Surrender After the Storm

The deal is still on. The buyers are still in. Our house should close next week. What a relief! Very thankful! Full of gratefulness. But…the surrendered soul does not end the process there. Rebecca and I, while thoroughly relieved that our house sale did not fall through, now must account for the fact that God’s rescue is the scandal, not the fact that the sale was jeopardized and could have fallen through. We deserved to lose the deal. God mercifully held it together. We have been recipients of grace again.

However, there is yet another layer to this. Say, we had lost the sale. Even in that moment, God would be gracious. You see, loses, bad news, bummers, red lights, no’s, closed doors, and cloudy days are not judgment for the believer. They are disciplines, but disciplines of grace; the actions of a loving Father toward his children. If we had lost the sale, the God who rescued the sale would have been the God who ordained its loss for our good. In fact, there is a peril in our rescue. We could subtly think we deserved it; that we got what was normal. No! We received the ironic outcome. God held the fall at bay.

So, two things a surrendered soul does in response to a rescue: First, the surrendered soul is very, very grateful, even in small rescues. Two, the surrendered soul acknowledges that God would still be good if the loss was actualized and that the loss would have been used by God for the good of the child of God, even that God would continue to deepen the level of surrender in his child by the loss. So, the surrendered soul sees God’s goodness in both sweet providence and severe mercies. In other words, the surrendered soul is able to be surrendered in any circumstance because it believes that the child of God is in a win-win situation this side of salvation. God works for his children, for their good, in both blessings and severity.

So, we are thankful. But…we must account for the fact that if God only gave us good news, we would have less of a life of joy because there would be less cross in this life. Before we are prepared for the crown, we must know the cross. I hope you received good news today. But, if you didn’t, God is still richly blessing you in the long run.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Surrender After the Storm

  1. Tony Shook

    Pastor Jay,
    Surrender, not something that AMERICANS are good at. The idea of suborning MY way to another…we see it everyday on the road when someone risks a collision rather than yield to another (even if it is you who have the right of way, is it worth dying for?). And how in the world does anyone expect ANYONE to remain trusting to a God who allows the no’s, unemployment, cancer, etc on and on forever…
    Twenty-three years, 7 months and 23 days Kathy and I waited for a yes, but all we saw and heard were countless no’s. No swarmy, plaster a smile on my face and sing praises all the time…no, quite the reverse in fact. Many times I felt like turning my back on God, but as Peter put it, “Lord, to whom else can we go?
    Now that I’m out and STILL looking for full time employment (another employer called while I was typing this to give me the latest turn down), I still wonder, God are you there and do you care?
    Yes, I know that He does intellectually, but deep down in my “bowels”, I wonder and I wait for what is to come.

  2. Greg

    Hi Jay,
    when you say that “losses, bad news, bummers…are…the actions of a loving Father” who “ordains” these things, are you saying that God CAUSES horrific things to happen in people’s lives? Or that these things happen in a fallen world and he REDEEMS those things?

    Thanks for any clarification on this.
    -Greg

    • Greg,

      Great question. Massive question. Perhaps something to coffee over to unpack further. My answer, and I think the Biblical answer, is yes – to both parts of your question. Some real brief reasons:
      1. In Romans 8.20 it says: “For the creation was subjected to futility (the Fall), not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in the hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” I think that verse means, while Adam sinned, was the accountable one for his sin, was not tempted by God, nor was made to sin, that God caused the consequence of that sin, namely, the fallen world, which is the condition where horrific things happen – both morally and circumstantially horrific.
      2. In the prophets, God is the one who clearly ordains that foreign nations attack, pillage, and take into exile the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel. In each of these situations, there was death, cruelty, devastation, etc. Read the beginning of Habakkuk. God brought these things to pass as a judgment and disciple for the sinful nation of Israel. Read some of the Biblical records of those judgments. They were horrific. And yet, God would redeem them. He would use them to exact judgment even on the agents he used for judgment (the Egypt-Pharoah story is the same), he would ultimately protect the faithful, and he would foreshadow the cross.
      3. The most crucial Biblical and theological piece for me in this discussion of God’s sovereign will and the nature of suffering is the cross itself. The Bible is clear. God predestined the cross. Acts 4.27-28 says: “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” So, again, we see human responsibility (Herod, Pilate, Gentiles, Israel plotting to kill Jesus) and yet the overarching sovereign hand of God to put Jesus on the cross. Think about the theo-logic here: the worst thing, them most horrific thing, that ever happened, morally and circumstantially, was the death of a perfectly righteous, Divine man, Jesus. But, at the same time, that death was the means God used to save sinners and reverse the fall itself. It is both a hard doctrine but a beautiful doctrine. Out of that theo-logic flows for me the vision of God’s sovereign will in ordaining calamity. God is sovereign, but it does not negate human will, moral accountability, nor reduce the actuality of the suffering itself. But, God is good and we can trust Romans 8.28, that God works all these things together for our good…precisely because of how the cross shades the discussion. As a pastor, I want to comfort people in pain and not reduce it AND I want people to trust that God is sovereign over their situation as the ultimate mover. The less comforting reality, in my mind, is a world where God is not causal in suffering but only comforting and redeeming. I think he is all three but in a profoundly deep way we do not fully understand.

      OK, that is verse dense and terse. Let’s get together to unpack that more. Massive truth, but a very important one to process over and over again. Thanks for that question, Greg!

      • Greg

        Hi Jay,
        I’ve been ruminating about your response for a while and while I appreciate the need to reaffirm God’s sovereignty, I find it somewhat discomforting that God may “ordain” or be “causal” in calamity. For instance, would one go so far as to argue that God was a “causal” agent in the Holocaust; or that God “ordained” Apartheid; or that it was God’s actions as the “ultimate mover” that gave cancer to a loved one? Is there a distinction to be made between calamity as a specific act of judgment (such as in the case of the Old Testament calamities/atrocities and Jesus’ death) and other “random” calamities? I certainly have no doubt about God’s ability to redeem such calamities; I just wonder about His roll in the causality of such things.

        Thanks for prompting this reflection. Feel free to respond to me offline, if you’d prefer.
        -Greg

  3. Bill

    Jay,
    As you know, I am still looking for employment after a good length of time. Joyce and I wonder sometimes if I should really keep looking with all of the no’s I have encountered (and there have been plenty). We really know the answer is that I do need to keep looking because I do need employment. The Friday morning that you prayed for me in your office gave me a special feeling. I do not know if it was because you are a pastor and “you are supposed to know how to pray and pray better than the rest of us” or what. All I know is I do appreciate the fact that you do continue to pray for me and think about me.

    Without God in my life I am not sure how I could have made it through this. I pray all of the time and there are a lot of people praying for me. I have actually had a chance a job but I felt it was just not right for me. When I told Joyce about the position, she agreed. God has not answered my prayer the way I want but I feel blessed in other ways. I go back to the message Pastor Oscar gave the Sunday after the 40th anniversary of the church. Maybe I am part of a miracle but missing the point. This is what I have to hold onto.

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