Where is God's glory in watching loved ones wander through life without Christ even by their own choosing despite your prayers, efforts, and hopes? Where is God's glory in pain, suffering, and loss? Where is God's glory when you feel like giving up? Where is His glory when the weight of such things causes us to ask questions like this?
I wonder, when we ask such things do we really want to hear the actual answers? The answers are usually truths that we are not in the mood to accept. And isn't it so very difficult to step out of our own shoes to see the big picture? That's when the fellowship of others can be such a blessing.
Have you ever listened to someone who is struggling and admired the person for being so open about his/her situation and not only that but also realized how some of the things you are going through are the same struggles this person is articulating so well, so honestly and truthfully--in ways you had not been able to clearly process on your own or maybe you actually wanted to avoid? Have you wanted to offer encouragement but didn't know what to say? Efforts to come up with something inspiring produce nothing, and then later when you eventually hit your knees in a quiet place & stop trying so hard on your own the Holy Spirit begins to work to reveal some things--maybe about what each of you are facing? And then you recall things like, "Be still and know that I am God..." and "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." In that moment you realize how rewarding and exciting it can be to be faithful and how loving our Lord is in His faithfulness.
Some might be thinking that that is all well and good, but what about the questions we asked in the beginning? Where is God's glory in seemingly less than glorious situations? Sometimes it can help to ask questions from a different angle to help shed light on things, so let's see what we can come up with along those lines.
Is God ever not glorious? Can He be cheated out of His glory? Does the glory of God depend on us? To be clear God will have His glory with and without us. There is no way to rob the Creator of the Universe of His glory. Some things are inescapable--death, taxes, and to a greater extent--the glory of God. Period. When we really stop to think this through it seems pretty clear, right? But consider our options at this point as to how we respond when we are faced with circumstances we can't control and explain.
Incidentally that is glorifying to God in itself. In other words our creator created us in His image. We have brains that He created within us, despite evidence to the contrary that I've observed about myself from time to time, that enable us to think and process information. This is by design. If we use them as He designed then that's glorifying to God is it not?
But let's get back to our options. What do we do when we are frustrated and confused? One option would be to give up, turn our backs to God and walk away. It doesn't seem like a sensible response when it's put that way, but that is an option. Consider the end of chapter 6 in the book of John. Jesus had just finished telling people, at a synagogue in Capernaum, that they would have to drink His blood and eat His flesh. Think about it. If you were a Jew in that place at that time what would be going through your noodle? "Wait a second. Did He just say what I think He said? Ahh, man. Not again. This guy seems so different. He's so real, but He's talking about cannibalism here. I can't do that. What am I missing? He might be a lunatic. Maybe my cousin was right. Maybe He is just another loon. Should I just walk away?" That's actually what most of them did. They walked away. What did the Twelve do when He asked if they wanted to leave too? Answer:
Wow! Not bad for a fisherman. And therein lies our other option. Keep fighting! Keep running the race and clinging to Hope despite all the fleshly reasons not to. When we hold fast and walk in faith without sight despite our pain and confusion is that glorious? How does that look to an onlooking world? Does that inspire other believers and confound unbelievers by pointing both to the Savior? Where is the glory in that?
Part of me wants to cheer on the latter (and for good reason), but honestly I think the answer here is, yes--as in you and I do not have the capacity to lessen the glory of God. God will have His glory either way. God was, is, and will be glorious. He will have His glory, and if not from us "the very stones would cry out."
We can't take it away from Him even if we tried. Oh, but Father, please be glorified in us and through us and not apart from us. We believe, help our unbelief. By your grace in the moments where we are blind bless us as "those who have not seen and yet have believed."
God is just. He has a perfect, righteous standard. Any who repent & accept the Gospel are saved. That is glorifying to God. Any who reject the Gospel are punished for violating the perfect, righteous standard. That is glorifying to God as His standard is not compromised. His justice is maintained.
There is glory in standing against the tempest in faith with feet planted firmly on the Rock of our salvation.
To God be the glory. Amen!