“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.
“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.
“There was only one Lion,” said the Voice.
“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and–”
“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”
“How do you know?”
“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”
“It was I.”
“But what for?”
“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”
[C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy]
A friend and I talked this weekend about believing both the sovereignty of God and the goodness of God. She is in the midst of wrestling through life when it feels like things are crashing down, and I have been there, too. Times when you can’t see through the fog and you feel yourself falling with no rope to trust in catching you before you hit the ground. And while we often want a physical solution to our fall – we want that rope – God doesn’t always give the rope right away. Sometimes He simply wants your trust in the midst of your descent. He wants to get at your heart before He takes care of the visible problem, because the heart can be the bigger issue we are blinded to.
When you are falling, you have to believe that God is both sovereign and good – He is in control and is acting out of His love for You. I fully believe that God is in control, but I often struggle to believe that He is loving me through the trial. Instead, I feel like He is ignoring my prayers, or He doesn’t care about how I feel, or maybe that things will turn out okay in the end but not that they will turn out the best. That it won’t turn out in a way that will make me happy, simply that I will survive.
Yet God’s love and His power cannot be separated. They go hand-in-hand, and when we look at our trials with this perspective, things change.
Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:17 ESV)
What a beautiful juxtaposition. For my good I walked through bitterness. It was in love.
A Horse and His Boy is my favorite book in CS Lewis’s famous Chronicles of Narnia. Shasta feels that he is the most unfortunate boy in the world. He finds out that the man he has been calling Father, the man he works almost as a slave for, is not really his father. He and a talking horse (who was captured from Narnia years before and has pretended to be dumb like other plain horses) decide to escape together, and at the beginning of their journey, they find themselves chased by lions, forcing them to join company with another rider who is also escaping to Narnia with her talking horse. Shasta gets mixed up in the big city with Narnian royalty and is separated from his group, finds himself alone among tombs while he waits for them, and then finds himself and his friends racing to the King of Archenland to let them know of a traitorous plan from the city to attack Archenland. During his race to beat the army to the king, a lion once again chases his group and wounds Aravis, the other rider, and he must run ahead, alone, to warn the king.
But we all know Who the Lion is.
The Lion’s purpose is not known by the children and their horses. They do not even know the name Aslan. Yet He has been present, guiding them on their journey, even having a purpose in wounding Aravis. Shasta believes he is the most unfortunate boy in the world, yet the Lion reveals that it was all done in love, to protect and care for and guide him to his prophesied destiny – saving Archenland.
What Shasta thought was for his bitterness was for his welfare.
What we think is for our bitterness just might be for our welfare.
When we see a trial, we must look through the lens of God’s love to see something more. We can’t always see the “why,” but we can look for the Who.
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. (Job 23:8-10)
He works for our good, for His glory, in all things. So when you are falling, or all you see is fog around you, speak truth to yourself to remind you of Who is in control and how He can take care of you. His purposes are bigger than us, and His plans are beyond our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yet while He is sovereignly working throughout the universe, He is present to love us and care for us as we walk through what we don’t understand. He knows our frame – He remembers that we are dust (Ps. 103:14), and His loving care is as a Father cares for a child, who doesn’t understand yet finds security in his father’s arms.
Look for Him in the midst of what you are walking through. Rest in his arms. Trust His love in your bitterness.
The God Who controls the universe is the same God Who came as Emmanuel – God with us – to be our Savior and Redeemer. And He loved you enough to not only wrap Himself in skin and become a baby, but he loved you enough to die in your place.