Do you ever struggle with the truth that God is reliable?
I confess that's sometimes been a problem with me, and after years of doubts, I think I've figured out what's behind this feeling.
Well, I should clarify that. As I'm sure you know, God always answers our prayers in one of three ways: Yes, No, and Wait. It's those "No" answers that we mistake for unanswered prayer. Because we don't like the answer, because God didn't answer the way we wanted, we lump in those responses as unanswered prayer.
So God is reliable in answering prayer, every time, but I, as a sinful, flawed human being, choose to count only those "Yes" answers.
When we're honest enough to not try to manipulate God and let him be himself, not our magic genie, we have to grudgingly admit that yes, he is reliable.
Let's investigate exactly how...
By doubting, I was in good company. The apostle Thomas, no matter how much good he later did in his lifetime, has forever been nicknamed "Doubting Thomas" because he wouldn't believe Jesus had risen from the dead unless he touched the Savior himself.
Thomas wasn't the only one. Jesus was constantly asking his followers why they doubted and had such little faith.
Like Thomas, we all tend to be stuck in the material world. We want visible, touchable, solid proof. We've been scammed by politicians, businesses, and sometimes even friends or relatives.
This is an important point: One of God's unquestionable attributes is his faithfulness, or reliability. Because God is sovereign and almighty, nobody and nothing can prevent him from doing what he wants to do. God doesn't make excuses. He always gets his way.
Once you grasp this, your doubts become a lot less powerful.
We often put our life in other people's hands. We're willing to trust our life to an airline pilot, bus driver, or even a niece or nephew who just got their driver's license.
We trust our doctor with our life. We trust our pastor to tell us the truth. We trust investment advisers, insurance agents, and banks. We put a lot of trust in fallible, imperfect human beings, and yet we can't believe that God is reliable? Say what?
So why do we trust these people more than we trust God? Is it just because they're visible, and he's not? Is it because we don't understand how he's going to help us? Or is it because as hurt human beings, we're basically cynical?
Maybe, deep down inside of us, God sounds too good to be true. It hurts to be betrayed. We guard against it like fanatics. We just can't accept the truth that there is someone who always, without exception, gives us what's best for us.
When we get over the absurd notion that we know better than God what we should have, it's actually a massive relief that this being who knows the future is steering us right.
Sometimes Jesus sounded exasperated with his disciples. After all, they had lived and traveled with him every day for three years.
They'd seen him do astounding miracles, like raise people from the dead, cure the blind, and feed huge crowds with a few fish and loaves of bread. You'd think after experiences like that, even the most doubtful men would have been convinced God is reliable.
Then and now, there's a disconnect between our world and God's world. We have limitations. He has none. We can't do much. He can do anything. We are weak, both in faith and power. He is omnipotent. He created the entire universe by speaking it into existence!
Those aren't excuses for us. They're just explanations. Maintaining our faith is a lifelong struggle. Just when we think we're making progress, something comes along, through no fault of our own, to hit us from the blind side.
So if you've doubted God lately, like I did, don't beat yourself up either. God is supernaturally patient with us. He's forgiving. Understanding. And most of all, head over heels in love with us. Yes, God is reliable.
Thanks, God, for being patient with me. I've got a lot to learn and a long way to go. Next time I'll try to remember how far we've come together, and that you're not going to stop taking care of me. Ever.
We can say, "Oh, God hasn't answered a lot of my prayers, so in my case, he's just not reliable."
God's reliability doesn't depend on our interpretation of events. What we see isn't everything that's going on behind the scenes. Remember, just because you got a "No" answer to some of your prayers doesn't mean God didn't answer them.
Part of having a perfect heavenly Father means recognizing that he always--always--knows what's best for us. If you lose a job, a person you consider the perfect spouse, or even your health, you have to trust that God has something better.
I know, because all those things happened to me!
Getting angry at God because we can't get our own way is a natural reaction but not the right one. Trusting God seems like taking a leap of faith but his colossal love for you makes trusting a no-brainer.
Things are not always what they seem, but God is always guiding you toward him and Home.