race and so restrictive in religion that they refused to include others in God’s plan for salvation. God had to find someone else to fulfill His purpose, and that someone was Jesus.
The Jews emphasized deeds over the thoughts of the heart. God reverses the order. He emphasizes the heart over deeds. God’s thoughts and ways aren’t simply human thoughts and ways raised to the divine level. God thinks in ways that we can’t think and acts in ways that we can’t act. We can’t always understand His ways. His thoughts and ways accomplish His purpose. Even when we can’t understand what God is doing, He asks us to trust Him. He knows what He is doing, even if we can’t understand what He is doing.
Although the invitation is open to everyone, God expects a response. It’s like a couple who are planning their wedding. They send out invitations and expect the recipients to respond. God’s invitation is timeless and timely, but there are times when He is especially near and easily found. The Holy Spirit leads us to those moments.
The Bible tells us not to delay living for Christ. Life is uncertain. An accident or a sudden health crisis may occur at any time, and we might not have a chance to turn to God. In addition, as we get older our hearts often become hardened and insensitive toward God. If we want to enjoy a life with God and feast on His heavenly banquet, we have to acknowledge our true thirst and hunger. When we do, we will be filled to overflowing.
We often try to solve our problems by ourselves when we should take them to the One with the answer-God. He knows everything. He is the One we need for the answers we seek. We can avoid so many troubles and gain greater clarity, vision and direction if we ask God first.
If we are truly seeking God’s will for our lives, a breaking point will happen if a person or situation isn’t part of God’s plan for our lives. We may pray, cry or even scream at God, but His love surpasses our understanding. We might not learn the reason why until years later and actually feel relief that our plans didn’t work out, but some reasons why God does what He does won’t be revealed until we get to heaven.
For example, in 1818, Louis Braille was sitting in his father’s workshop. His father was a harness maker, and Louis loved watching his father work. He even wanted to be a harness maker just like his father. His father started teaching him how to cut pieces and punch holes in the leather. Once when Louis hit the hole-puncher, it flew out of his hand and pierced his eye, leaving him fully blind. This led to an infection that spread to his other eye and eventually cost him the sight in that eye.
Years later Louis was sitting in the garden when someone handed him a pine cone, As he ran his fingers over the pine cone, he got an idea. What if the blind could learn to read with their hands? He created an entire alphabet with raised dots. That enabled millions of blind people to read to this very day.
Louis Braille’s loss of sight had a purpose, but it took years of living with his blindness before he began to see the reason for his pain. Our pain has a purpose as well. Even though we might not see it, God is at work when we suffer. We have to trust Him to reveal the purpose for our pain in His own time and in His own way.
Most of the time our viewpoint is wrong. We often see things through the eyes of our own needs and comforts, or through a warped view of human justice. God stands back and sees the whole picture. We can only see a small part of the overall picture.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; p.945)
- Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 18: Isaiah 40-66 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1994)
- Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles; 2005)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Billy Graham, “Is It Ever Too Late with God?” Retrieved from www.arcamax.com
- Ed Young, “You Need Solid Food.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gwen Smith, “Who Are You Asking?” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “Volcanic Activity.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- “How God Brings Purpose to Your Pain.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Berni Dymet, “What is God Thinking?” Retrieved from email@example.com