I have spent a lot of time thinking about some of the paradoxes of our faith. A paradox is a statement that seems contradictory or absurd but is actually valid or true. With my scientific mind, I have tried to make sense of things that may be beyond my full understanding this side of heaven.
- The God of Peace is also the One who makes the stormy seas .
- In dying to myself, I may find true life. When I am willing to sacrifice my own personal agenda and give of myself to others, I experience life more fully.
- “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
- “And He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness… For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9,10).
- We live in the “already” and the “not yet” of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. “The kingdom of God is both a future reality to be hoped for and a present reality to experience now… Many of its blessings are here to be enjoyed now; but many of them are not yet here. Some of its power is available now but not all of it. Some of the curse and misery of this old age can be overcome now by the presence of the kingdom. But some of it cannot be. The decisive battle against sin and Satan and sickness and death has been fought and won by the King in his death and resurrection, but the war is not over. Sin must be fought, Satan must be resisted, sickness must be prayed over and groaned under (Romans 8:23), and death must be endured until the second coming of the King and the consummation of the kingdom.” John Piper
I used to think it showed a lack of faith to wrestle with doubt and raise questions about these things. Now I realize that faith is like a muscle. We must exercise it, stretch it, build it up, and work it over in order to strengthen and increase it. God wants us to engage in a holy dialogue with each other and with Him, working through questions and drawing close to Him to find the answers.
There will be times we don’t get to choose when, where, how, and why our faith muscle gets exercised. God allows difficult things to come into our lives to stretch our faith and build it up. You could call it a severe mercy when He allows these hardships in our lives that cause us to be completely dependent on Him and on our knees before Him – this is truly the best place for us to be.
In Ken Wytsma’s book, The Grand Paradox, he explores the reality that God’s ways are often paradoxical to the world’s ways. He argues that doubt is okay, it will accompany the life of faith, and what looks like a trial can actually be one of the most important and meaningful seasons of our lives. This is a paradox, that something good can result from something seemingly bad. God can “bestow a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (see Isaiah 61:3).
Hebrews 12:10-11 “Our earthly fathers disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but God disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.“
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”