The story is told of the only survivor of a shipwreck who was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.
Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.
But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. God, how could you do this to me? he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. How did you know I was here? asked the weary man of his rescuers.
We saw your smoke signal, they replied.
It is so very difficult to find anything good in the midst of tragedy. If we could look into the future to see how things turn out in the end, we could have peace of mind, but all we can see is the bad that is happening in our lives right now. Part of faith, though, is trusting that God will work everything out in time.
I think of Bible characters who must have struggled with this. Joseph, for example. Do you suppose Joseph ever said, God, why is this happening? After being sold into slavery by his brothers, shipped to a foreign country where eventually he was thrown into jail for a crime he didnt commit, dont you suppose Joseph ever prayed to God and said, I dont understand? We understand but, of course, we have the benefit of seeing how the story turned out.
I dont think its wrong to ask God tough questions (there certainly were plenty of great Bible characters who did that!). But even if we dont receive any answers, we maintain our faith in a God who is bigger than our trials. We need to allow God to be the Lord of the good days and the bad days.
Habakkuk was one of those Bible characters who wanted to know, Why? He was given some explanation, but ultimately he was led to close his prophecy with this beautiful expression of faith:
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Allow God to be the Lord of the good days and the bad days.
© 2001, Alan Smith. Used by permission. This devotional was reprinted from Thought for the Day.
Title: "When We Don't Understand"
Author: Alan Smith
Publication Date: October 11, 2001