Daily Devotions

It Isn't Our Job

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So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:21)


Biblical passages like this have soured people to the Bible and faith in God generally. The argument goes, “God promises to protect us, but bad things continue to happen, so either God is weak, God doesn’t care, God is a liar, or God doesn’t exist.” I wish I had a dollar for every time some cynical person threw that argument in my pastoral face. Sadly, I do not have the perfect, five second answer that changes the person’s heart and mind. Often, I just let them think they have won the argument and let them walk away proud of themselves.


When I care for someone who doesn’t believe in God, it hurts my soul. Yet, I am still hesitant to weigh in and try to persuade the person, of faith in God. Why do I find it so difficult? Because I believe it is not my job, even as a minister, to defend the existence of God with someone who doesn’t believe. That may sound an odd thing for a minister to say.


I believe changing one’s heart and mind is God’s job. Trying to defend God has actually driven a deeper wedge in most unbeliever’s hearts than not saying anything at all. Because we cannot prove the existence of God using our five senses, people of faith can never win the argument.


My job is to pray for them, love them, and show them respect and compassion, and let God sort out their faith issues. I should be available to talk with the person, and be willing to share my faith, even at the risk of being ridiculed, but not to make the persuasion my job. God is the only one who can persuade a person to put down their defenses and arguments and give faith a try. We can make an invitation, but God is the one to make the transformation.


I get frustrated with some of my evangelical peers who take credit for “bringing someone to Christ.” Few phrases burn my backside more than that one. The unintended arrogance! We are not that powerful. We can make the introduction, but God is the only one who can enter their heart and provide faith.


Today, pray for those in your life, and those you’ve never met, who are living without faith. Rather than praying that God will use you to “bring them to Christ,” pray that the Spirit of God will transform their life and give them faith. Who gives a darn how they develop their faith? It is self-serving when we try to inject ourselves into the process. We must trust God to “provide” faith. Our task is to humbly wait on God. That can be hard, if we love the person and want them to experience the divine joy of living in God’s light, but it is not in our control. You can say the most profound statements, but until the Holy Spirit moves in their midst, their soul will not be transformed. Just relax and trust God to bring them under God’s wing.

Needing Control Amidst the Pain

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Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. (Genesis 50:20)


Does God allow harm in order to perform a greater good? Somehow that idea bothers me. Can God be Almighty and allow unjust and evil things to occur in order to perform a greater good? If God is Almighty, couldn’t God come up with another way that doesn’t include pain and suffering?


One of my first funerals was for a woman who had just died in an automobile accident. She was in her twenties and just married. I had performed their ceremony. The husband sat in my living room and shock. In my inexperience and discomfort I sat there trying to defend God by saying, “God did not intend for her to die in this way.” He took me by surprise by interrupting. He said, “The only way I can survive this is if God planned it all along and needed her even more than I did.” I learned so much from that grieving husband that night, so long ago.


Joseph does a faithfully humble thing in forgiving his brothers, after they tried to kill him. Their jealousy and vindictiveness were not stronger than Joseph’s faith in God’s divine plan. It is easy to talk intellectually, about ethical judgments, even about God, when we are comfortable, and all is well. It is a completely different matter, when we are in the middle of our greatest fears and anguish. My friend was saying that amidst the horrendous chaos of violent death, he needed to grab hold of Divine control. If all is chaos, and God is no more than a responder to universal chaos, then God cannot be God.


Today, think about what you need from God today, and then how you would need God in the midst of your greatest tragedy. Has your faith ever been put to the test? Have you ever lost your faith? We all experience fear and doubt, because God is not fully revealed to us. How do you face your doubt? What brings you hope and trust? Then, today or tomorrow, find someone you can share this discussion with. Find out how they feel about such matters. Share your thoughts with them. Like the husband I mentioned earlier, who taught me amidst his suffering, there are those who can teach us aspects of the faith as well. Facing fear and suffering is a courageous act. You have the courage!

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