Day 117: April 27, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Matthew 16:21-26 Read Online
Mark 8:31-37 Read Online
Luke 9:22-25 Read Online


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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it.

—Luke 9:24

Rebuking God
by Amy Keys, Member of Brentwood Baptist, The Church at Station Hill

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written by C.S. Lewis, Lucy Pevensie is told about the strength and power of Aslan, a character symbolic of God. At hearing the description of him, she feels afraid and asks, “But is he safe?”

“Safe?” Mr. Beaver responds, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.”[1]

Just as Lucy wanted Aslan to be safe, we want God to be what we think He should be—maybe that’s safer, friendlier, or simpler. We want Him to do things our way instead allowing Him to be amazingly untamable, perfectly holy, and beyond our understanding.

The Apostle Peter did this too. When Jesus told him He’d suffer and die, Peter balked. The Bible says he actually rebuked Jesus. Merriam-Webster defines rebuke as “to criticize sharply.” In this moment, Peter honestly believed Jesus was wrong—mistaken—so he pulled the Creator of the world aside and sharply told Him so.

Part of the reason Peter (along with the other apostles) had such a hard time wrapping his brain around Jesus’ words was that, having finally begun to grasp Jesus’ identity as the Messiah, he understood the title in a much different way. He, along with the rest of the Jewish people, expected the Messiah to “come as a conqueror…He would smash all of Israel’s enemies and restore the greatness of the nation.”[2]

As great as this idea sounded, it was wrong, and Jesus rebuked Peter right back. It wasn’t Jesus who misunderstood the situation. Stuart K. Weber explains, “Peter had tried to correct Jesus’ thinking, but Jesus showed Peter that it was his thinking that was inaccurate.”[3]

Peter’s desire to protect Jesus from pain and suffering, and to see God’s people once again rise up as a victorious nation, certainly seems noble. Yet Jesus bluntly told him he was thinking about the concerns of people, not about the concerns of God. Ouch.

None of us wants to see someone we love experience difficulties. We spend hours grappling with the question why because God’s intentions seem so backward to us. We think if we plead prayerfully enough, if we do enough things right, God will take away the suffering, frustration, or difficult circumstance.

We want to bend God to our will because, honestly, we often do believe we know best.

However, God reminds us in Isaiah 55:9, “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Because we don’t understand His ways, when our goals and His don’t line up, we get frustrated—even angry—with Him for letting us down or not hearing our prayers.

When my sister-in-law, in the same hour she gave birth to her baby girl, was told that her cancer had come back, my brain reeled. Why would a faithful God take a young mom away from her little girl? My family and I did everything we could to convince God that healing Jenny’s cancer was what He ought to do.

Like Peter, we pulled God aside and cried, “Oh no, Lord! Never!” Yet, as I stood beside her lifeless body in the hospital room, I had to bend my will to His sovereignty, though I couldn’t understand it.

It doesn’t make sense to give up our will, to give up striving to get the life we want, to submit to a God we don’t understand, but that’s exactly what He asks us to do. Give up what we think we know. Give up our expectations of what should happen in our situations. Quit trying to tell God how to answer our prayers and guide our lives, and instead allow Him to guide us with His perfect, yet sometimes perfectly frustrating, wisdom.

Only in completely giving up our own expectations, sense of entitlements, and plans, do we really find life. Only in finally trusting Him to do what He knows is right, instead of continually trying to twist His arm to do what we think is right, will we ever experience peace and fulfillment. Only in giving up all of our expectations and completely submitting to Him will we ever really live.

So, who said anything about safe? “Course God isn’t safe. But He’s good, I tell you. He’s the King.”

__________________

[1] Lewis, C.S. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. HarperCollins Publishers, p. 86

[2] Cooper, Rodney L. Holman New Testament Commentary: Mark, p. 139-140.

[3] Weber, Stuart K. Holman New Testament Commentary: Matthew, p. 255.

Reflection Questions

  1. Why did Peter rebuke Jesus?
  2. When have you thought you knew better than God?
  3. How did your alternative plan work out?
  4. In what situation are you struggling to trust God right now?
  5. What part of your life are you trying to save or trying to control, instead of surrendering it to God?

About the Author

Amy Keys

Since 2005, Amy was a member of Brentwood Baptist, then helped launch The Church at Station Hill where she’s now a member. Currently, she’s a homeschool mom who also teaches writing and history at local homeschool tutorials. Since 2002, she’s been writing for the Student Ministry department at LifeWay Christian Resources. Amy is married to Dale and they have three children: Hannah, Hayley, and Caleb. In her free time, she enjoys cooking healthy food, camping, and hiking.