Creation Groans (May-Jun 2003)

By Matt Dabbs

By Peggy Park

“When you hear of wars and rumors of war do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains” (Mark 13:7-8, NIV).

God’s Heart Towards Mankind
Where is God in all of the events of mankind that bring us so much grief and pain? For example: was the recent war with Iraq within his will? Any serious discussion of God’s will has to consider his heart toward mankind at creation. God looked down over the centuries and was aware of the entire panorama of man exercising his free will.

The Garden of Eden reflects God’s perfect will for man. Provision was made for Adam and Eve to thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually in a lush, perfect environment. Adam was created with a free will. God did not create a puppet who would have no choice. He desired for Adam to choose to love Him. We can relate to that. How many of us value love we have to demand? The love that is meaningful is the one freely given.

The garden account leaves us face to face with Adam and Eve’s choice to choose self-exaltation and gratification over God’s perfect will. They switched their headship from God to Satan. Down through the ages mankind continues to suffer the results of their choice. Sin entered paradise! God’s perfect will for Adam and Eve was thwarted through their choice!

Separation from God and Restoration
Throughout the Old Testament we read accounts of God’s people sinning and God’s mercy, long-suffering and patience towards them. We also read of God’s wrath, as his righteous nature requires a covering for sin. His justice requires a repentant heart. Out of his great heart of mercy and love came the old, old story which we, as believers, remember well. “Love in that story so tender, clearer than ever I see, Stay, let me weep while you whisper, Love paid the ransom for me” [Great Hymns of The Church, “Tell Me The Story of Jesus,” Standard Publishing: Cincinnati, Ohio].

The blood required for the covenant between man and God was provided at the cross by Jesus, the Son of God. Following this, man could be restored back to a close union with God. The greatest example of the defeat of the evil deeds of mankind was shouted out on resurrection morning with the words, “He is not here!” The scene was one of despair and devastation as Jesus hung on the cross. It certainly looked like defeat and that evil had triumphed over good. On the third day the darkness was rolled back. Jesus’ followers rejoiced! He opened the way of salvation for all who would come in.

Three Ways to View God’s Will
Leslie Weatherhead’s classic, The Will of God, brings clarity to the term “will of God” by breaking the term down under three headings.

1.God’s intentional will for mankind was the sweet fellowship with Him and the enjoyment of his perfect provision for Adam in the Garden of Eden. God created man with the privilege of choice. Much of mankind has been spinning out of control exercising this choice.

2.Mankind’s choices create circumstances that are in opposition to God’s intent for him. This reflects God’s circumstantial will. The choices man makes create circumstances which interrupt God’s intentional will at the moment. Evil Abounds! Mankind is destroying itself by the choices it is making. Where is God in all of this? The same place He has always been – in his habitation with a heart that longs for his creation to turn from evil and embrace holy, righteous standards.

3.Romans 5:20b describes the ultimate will of God, which is man’s redemption: “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” No evil is finally able to defeat God. His ultimate will may be delayed but it will come to pass. I find it helpful to think of his will as if I were embarking on a journey. The perfect route is laid out before me but I may come to a detour in the road requiring a different path. I still reach my ultimate destination. (I am not talking about a different route to God, we know there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus.)

Cry of the Righteous
God’s heart is moved by the plea of righteous people. The clearest example of this in scripture is the story of Lot recorded in Genesis 19. Daniel in the lion’s den is a marvelous story of God’s deliverance. Scripture assures us “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12, NIV).

Faith Verus Doubt (Fear)
Studying the miraculous deliverances of God’s people all through scripture is a tremendous faith builder, which will help us to stand in the perilous times we face. “The greatest enemy of faith, the most subtle and the most devastating, is the lack of knowledge of the word of God” [Charles, Capp, Can Your Faith Fail (Harrison House: Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1978), 6].

Fear is the opposite of faith. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, NIV). When fear comes in faith goes out the door. Saturate yourself with the word. Look to Jesus! We live in a sinful, corrupt, evil world where there is much pain and suffering. For those of us who know Him, our call is not to overwhelm ourselves with the pain and suffering. We read, watch, or listen to enough of the news to identify the challenges and then start crying out in prayer over the situations. We use our spiritual armor. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

My Own Crisis of Faith
One of my own crises of faith came as I interceded intensively for months in two different situations separated by a number of years. Two Christian people who were very close to me were heading into ungodly decisions that would take them out of God’s will for their lives. Scripture was clear on both. I pleaded with the Lord to stop them from their decisions and subsequent actions on the basis that they were believers. God did not appear to be moving on my prayer.

In the agony of questioning I came to understand there is a point where a person’s free will becomes the master. God will draw and direct his children but they have the choice to listen and obey or to follow the futility of their own thinking.

My nursing job with cancer patients over a period of nine years provided many situations where I saw people in unbelievable suffering. This offered an opportunity for my faith to be challenged. Some accepted Jesus as their Savior and received peace before they died. Others silently rallied at God. Some tried to claim healing but it did not manifest. I can’t leave this subject without testifying that I have been a witness to supernatural healing and I have seem the grace of God operate in powerful tangible ways bringing great comfort and peace to patients and/or family members.

The following three power points are for encouraging you to apply three “Ps” of Presence, Prayer, and Promise.

Power Points

1. Purifying Presence

Stay close to the power source. Draw on his peace. Enjoy sweet communion with Him. Practice being in his presence for a love exchange. Nurture the life of the spirit within so the inner man is built up, strong in faith and ready to minister wherever the Lord puts you. “Grant that we may be so continually refreshed by our companionship with you we may not be crushed by the world’s burdens” [Weatherhead, Leslie D. The Will of God (Abingdon Press: Nashville), 52] Weatherhead goes on to call on Jesus as the bearer of men’s burdens, that he alone can carry the problems of the world. We are to bring those whose hearts are sad to the Lord. Follow God’s will as best you can discern it, do whatever he lays on your heart to do, and then roll the burdens over on Him. This is a time for purifying through confession of sins so that you have a clear channel for the next step.

2. Prayer

After sitting in the presence of Jesus, praising Him, and soaking up his presence and peace then we are ready to go into intercession. The Lord’s prayer is our example. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4). Praying scriptures over situations and people is always a wise approach to prayer. God loves for his children to pray back what He has declared. A clear pattern for addressing Satan was laid down by Jesus in his wilderness encounter when he said, “It is written….” Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22, NIV). The New King James Version uses the word “burdens.”

There was once a Chinese non-believer in Christ who had tremendous faith in a God she had never met. She asked a missionary to pray that she be given ice, as she was ill with a high fever. To their amazement, as the missionaries gathered and prayed, a storm came up and great pellets of hail came down. The woman had the ice she needed as a comfort measure in her feverish state. Many in the village were converted as a result of this demonstration of the power of God.

3. Promises

Keep in the word. God’s promises are of no avail except as they are applied and appropriated by faith. Search out scriptures that apply to the situation. Dare to believe his word, declare and stand on it.

Good Out of Evil
The story of Joseph in Genesis is a Biblical example of God bringing good out of evil. Todd Beamer’s story is a modern example of the principle that what Satan means for evil God may use for good. Beamer, the now famous passenger on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was the man who led in the Lord’s Prayer and recited the 23rd Psalm. He then spoke the challenging words, “Let’s roll” as a signal for himself and others to confront the enemy. His brave story of courage has been an inspiration to many as it has been told and retold. God has certainly brought a testimony out of the situation. Good has triumphed over evil in this account. Todd is in heaven with the savior he loved so much. His wife, Lisa is living out a life of trust and is witnessing to the sustaining power of the God she serves. “I could drive myself crazy with all the ‘if onlys’ and the ‘what if’ questions,” Lisa said. I must rest in the knowledge that, for some reason, God allowed these things to happen” [Lisa Beamer and Ken Abraham, Let’s Roll (Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Illinois 2002), 308]. The Lord is also being exalted as our president and his wife testify to the strengthening, sustaining power of the prayers being offered for them by believers all over the United States.

Resting in God’s Timing
No man knows exactly where we are in God’s eternal timetable. We read in Revelation of the events that will occur before the end will come. There are mysteries we will not understand until we stand in the presence of Jesus in eternity. When we have done all we know and are led to do, then we rest in the scripture: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, NIV).

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1583 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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