What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31 (NIV)
God is for us. This is where it gets confusing for most of us. If He’s really for us, shouldn’t things go our way or at the very least shouldn’t bad things not happen to us?
Not necessarily. If God is for us, it may mean not getting what I want at all.
I love my cats to death. I’m going to use them as an example, because I don’t have kids, and because God ministers to me through their antics all the time. When it comes to being “for” someone, they’re a prime example, because I’m responsible for their lives even though they’re furry little things and not human beings.
Warning right now: I’m going to throw out a whole bunch of terms of endearment. If you can handle it, and I’ll tell you exactly what I mean by being for them and exactly why, even though I love them, I don’t always give them what they want.
If my kitten littles had their way, they would run around outside until their hearts’ content. They would eat wet food all the live long day. They would sharpen their claws on our nice furniture. And they would cuddle with me for hours and hours and hours on end. It would be a dream, and they would live happily ever after.
There’s only one problem with all of that: pretty much everything.
We live in New York City, so running around outside would mean dodging literally hundreds of pedestrians, cars, ambulances, bikes, scooters, stray cats, and pitbulls, because that is my block’s version of a golden retriever. And it’s safe to say not a single one of those aforementioned things would give two licks about two previously domesticated kit kits venturing outside for the very first time.
I know my cats. I love my cats. And they couldn’t handle it no matter how big and bad they think they are. They have a conniption fit every time they so much as catch a glance of the fluffy black cat across the hall. A pitbull would send them running for the hills.
Then there’s the wet food. My cats loooove wet food. It’s their version of rocky road, and they’d eat it by the tin if they could. That sounds all cute and sweet except that our littlest kitten biddle (as I also call them) has a serious weight issue. She will literally eat herself into obesity if no one stands in her way, and then she will no longer be able to jump, or run, or do crazy ninja moves off of the front door just because she feels like it. So she’s on a diet, and every once in a while she likes to lament it. But because we love her and care about her and don’t want to see her with kit kit diabetes or kidney stones or worse, we restrict her food intake and that’s just the way it is. We keep her from what she loves, because we love her.
The same goes for sharpening their claws on our furniture. These little biddles love to do it. It brings out the inner animal in them. But we don’t let them do it, because it’s destructive. No matter how badly they want to tear up our microsuede couch, it’s not allowed. Claw sharpening happens on the cardboard or carpet claw-sharpening cat things and nowhere else.
And as far as cuddling goes, there has to be a limit. Because at some point, I need to feel my arms or my legs or be able to stand up, walk to the kitchen, feed myself, get dressed, leave the house, go to work, and do all sorts of things outside of cuddling so that I can afford to feed them the wet food they love so much so they can continue to live.
I could go on and on, with examples, but the point is I keep my cats from things they desire with all of their heart, because I love them. And while I know they’re made to be free and wild and eat mice as often as they want, I also know this broken world is upside down enough that those things aren’t going to work. Sometimes the things they think they want are dangerous, unhealthy, destructive, or just plain over the top. So I give them what’s best instead.
If I then, being evil (i.e. selfish and perfectly capable of making bad choices), know how to give good gifts, how much more does God also know? And how much more might you or I have to either have to wait for or do without something we love or desire, because in this upside down world what we want might not be right for us right now.
I don’t like the idea of waiting. It goes against my very nature, and there’s a big part of me that gets super impatient with all of the things I’m waiting for. But one of the things I’m repeatedly learning in this life is that waiting doesn’t mean God isn’t for me. Sometimes it’s the very opposite. Sometimes waiting is a sign of His love, even when I can’t make sense of it one way or another.
So our God is for us. Right where He’s placed us, right where we are, right in the middle of the waiting we do. And through this kind of waiting we are more than conquerors, because Jesus paid it all. He’s purchased our freedom. And someday the things our hearts call out for will likely come to pass if they are in fact good – maybe in this world, maybe in heaven. It’s not always our job to know, but it is always our job to believe. Until then we fix our gaze and run the race, knowing Jesus is by our side and God is most definitely for us.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. – Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)
Original photo of Beautiful Teenage Girl by David Castillo Dominici from freedigitalphotos. net. Text added by Stephanie Oh.