Have thine own way, Lord
August 8, 2011
by Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

According to our way of reckoning, things should be different. If God truly is a loving and powerful God, He would deliver us from our troubles.

If He is good, He should destroy what is evil, we say. This is why, for example, the French writer and philosopher Voltaire said he lost faith in God because of the Lisbon earthquake. How could God allow such a disaster?

Other skeptics point to wars, poverty, and starvation, and wonder why God doesn’t intervene.

This does not mean that God is aloof and indifferent. It only means that God has His own ways. He is not limited by finite perceptions and reason, as we are. Therefore, it is not our place to tell God how He is to go about His business.

The sinful nature will not stand for that, however. It will convince us that we know better. It will hold God to our standards of reason and justice. If God does not conform to these standards, then He must go.

The suffering and death of Jesus serves as an example. His death reveals that the sinful world had no use for a Lord who came in humility, born into a carpenter’s family.

A true Messiah would have come in glory and ushered in days of peace and prosperity for God’s people. A true Messiah would have overthrown Romans rule. Since Jesus did not conform to such expectations and desires, he was rejected and sentenced to die on a cross.

The cross, however, is where God would reveal His glory and power. This is God’s answer for the evil and corruption of the world. This is how He would intervene and save us. His Son would bear our sins and face the punishment we deserve. This was God’s way.

Who would think to look to a cross in order to see the glory and power of God? The cross was meant be humiliating. It was reserved for the basest element of society. Only the vilest offenders and slaves were crucified. It was barbaric and primitive. Yet, on that barbaric cross, between two criminals, is where God is at work, establishing the forgiveness we desperately need.

The only way to overcome sin was by suffering. Jesus would endure the pain of having His hands and feet nailed to the cross. He would be forsaken by his Father. Without this pain, agony, and death of Good Friday, there would be no victory of Easter.

Now God can have His way with us. Instead of treating us as our sins deserve, He offers us forgiveness. He can declare us to be good and right.

This is not our way. We don’t expect to be declared good and right by God because He has pardoned us from our sins.

That sounds too easy. Certainly there must be strings attached. We must have something to do with it. We must earn God’s favor. This is the way it is supposed to work. This is what makes sense to us.

The cross stands in our way. It shatters our pride and smashes our self-righteousness so that we forsake these old ways and thoughts. We learn our place. As a result, we are no longer putting our trust in ourselves and our goodness. If our goodness counted for anything, all that our Lord endured on the cross would be unnecessary.

This is why we let God have His ways, however mysterious and inscrutable they may be. We don’t try to manipulate Him so that He would submit to our ways. Our ways do not lead to salvation and eternal life. They only lead to our ruin. Therefore, instead of telling God how to go about His business, we simply place ourselves in His hands.

But placing ourselves in God’s hands does not come easy for us. We are confident in our own abilities and righteousness.

That is why God allows pain and suffering into your life. He wants to teach you to trust in Him. He wants you to seek Him and call upon Him. He wants you to forsake your old ways that lead to death.

He wants you to turn to Him so that He may have compassion on you and abundantly pardon you. That is His way for you.