I remember one night during my freshman year of college and I was confronted very closely with the sin in my life. It sucked. I was angry and frustrated.
I went to the school’s racquetball courts by myself and began to “practice.” It was really just me pounding the ball as hard as I could against the front wall. In my mind, I was screaming at God. Why? I asked. Why must I deal with this sin in my life? Why can’t I be perfect? Why must I deal with this? Why can’t I just get over this crap? I cursed at God. I did. I was ticked.
I look back on that night as one of the many in college when I was frustrated with God and His ways. College was a rough period for me spiritually. I dealt with a lot of doubt, a lot of fear and a lot of sin. Good gracious. I was a Christian the whole time, but I was overwhelmed spiritually in a lot of ways.
I was flipping through my Bible this morning and found Romans 11:33 underlined. Verse 33, along with 34 and 35:
Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’
In my journaling Bible, I have a note beside that set of verses: “How could I question God’s plan for my life or others’ lives? God doesn’t let anything happen to me that wasn’t part of the plan. Nothing surprises Him. I can question God, but I’m not near as smart as Him.”
I think it’s natural for humans to question God, natural for man to ask God why in the world certain things happen the way they do. It’s the cry of the non-believer in the face of a tragedy, the cry of a mother when her child dies prematurely, the cry of a wife when her husband is sent to jail for a long time. Why would God let this happen to me?
I ask God that about my sin. “God, why would you allow me to sin? Why would you allow sin in the world?” If you believe that God is in full control of the world, is all-powerful, I think you can’t escape the idea that God allowed sin to be a part of the world. He didn’t have to create a snake. I think God planned everything out from the beginning of the world, including the fall of man. Again, nothing takes Him by surprise.
I come back to these verses in Romans 11 praising the “judgements” and “ways” and “wisdom” of God. And I ask myself, “How in the world is it wise in God’s eyes to allow sin?” Wrong phrasing. It’s not “in the world” that it’s wise in God’s eyes. God’s ways are so unsearchable and unknowable that we have no business trying to understand it all the way. I think we can grow in that understanding as we mature in our faith, but there’s a sense where we won’t get it all.
So how do I deal with the fact that God allows me to sin? If I believe that all things work together for good, even my sin, I’ve got to accept that even the crappiest thing – my sin – is part of God’s plan for my life. I believe it’s ultimately to bring me back to understanding something.
He is the only way I will ever overcome sin or the grips of sin. I will not defeat sin on earth without God doing an incredible work in my life. It’s a miracle every time we defeat sin because we’re overcoming our natural inclinations. It’s also a miracle that we get to escape the eternal grip of sin on our lives and be held by a God who forgives us of that sin.
I think He allowed sin to be in my life to show me I’m insufficient. Since the fall, He’s allowed my sin to be in my life to kill the need for the self-sufficiency I struggle with on a daily basis and just trust Him, trust His Word and trust His plan.
His plan is perfect. There is nothing wrong with the plan God has put in place for us. Nothing happens outside His approval.
So next time I question God (which will probably be in the next hour or so), I need to come back to this point, the point that says His ways can’t be understood. But I know that they can be trusted fully, trusted without a doubt. That doesn’t mean the doubts won’t come, it just means I have an answer for them when they do.
He knows what He’s doing.