I don't know about you, but sometimes I have moments that cause me to say something along the lines of "Seriously, God?"
When some things (or everything) simply doesn't make sense in my life, I quickly discover a bit of entitlement I hold in my heart - that God owes me a life that makes sense, or at least an explanation when it doesn't.
I know this is completely contrary to many scriptural examples.
Job had no clue why he was suffering in the moment.
Joseph spent 13 YEARS in slavery and prison without apparently knowing the full picture.
Esther was deeply scared of approaching the King to save the Jewish people.
Sometimes I feel that I worship the God of Unreasonable Expectations.
Today, I came across another story in the First Testament which is super easy to miss when you're breezing through. It's in Isaiah 20:1-3.
For your convenience:
In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot.
Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has been walking around naked and barefoot for the last three years. This is a sign—a symbol of the terrible troubles I will bring upon Egypt and Ethiopia
Did you catch that? God tells Isaiah to walk around naked. That's a whole crazy story in itself. But the very next verse is God saying, "Isaiah has been naked for three years, and here's what that means..."
No, "Look at how faithful Isaiah is!" No stories about how brave Isaiah was. Nothing about how crazy it must have been to obey God in this moment. No stories - you know there had to be stories.
Just a three year visual object lesson with a simple explanation. At that point, if I'm Isaiah, I'm like, God you couldn't have done this ANY other way? Or don't I at least get heaven's equivalent of the Medal of Honor?
Nope. Three years of the live version of sharing inadvisable pics on snapchat and God barely acknowledges it.
I guess there's a whole "building faith" component in stuff like this, but honestly I don't have a clue why God does what God does in the way God does.
I wish this could boil down to a formula on how to get through the rough patches in life, but it I really can't. I've had a pretty crappy summer and God isn't giving me any idea of why or how much longer I've got to deal with it.
I wonder if Isaiah initially expected the streaking commandment would last for a day or two, then struggled with the "Why" of it all for years?
So while I can't give you a formula to get out of the crap storms in life, though I have tried to address ways to have faith in those moments, the honest advice is this: sometimes you're just gonna have to deal with stuff you don't understand and just plain isn't fun and sure doesn't seem worth it in the moment.
As a very self absorbed person, I can either lean into these moments and learn faith, trust and humility, or I can rage against God and the world and grow bitter and angry.
Doing the former does not automatically unlock guarantees of a life with more money and prestige, but it really does unlock a life with more joy and peace in it - and those are the elements which Jesus intends to use in order to give us a fuller, healthier life (John 10:10).
I bet Isaiah, in a few instances thought or said, "Seriously, God?"
Same for Joseph, Esther and Job. I know for a fact David said this, because it's all throughout the Psalms.
So while I can't solve it, I can encourage us that we're in good company. God never calls us to understand him. He does tell us to have faith and not to give up, and sometimes, that's all I've got to give.