During my time as a Nashville Fellow I have learned a lot of lessons that I never expected to learn. One of these lessons has proved to be very valuable as the year has progressed. Through various trials and encounters with pain, I found myself questioning God. I questioned whether he was as powerful as everybody said. I questioned whether he cared about the things I was experiencing. I even questioned whether he is a good God at all. Things were not easy, and I thought that God had just abandoned me or turned a blind eye. I learned, rather quickly, that he had done the exact opposite. Instead of turning his back on me and allowing me to fester in my own emotions and self-destruction, he patiently stood by me even amid my angry ignorance. I started to notice the support system he had given me. His word eventually started to become more precious to me, and I soon learned that instead of growing distant from me in my anger, God was graciously embracing me, demonstrating his love as Abba Father by assuring me that he could handle my questions. My bitterness eventually evolved into a prayer for assurance of the promise he had given me in James 4:8, that if I would draw near to him, he would draw near to me. And he did. He demonstrated that he is indeed Jehovah Shalom and Jehovah Rapha. He is Yahweh, ever deserving of my praise, even when I don’t understand him. Nay, especially when I don’t understand him. Praise be to Christ.
Obviously, this was a lesson that I needed to be taught, and prayerfully I will continue to meditate on his promises in my heart and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit to grow firm in the truth. I learned quickly that the Lord had not taught me this lesson so that I would simply allow it to affect my heart alone. God, in his sovereignty, crossed my path with that of a student in pain. To preserve your time and his anonymity, I will spare the details, but this became the most precious moment I have had as a Fellow. The student, having experienced immense tragedy, would rarely engage with leaders in a serious manner and never shared his emotions about the event that had changed his life forever. Then, one night, almost out of the blue, he shared that he wanted to trust God, but he just couldn’t because he was mad at God. He couldn’t understand why God in all of his “might” would not intervene to alter the circumstances he had endured. He was struggling to believe that God was in fact a good, loving Father. I did not blame him for these questions. In fact, it had not been long since I had asked similar questions. I was given the opportunity to embrace this young man and assure him that God could handle his questions and God could handle his anger. God invites us to draw near to him with our questions and allow him to reveal his character to us. He is surely a good Father even when we do not comprehend the depths of his thoughts.
I pray that this will not be lost on us. God does not expect us to fully understand, instead he wants to show us more of his heart so that we may run to him in reliance for nourishment and strength. It is in our weakness that his power is made perfect. He is El Shaddai, God Almighty. He wants to show us that he is our God and we are his people. What a sweet assurance to be called a child of the One True King, our loving Father. Praise be to him forever and ever. Amen.