God’s No-Win Dilemma

It’s the age-old question—“Why am I here?” Why did God make us?

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that we exist to bring glory to God. As I continued reading in Isaiah, I came across this pertinent verse:

… for the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel. Isaiah 44:23

This states it more clearly: He displays His glory in Israel—and in us. We don’t have to do it; He does it. Our role is to be willing vessels.

And that got me thinking—how does God go about displaying His glory in us? What does it look like from our perspective? I believe that God has two options here.

For one, He can make our lives wonderful. Our every need would be met, and many—most—of our desires. Life would be easy, full of joy. We’d be God’s spoiled children, and everyone who looks at us would be amazed at how good God is to us.

Or would they?

Wouldn’t we begin to believe it was our own cleverness that allowed us to live in luxury? We would boast in our own work, our own brains, and forget the Source of all we had.

I know that I spend much more time in prayer when things aren’t going well. I see my need, and turn to the only One who can meet that need. I become more thankful for what I have, being aware that it’s all a gift, and not something I deserve.

Others see this same problem. Proverbs 30: 8b-9 says:

Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

So perhaps giving us everything we want isn’t the best way for God to glorify Himself in us. That leads us to option two.

God makes our lives challenging. Not everything works out perfectly. We find ourselves in hot water, at the end of our ropes, up a stream without a paddle. (Ever wonder why there are so many metaphors on this topic?)

Consider the story of the Israelites. They faced famine. They moved to Egypt only to become slaves. On their escape, they were pursued by the fearsome Egyptian army. They wandered in the desert—a place with no food or water. There were giants living in the land that is to be theirs. Hostile tribes opposed them. And so on and so on.

Then there are the early Christians. They were persecuted by their fellow Jews. Some were martyred. They were poor, despised, and ridiculed. And to this day, nothing has changed in much of the world.

Even those of us living in safety and comfort face difficulties. We aren’t exempt, just because Jesus loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.

What do we do when faced with these sorts of trials? We can curse God and complain that it isn’t fair. Or we can allow Him to show His glory in us. Sometimes He restores us here on earth, and those witnessing the miracle praise God. Other times He restores in heaven, and those witnessing our faith praise God. Either way, He receives glory.

The next time it seems as though God doesn’t care for you, consider His dilemma. Abundant blessings keep us from relying on Him. Hardships can drive us away and brand Him as unloving.

But what if we embrace suffering, and allow it to bring us closer to the God who suffered for us? Remember— if we want to see miracles, we have to need one.

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