“I hope all my customers are like you today.”
That was the comment a customer service representative said to me recently. I took a risk with my response. I said,
“Jesus makes me be this way. Thanks.”
He decided to be vulnerable as well, admitting going to church every Sunday. He then indicated that good things began happening to him since he started.
I responded with:
“And bad things even when you are being obedient as God desires to glorify Himself and make His children look more and more like His Son. Sometimes He gives them cancer. Sometimes He does other things. It’s all for great reasons. He is worthy to be trusted in the good and what we would call ‘bad.’ That’s a BIG God. A BIG, GOOD GOD.”
Hopefully that down-to-earth approach to theology isn’t foreign to you. It took a car salesman by surprise many years ago when we lived in Las Vegas.
We were shopping for used car and found one that we liked. We did the research and entered into negotiation with the salesman and, finally, the sales manager. We settled on a bottom line price that meant a good deal for us while still allowing them to make a little money. That’s when I decided to take the test drive. We started out heading west on Sahara Boulevard in order for the saleman to put gas in the tank. While it was filling, I decided to open the hood (what I would find, I do not know. I know nothing about engines). The salesman then commented that I was getting a very good deal, acting a bit surprised that his boss agreed to our terms. From our discussion on the lot, he knew I was a pastor. That’s why he stated, standing in front of the car, looking down into the engine, “Good things happen when go to church and pray.”
He did not expect my response!
I told him that, in fact, my soon-to-be-car might actually turn out to be a lemon (a car with a lot of costly issues). I said that God may choose to grow me closer to the image of His beloved Son by giving me a car that ends up having a lot of problems. I stated that all I could was pray, make the best decision based upon the facts available and trust God with the results.
We bought the car. And–thankfully–it turned out to be an awesome car. We think fondly of that Hyundai Sonata to this day. And our theology has not changed. Then, as now, we reject the concept that God is Aladdin’s genie. Sometimes He sends trials when we faithfully attend church. Sometime He puts us in difficult situations when we maintain an active prayer life.
God doesn’t make life easier on His children simply because they are His children. In reality, He often makes it more challenging. Why? Because that’s how He most effectively accomplishes His mission of glorifying Himself and making Christians more like Christ. And that is exactly what Christians desire!
Are you a believer going through a particularly hard trial? Rejoice that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing. Thank Him that He is omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good; always merciful). Your suffering is not in vain. Rather than rub Aladdin’s vase, trust the Sovereign God!