“God knows there's a purpose,
God knows there's a chance,
God knows you can rise above the darkest hour
Of any circumstance.”
I was listening to a sermon earlier today on Act 5, the bit where the apostles are put into prison by the jealous leaders of Israel. An angel rescues them. Next day when someone is sent to fetch the prisoners, they discover the door still locked, the soldiers on guard still doing their job, but the birds have flown the coop.
The preacher lamented that in today’s world, there are no angelic rescues.
Even in the early church, not everyone got angelically rescued, or rescued at all in fact. The apostles in chapter 5 got rescued, so did Peter later on, but James didn’t get rescued. He was put to death with the sword.
If I had been James, I might have been a little put out – that is before being decapitated.
Why do some people get rescued and others don’t?
It’s all about what serves the purposes of God and what brings him the greater glory. Yes, it has got to be pretty glorious to testify to opened prison doors. Maybe that is the kind of testimony that appeals to people – deliverance and freedom.
I think that the un-rescued, the ones that get put to death with the sword, speak a testimony that may not appeal to people who prefer to be delivered, but to the unseen heavenly hosts, to the rulers and principalities in the spiritual realm.
My brother finds it difficult that I can still believe in an all powerful, all loving God despite all the horrors of this year – my sister’s illness and death, his own advanced cancer and soon-to-be death. If God loved me, why did he allow these things to happen?
If God loved James, why did he allow him to be beheaded? Did he love Peter more?
I trust that the events that I have lived through these last few months, and my faith, battered rather but still there, serve God’s purpose. It’s not that I have not had my tantrums, not shed my tears, not questioned the reason for it all, not beaten myself on occasion for not praying more, for not stretching out a potentially healing hand – I’ve have done that and more. I can remind myself that this short stretch of tough times doesn’t outweigh the thirty years or more of fellowship and friendship with God and that there is joy yet to come – in this life and in the next, but it doesn’t stop me hurting now.
The powers and principalities would like to see me throw in the towel. They would like to remind me that I didn’t sign on for any of this. All credit to me that I lasted as long as I did. I fought a good fight. I can walk away with dignity!
Where is the glory to God in that? Do I just hang around with God because of the perks? Isn’t that what Satan said of Job? That he was just sticking with God because God treated him nice? Take away some of the treats, Satan challenged, and you wouldn’t see Job for dust. And Job’s reply (amid all the tears):-
“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” Job 13:15