Our experiences and the revelation of who God is

Is God really good to us all the time?

It has been some time since I last posted.  It is not because I have given up the cause of defending The Gospel According to the Gospel, rather it is because life has been very difficult and I have been working very hard trying to make a change.

I would like to use the subject of the difficulties we have endured as a family as the springboard to understand God in relationship to hard times.  Many families have endured a lot of hardship as people have lost jobs, lost homes, seen 25% of their business income disappear and face bankruptcy.  Our story is no different.

A couple of years ago I was making a great deal of money.  My personal equity had grown from $30,000 to $800,000 in three years.  According to men I was doing everything right and making smart decisions.  According to my personal experiences God was good to me and I could trust Him.  My experiences fit very well with the prosperity gospel, even though I would tell everyone that I did not believe in the blab it and grab it teaching.

In a matter of a couple years the Lord was pleased to take everything from me.  It is hard to believe, but all my investments went sour and I lost my income.  I lost a home that was valued at $750,000 at the top of the market.  We went from living high on the hog to abject poverty, living in the most humble of circumstances, off grid and in a box 8 feet wide by 20 feet long.  We called it extended camping.  With no windows we crammed six people in this box and tried to live.

This extreme change did not come as a surprise to me.  I had seen this train wreck coming for a long time and there was nothing I could do to get off the tracks.  As this train wreck unfolded, I wrestled with God’s goodness and His intention towards me.  If He really loved me, why did He not answer my prayers and save us from the devastation we faced.  My emotions grew into despair with the thought of suicide wrestling within me.  Where was God in all of this?

I judge God according to my experiences, and my experiences told me that God had not been good to me.  If He was good to me He would intervene and save me.  Since He was not treating me very well, how could I say I trusted Him?  Actually, I believed that He purposed Himself against me.  It was if God was against every decision I had made and worked against me to my ruin.  I still believe He did this but not to ruin, but rather He did it to me out of love.

As I said before, I would say that I did not believe in the prosperity gospel but I certainly held God accountable to it.  I expected Him to prosper me because I was His.  When He did not, I felt like He would not hear me and could not be trusted.  To make a long story short, the Lord in His kindness purged out of me this heresy doctrine.

Experiencing the lost we did was very painful and full of tears.  Living in our new situation for the last year and a half has taught me to be quite and not full of rage at God when things do not go my way.  Instead I have learned to be much quieter and wait to see what God will do.  In all of this I had learned a very important thing about walking with the Living God.  Let’s explore this lesson by talking about a man from scripture.

There is a man in scripture who had very rotten things happen to him again and again, yet scripture says that God was with him and gave him favor.  In our eyes, this man’s experiences are not what God has planned for us.  Yet this man suffered betrayal and was falsely accused and imprisoned.

Many people have said, “I know God and what you are going through is not God”.  People knowing God by their experiences would look at us with oddity and bewilderment as we unraveled.  Their experiences told them that God has intentions to do good and not to harm us and what we were going through was not from God.

Joseph had suffered greatly at the hands of his brothers.  As a slave he was falsely accused of rape.  To a modern Joseph we would say “I know God and what you are going through is not God”.  Yet scripture says that Joseph recognized that God had sent him to Egypt ahead of everything to preserve his family.  Joseph recognized this because he saw the hand of God in it all when his brothers had bowed down before him in fear. 

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.[1]

I marvel at Joseph when he was a slave, for he did not rant and rave at God as I had done.  Scripture says that God was with Him.  In the past I would have concluded, if that is how God is with His people who are faithful, no thanks!  Why would I have said this?  Because I was judging God by the heresy of the prosperity gospel.

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.[2]

As a slave accused of rape and living in a dungeon scripture says that the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy.  Mercy!  Certainly that is not the kind of mercy I would expect from God.  How is it that Joseph kept his faith and did not waiver in his circumstances?

But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.[3]

I had struck out at God and accused Him of not showing love or favor.  I despised His hand on me for His hand was not kindness to me.  At least that was what I concluded back then.  But I have learned several things since I experienced the slow train wreck.  The most important thing is this:  Don’t let you experiences dictate your revelation of who God is.  Let scripture be the revelation of who He is.  If our experiences are the standard of who God is, if they are the measuring line of His goodness to us, we are in trouble indeed.  God’s goodness does not change based upon our experiences or the harshness or ease of life.  He is steadfast just as His eternal word.  We need to trust God like Joseph did and not let what happens to us be the interpretation of whether or not God is good or bring into doubt if He can be trusted.

Another thing I have come to understand in all of this, all of our sorrow and disappointment has been the kindness of the Lord to me.  I have been purged of the false gospel and have learned to be content in all things.  Not perfect in it yet, but learning to live in that place with the Lord.  As a family we have come through so far and have not been destroyed.  I have had a chance to demonstrate to my family that God is good not because life is lived in ease but because of the revelation of who He is in scripture. 

Through these ongoing experiences I live day to day and do not rail against God, I have to simply trust Him.  I do not know what will eventually come of us, but I hope that as other believers face hardship, they will not let their experiences be their revelation of who God is or His goodness.  Instead let scripture and its message of love be your revelation of who He is, no matter what you may be going through.

As I write this, everything that I have been working on (keeping me from this blog) to improve our situation seems to be coming undone.  Evidently I still get the chance to practice my faith in my revelation of who He is through scripture and not the revelation of who He is through my experiences.

[1] Genesis 45:5

[2] Genesis 39:2

[3] Genesis 39:21

9 thoughts on “Our experiences and the revelation of who God is

  1. Let me emphatically say…this is the most precious…contrite…REAL testimony to the Grace and Goodness of God that I’ve seen in a long time. God has allowed you to struggle so you can know your own heart…a heart that believes and trusts God. God already knows your heart. He asked Abraham to slay Isaac so Abraham would be aware of the depths of his trust in God (in Isaac shall thy seed be call..so if he is slain..God will raise him up). WOW! God already knew the depths of Abraham’s faithfulness. He was merely revealing its presence to Abraham. Lot said, ‘I will trust him though he slay me.’ Before Lot’s excruciating loss… He had no opportunity to know the depths of his trustfaith in God…not until he had opportunity to apply such immense TRUST. Not until he was given opportunity to confront what was in his heart ….important things…things not connected with wood, stubble, and hay…nor even family. Things having to do with a man and his God. WOW! I am deeply grieved and touched and what you and your sweet family are experiencing…..but not sorry. God rules in all things…and in His wisdom He is permitting ‘tribulation which worketh patience.’ He is growing you through trials…allowing you to flex spiritual muscles which are only needed during ‘heavy’ times. I’m seeing like situations each day. Personally, we are in the process of major downsizing. What we have been blessed with….has meant nothing to me. I enjoyed it…used it…but always saw it as wood, stubble, and hay…as temporal…here one minute…but gone the next with one tornado…one shake of the earth..one match. Anything of wood, stubble, and hay is not necessary to the kingdom of God. When we come to the place of going to Him for provision….for needs…not for wants…he will do as He promises…’Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteosness…and all these things shall be added unto you.’ Much of what we have and enjoy is what we have heaped to ourselves…through greed…through our own intent and choices….but we call it ‘blessing.’ Were we ‘transformed into His image’…I don’t see how we can live with such abundance when others have so little. The more I turn loose of temporal things….the more I desire to serve others…the more I want to share what I have with others…the more the abundance feels like a weight rather than a ‘blessing.’ God is bringing us into times which will see much change….much insecurity….much fear. But those who are His…He is preparing their hearts to Trust….preparing their hearts for ‘peace’ in the midst of trouble. You my friend…are in the most awesome place a man can be…heart humbled…looking to God…with your answer only ‘yea’ and ‘nea.’ Too, you are among the ‘real’ ones who are becoming ‘outcast’ because your heart ‘hears’ the Truth by way of the Holy Spirit…and you can no longer play the church games you once played. Praise the Lord. Sorry to be so wordy. But my heart absolutely LEAPED when I read your post. If God were not bothering with ya….now that would be a real problem. Count it all joy!

    • Thank you for your kind words. It seems since I decided to make this post, I am finding myself with no answers again and having to look to the Lord. My friend says it is not God’s chastisement he fears, but His absence. I agree with him. I think the Lord is teaching me about true charity in all this.

  2. Amen!
    Blessings in the Lord Jesus Christ, to you and yours as you walk through this valley season. He is ever faithful, always, and especially when it seems like it least.

  3. Hi Dave,
    I know it has been a while but your post has been very moving. Sometimes it is interesting how we perceive people at the other end of the web not knowing what they are going through or have been through.

    But thank God for your testimony. It is funny you mentioned the prosperity gospel and how people think that God exist to make them prosperous. The truth as Paul says is that through much tribulation must we enter the kingdom of God. We should also bear in mind that everything works together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. One of those “good” is in the fact that trials and tribulations are necessary for the perfecting of our faith, like gold tried in the fire. For without faith it is impossible to please God. So do not despair my friend, keep the faith and trust in God that He is able to take you through the storm. I will send you a private email.
    God Bless.

    • I do believe it is true that we do not see the “good” that God does in the perfecting of the saints. But it is true, gold is only useful it it can be taken out of the rock and purified. I think I am not the only one who has this opportunity with the Lord. Many are in my boat or soon will be as we continue to see the deteriation of what can be shaken, being shaken. Thanks for you comments.

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