When finances fail, medical tests reveal, and close relationships fill with pain, it’s the question that hits the hardest, lingers the longest, and hurts the most: Why? God understands our persistent demands to understand, yet He sovereignly protects us from knowing all the secret things. Discover peace through the game changing verse—Deuteronomy 29:29—to keep this common question from pounding away at your faith, and experience growing trusting in the One who knows it all.Preview Game Changer 3
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18, esv).
They had a choice—and yet it wasn’t really a choice.
The decision had already been made.“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had already decided they would not deny the Lord, not for any reason, and they would deal with the fallout at whatever cost to themselves.” Click To Tweet
When the call came to “fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar has set up,” or else “whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:5–6), three Hebrew captives—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—did the only thing they could do. If denying God was their only other option, the answer was simple. They would not deny the Lord, not for any reason. They had already settled this matter in their minds, and they would deal with the fallout at whatever cost to themselves.
How would you like to live with that kind of confidence and certainty, where even if God didn’t come through with your desired deliverance, your conviction remained the same? “Be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods.” Period . . . because you never second-guess your faith in the Lord.
Talk to people who don’t go to church anymore or who quit following the Lord, and their stories are often the same. They expected something of God, something He could have done if He’d wanted—something He should have done, in their opinion—and He didn’t do it. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test,” Jesus said (Luke 4:12), yet they gave Him ultamatums anyway. God, if You don’t do this . . . God, if You won’t help me . . . God, if You’re even out there . . . The thinking is that if He wouldn’t hear and answer that kind of prayer, then none of it must be true.
But God is not in a position of needing to prove Himself to us. Even if He were, He would have already proven it through what He did for us at the cross. Jesus offered Himself freely there, solving our most unsolvable problem. Because of what God has done, we can now live with Him forever. What more do we really need Him to do?
Imagine the difference it would make. “Lord, we really want a child, and we’re asking You to help us conceive.” But you already know that even if He doesn’t, He is able to. Whatever God does next doesn’t turn the dial up or down on your faith, because you’ve already settled the fact that you’re not smarter than He is.
“Lord, I still dream about getting married someday.” “Lord, You know how much I need a job.” “Lord, we just want our child back, safe and sound—I can’t lose him, I can’t lose her.” But no matter how confident you feel that you and God would surely want the same thing, nothing is up for review. If you don’t think it makes sense, you still surrender to the fact that there’s something you must not be seeing. If it’s taking too long, you trust there has to be a reason.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, as the result of a choice they considered unavoidable, were about thirty seconds from going into the fire. And yet as bad as it looked for them, they were utterly convinced “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us”—one way or another. That’s a confidence you can live with, even die with, and never second-guess the choice you’ve made.
Lord, thank You for being worthy of all my trust. Thank You that no investment of faith in You can possibly fail. Forgive me for every time I’ve questioned my security in You or held myself back from full confidence in You. Lord, I believe—help my unbelief! I confess that You are good and utterly trustworthy, and You’ve proven it already and eternally, in the work and the name of Jesus, amen.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10, esv).
You’ll know you’ve repented when ______ .
How would you fill in the blank for that statement?
Throughout the Old Testament, the physical expression of repentance was sackcloth and ashes. People would convert a scratchy piece of burlap into some sort of garment, then they would smear ashes from the fire bed onto their head and face, in what could only be called a radical rejection of externals. They were essentially saying by their altered appearance, “See? I don’t care about looking the part anymore. I’m not posing as somebody different than who I really am. I only want to be right with God, and I don’t care what it takes or what it looks like.”“True repentance says, ‘I only want to be right with God. I don’t care what it takes or what it looks like.’” Click To Tweet
Sackcloth and ashes.
But the sorrowful impression made by this outward display of contrition is what true repentance actually feels like on the inside. It hurts internally. It’s a state of soul anguish. Repentance means experiencing deep grief for the choices you’ve made. The contrast between your own sins and God’s holiness makes you feel . . . like a worm.
But that’s okay—because sometimes we need to feel like a worm. In order to go higher, we must first get lower. That’s why, as you study the Scripture, you discover this pattern: those who made real contact with God, those who met Him in a genuine way, felt reduced to their actual size after coming face-to-face with Him.
When Abraham conversed with God about the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, he approached Him with the words, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). Job, too, with his complaints and self-pity silenced by God’s awesome recounting of His divine power, said he’d been wrong to accuse Him of being unfair in His dealings. “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
Isaiah was equally struck by his own unworthiness after seeing God enthroned—“Woe is me . . . I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). As was Peter, cowering before the omnipotence of Jesus—“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). John, too, surprised by his vision of the glorified Christ—“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).
Yes, it’s possible to feel only “worldly grief,” even when see your sinful self against the standard of God’s holiness. That feeling of being sorry you got caught. Or sorry you’re experiencing the pain of consequences; sorry you don’t look good in this unflattering light. But true repentance is realizing that your sin is first and foremost a rejection of God. You’ve communicated by your unholy actions that His ways are not the best, that His commands are not good. And having spit in the face of mercy, you now feel wounded in spirit. How could I have said that? How could I have done that? As Joseph said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
You’ll know you’ve repented when your heart feels like that.
Father, I desire a deeper grief over the sins I’ve committed against You. I want to feel tangible sorrow for it, as deeply as if I were seeing my sin the way You see it, in its true, dark colors. Most of all, help me not turn back to it—to not be foolish enough to think that any sin is able to take me anywhere else but into regret and discouragement. I look to You, Lord God, the One who graciously leads me from grief to joy, from mourning to dancing, in Jesus’ name, amen.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29, esv).
As you make your way through life, how often do you have questions you’d like to ask of God?
And how many of those questions start with, “Why?”“We don’t have to know every ‘Why’ when we know the ‘Who’ that knows them all.” Click To Tweet
We struggle with the concept of God having “secret things.” He shouldn’t keep secrets from us, right?—not from those of us who’ve been born again into His family through faith in Jesus. We’re important to Him, aren’t we? We contribute to His kingdom, don’t we? As people who play at least a small part in what He’s doing today on the earth, we can be inclined to think He owes us some answers when we ask. And why not? Why wouldn’t He?
Asking why and not being given an answer settles with finality our minuscule role in His infinite plan, and we have a hard time living within the implications of that reality. It doesn’t square with what we know of His love for us and what we expect of our relationship. When God doesn’t answer our “whys,” it makes us feel small, and we don’t like feeling small.
But isn’t it just like sinful, selfish people to focus on what God has chosen not to tell us instead of being satisfied with everything He’s told us already—“the things that are revealed,” the things that do “belong to us”—because, taken together, the Bible says they add up to “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Everything that matters we already know—how we got here, where we’re going, how it ends, who wins. God is not up in heaven debating with Himself whether He probably should have told us a little bit more. In no way has He shorted us on any vital information.
In fact, He’s gone beyond it. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). He’s promised to give us wisdom when we seek Him in the midst of our trials. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding” (Proverbs 3:13). He’s created us with the capacity for being taught by Him and learning through our own life experience. “Reprove a wise man, and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8). Even the knowledge gained through other people’s challenging of us is a gift from God to our easily confused hearts.
We don’t have to know every Why when we know the Who that knows them all. We can make enough sense of seemingly senseless situations by simply bringing eternity into the equation, resting in His sovereignty, and acknowledging His goodness in choosing what we can’t know—because He’s God and we’re not.
“Why?” isn’t really the right question to be asking. The better question is what we’re doing with what He has chosen to show us, because “the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Not every why receives an answer. That’s true. But in savoring what has been revealed (which is more than we realize), you and I have the opportunity to experience God’s Word as His provision for our joy and fulfillment—and the only answer we truly need for all our questions.
Lord God, Your knowledge of all things is a blessing to me. Your understanding behind every “why” is the only sense I need to make of it. Help me rest there, in that place of childlike trust and confidence. As I wait on You, may the space You create in my heart for deeper faith in You make room for new freedom to walk fearlessly in Your will. I wonder only at why You would choose one like me to be Your child, and I praise You for it today with gratitude, in Jesus’ name, amen.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, esv).
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). “All Scripture.” All of it. None of it is filler. To repeat God’s own choice of words, all of it is “profitable.” But we can also say this: not all of it is equally profitable. Some parts, some verses, more specifically than others, are game-changers.
Genesis 50, verse 20, for example.
“As for you, you meant evil against me.” This is Old Testament Joseph, reminding his brothers what they all knew. Their treatment of him had been abusive—their jealousy, their plotting, their berating of him as worthless, their kidnap and sale of him to passing slave traders. It was worse than bad—it was evil. “But God meant it for good.” They’d intended to do him harm, and yet Joseph had never really been under their power. He’d been under the power of Almighty God, all the while, who was causing all things to “work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).“No child of God is ever really a victim. God is always bigger, always greater, and His plans cannot be thwarted by others’ bad behavior.” Click To Tweet
Joseph was not their victim. No child of God is ever really a victim. God is always bigger, always greater, and His plans cannot be thwarted by others’ bad behavior.
But how do you get to a place where you can say and believe what Joseph said and believed? “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” How do you ever truly live inside the knowledge that God has everything under His power, including not only you but also the person or people against you?
The answer: Start now.
Genesis 50:20 didn’t happen overnight. It was twenty-five years in the making—years that included unjust slavery and jail time, rejection and neglect. But before the famine even arrived that would compel his brothers to come seeking relief in Egypt, Joseph had already named his firstborn son Manasseh, a name whose meaning implies forgetfulness, for he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house” (Genesis 41:51).
Remember, too, when Joseph’s brothers later showed up, how they didn’t even recognize him—this kid brother of theirs who now ruled a world power, second only to Pharaoh. Remember how, when Joseph finally couldn’t keep his secret any longer, he became so overwhelmed with emotion that he excused himself to another room and wept loudly enough that people outside could hear him. “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here,” he told them, “for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth . . . It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5, 7–8).
He wasn’t yet saying it as perfectly as he would say it later in Genesis 50:20, but the heart behind it was already there and growing. Joseph had chosen early in his journey not to live in bitterness, not to get stuck in their abuse, trapped by animosity, even for a little while. And if you’ll start at that same game-changing point today, you’ll get to your Genesis 50:20 moment. Probably much sooner than you ever thought possible.
Lord, thank You for revealing in Your Word a more accurate paradigm for life than my mind would naturally assume. Thank You for the gift of Scripture, which records all the truth I need for understanding Your purposes. Thank You mostly that no matter what comes my way, I can know You’ve declared already You’ve “meant it for good.” Help me believe this promise at new depths, starting today, as I trust in the triumphant name of Jesus, amen.