Do You Really Want to Know What God Is Thinking?

Do You Really Want to Know What God Is Thinking

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Sometimes, God can seem distant and possibly disinterested in what is happening in our lives. The silence of God is deafening as we seek answers when life takes a turn for the worse. We feel all alone on the ground level, a painful loneliness that turns our hearts upward. We are muttering and sputtering through life while God is off fighting battles that seem more important to Him than tending to our business. We want an audience with the King. We need to hear what He has to say about our problems. Or do we? Are we really prepared for what He has to say?

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Divine Care

It’s not wrong to ask if God cares about you or wonder if He’s paying attention to what’s happening in your life. Theologically speaking, you’re aware of His omniscience and omnipresence, but experientially, a sense of desperation can veil what we know to be true. We might even succumb to the temptation to make futile attempts to force God’s hand through manipulative praying like what I did. Imagine the desperation that would have to mount up in our souls to lure us into thinking we could budge the hand of God as though we have such power. God moves when He’s good and ready, and if He’s silent or not intervening, we must capture our thoughts before they run wild on us. The good Lord will do what He has planned for us and will not relent until those things manifest in us (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Philippians 1:6). Remember Job’s desperate acknowledgment?

But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind (Job 23:13-14).

Sometimes I think it would be wise to be more cautious and discerning when requesting the Lord to reveal all His cards to us. Other times we may want God to intervene so severely that we do not consider what it could be like if He did speak to us. The problem with these scenarios is that if our thoughts are not His, we may be in for the shock of our lives when He finally assesses and addresses our situation (Isaiah 55:8-9). Without question, circumstances demand an answer, and the Lord is the only one who knows all the facts. The problem is when we think we know the answers and demand Him to weigh in on our troubles. I am not suggesting you resign to a twisted, morbid fear of God or lace your thoughts with an accusation that He is not for you (Romans 8:31).

God is for you. He is on your side. The Lord’s favor on you and His pleasure with you is never in doubt. God loves you with everlasting love, and you cannot, in any way, diminish His affection for you. A better and more measured approach would be to perceive the need for wise and careful consideration about how we think about our problems and the path we must walk if our goal is to follow in the steps of Jesus (1 Peter 2:20). More than likely, whatever we are going through has more contours than we ever imagined. The Lord is meticulously attentive to our lives. His omniscience allows Him to know every microscopic detail of our inner being (Hebrews 4:12-13) while simultaneously planning every future step and outcome (Proverbs 16:9). He is more prudent in our lives than we are.

Divine Story

God did finally speak to our old friend Job. He got what he asked for, but with considerable caution for us. We must tread carefully about how we think about God and our problems. He does know more than us, and He will do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If we are not careful, especially during seasons of suffering, we could develop a self-righteous, grumbling spirit that will cripple what the Lord desires to do in our lives. Sometimes a parent will withhold parts of the story because the child cannot steward every aspect of the truth (John 16:12-14). The Lord was teaching Job the blessing of not knowing the rest of the story.

Has it occurred to you how it is not a bad thing not to know the rest of the story? How easy is it to cast our cares on the Lord, even when life is not going according to your desires? There have been times when I knew to cast my cares on the Lord but was hesitant, not knowing what He might do with them, where He might take me, or what He may require of me. We have an internal dialogue that recognizes God as a “terrible God,” who can do mighty things that might put us in places that push us beyond our natural abilities to extricate ourselves from the trouble at hand (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). There is a healthy fear of God, but sometimes our fear of God can slide from reverential respect to sin-ladened fear that creates distance from the Divine.

Job was aware there were many things in the Lord’s mind for him, and he knew God would bring those things to pass (Job 23:13-14). He even admitted that this kind of God-awareness terrified him, weakening his heart (Job 23:15-16). Still, our old friend kept pressing for answers, and his friends kept offering counsel. Through it all, God was mysteriously silent. Like a father listening to his children argue from another room, the Lord sat in all His un-budge-able-ness as the faulty wisdom of His children was being bandied from one to the other (Job 12:2). Then, in the perfect, seemingly slow timing of the Lord, He relinquished a piece of His mind to Job’s situation.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:1-4).

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Divine Request

Mercifully, it was only a piece of His mind. Who could stand if He gave His full mind on any matter? Oh, my! I must admit this is not what I was expecting from the Lord. Job was awakened from his wisdom-less slumber as counsel from heaven thundered down on his grumbly soul. It only became worse from there. The Lord stood on Job’s proverbial neck and rained down pure wisdom, insight, and clarity, all wrapped in an unrelenting rebuke. He did not cease for four contiguous chapters. God went from silence to speaking at the speed of sound, and the words He selected for His above-reproach servant were some of the most reliable and course-corrective counsel you will ever hear. Apart from a brief response from Job (Job 40:3-5), the Lord gave one of His most extended counseling monologues in Scripture.

This monologue is a fantastic and mind-bending response from the Counselor to the counselee. It was one long, rhetorical, mouth-stopping question after another. Job’s mindset had gone from a desire to figure out what was happening to him to a complaining and grumbling spirit (Philippians 2:14). The longer we put off fully trusting the Lord, especially when life does not make sense, we will eventually morph into a bitter person (Matthew 6:34). Regardless of our good intentions, there is not a requirement on the Lord to give us the answers to our most perplexing questions. Sometimes we can talk too much, and in the case of Job, there was a divine request for him to close his mouth and listen because he was putting out too many words.

God’s call on Job to trust Him, even when life does not make sense, is a call for us to do similarly. This message is stern for our modern culture to accept. We live in a world of unending rights and privileges. Being detained at a traffic light is too much for small souled people. Imagine our most pressing issues not receiving the care we believe we need. At this point in my walk with the Lord, it amazes me how I still complain about things that should not matter. After a while, it seemed as though I would be mature enough to trust the Lord in all things, especially after experiencing Him work in some of the more difficult challenges of my life. In the ten years (1987-1997), I lost two of my brothers through murder, and my wife, two children, a job, home, money, and property through a divorce. During this time, I brought many requests to the Lord.

Divine Tolerance

I was not always kind, patient, or understanding when I presented my arguments before the Lord, even though He was kind, patient, and understanding. He tolerated me. Sometimes I thought He was too patient—too slow in coming to my aid. Regardless of my immaturity, He was unmoveable, never giving in to seeing things my way. He would allow me to complain while He maintained His position of silence. This posture only irritated me, pushing me farther down the funnel of depression and discouragement. Not to be deterred, the more silent He became, the more emboldened I became about my rights, my losses, and my need to know why these things were happening. If He was not going to speak, I maintained a torrid pace of filling our time together with words. I could not perceive that His silence was leading me to the end of myself.

Yes, leadership is verbal, and leadership is silence. Sometimes it’s wiser to guide someone through your silence than your words. I have found this to be true in counseling. If I sit in silence with a counselee, it reveals their innermost thoughts as they fill up the space with their words. The lack of God’s Word made me uncomfortable, prompting me to fill the void with things that seemed wise, only leading me into more profound despair. Humans are not comfortable with silence. When nothing competes with our thoughts, we’re left with our internal dialogue, revealing our most authentic selves, the things God already knows about us, but we have yet to come to these conclusions. God’s Words would have been a distraction, keeping me focused on what He was saying rather than hearing the confusion of my soul as I dialogued with myself. So, He left me to myself—in silence.

This approach to soul care is analogous to the sun’s heat, as it bears down on a bowl of snow and mud. The sun quickly reveals what’s in the containers as one hardens and the other softens. His silence was like the sun’s heat, bearing down on my soul, revealing what was inside of me. Once I stopped focusing on the quietness of God and gave attention to my complicated and confused soul noise, I began to discern that more refined work needed to happen. The heat of His silence revealed things I did not like about me, but I knew there was no proper way out of this mess if I didn’t stop my grumbling. If I had taken the Lord’s posture of silence, I would have come to these conclusions more quickly. I was filling up the room with words as an offensive maneuver to distract me from paying attention to these deeper things that I knew I had to address if I wanted to improve. Sometimes, people will use words as a smokescreen to hide behind what they know to be true about themselves, but they don’t want to change those things. Finally, I shut up. I was ready to listen.

Divine Words

I will never forget the day, during my journey through Job, when I came to chapter thirty-eight, and the Lord finally said something. It was as though God was no longer talking to Job, but He was speaking to me. Those unrelenting and demanding questions the Lord was asking Job shot through millennia and landed in my heart. It was as though omniscient God had me in mind when He was rebuking Job. He began to remind me of a few things I had forgotten. My arrogance and lack of faith in His active goodness in my life kept me from seeing all I needed to see. This time I was silent. I followed Job’s example by putting my hand over my mouth. After the Lord broke the silence and entered into my whirlwind, it became fearfully apparent how I needed to shut up, sit up, and listen. If there was anything to say, it needed to be something like what Job said.

Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further (Job 40:4-5).

Sometimes our complaining may motivate God to respond to us. Beware: this could be a bittersweet experience. If we continue to demand the Lord to reveal His full mind on our situations, let me ask, “Do you really want to know what the Lord is thinking?” Job did not understand how God could not and would not tell him all he wanted to know. Job could not know there was a deal struck with the devil and how the Lord tested his faith (Job 1:12). The point of it all was supposed to be a mystery to Job. After all, the Lord was teaching him to live by faith rather than sight (2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:27). The Lord cannot and will not tell you the outcome of the events in your life because it would sabotage the function and purpose of faith. If you knew the outcome, you might endure.

The problem with your endurance is that your faith would be in the known result rather than the Lord Jehovah God. Do you parent this way? If you tell your child exactly how things will end up, your child may proceed because you revealed the ups and downs, the ins and outs to him. What have you accomplished other than teaching him how to trust his wits and ability to predict the future? If you hope to teach him how to trust God, you want to exercise his faith muscle, not always ensure soft landings. Knowing how things will end contradicts the first commandment by setting up a false god (Exodus 20:3): your faith would not be in God alone but in the god of self-reliance. God is calling us to a place of faith, which is the whole point of the Bible and our lives. Trusting God was the point of the story with Adam and Eve—all the Lord asked from them was to believe Him (Genesis 2:16-17).

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Divine Trust

Job wanted explanations for his troubles rather than trusting God, who was in his problems. The Lord was not going to allow this. Knowing the answers would have put Job on the fast track to self-reliance rather than trusting God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But Job would not shut his mouth. Job’s ongoing bitterness and complaining motivated God to clarify the situation. Job received what he wanted, but it was not what he expected. The Lord put him in his place. The Lord said loudly and relentlessly that there was only one option: trust Me! God was entirely in charge of the situation, and Job needed to stand down. There is no counterargument. We either believe in the Lord through our circumstances or suffer the consequences. If we try to manhandle our problems our way, the Lord will be against us (James 4:6).

The good news for Job is that he listened. He received the message loud and clear. He became quiet. He put his hand over his mouth. He stopped complaining. After the Lord spoke, there was nothing more to say. Hopefully, we can learn from our old friend. There is wisdom from Job’s story that we should be able to apply to our lives practically. For example, though the Lord spoke, it did not change Job’s circumstance one iota. God did not speak because He wanted to improve Job’s situation. He spoke to change Job. We will eventually see how God changed Job’s heart (Job 42:5-6). We will also see how the Lord transformed his circumstances (Job 42:10), but a situational improvement was not the point of God’s counsel.

I do not recall all the trials the Lord brought me through where I knew the reasons for those trials. Reflecting, I can see how knowing the why of the circumstance was not the most important thing the Lord wanted to reveal to me. The most vital aspect was to learn how He was with me and would never let me go, no matter how hard things became. He also wanted me to change, which was more valuable to Him than a change of circumstances. Though the situations were not welcome, they were critical, as God used them to mature me. We must live with the mystery and uncomfortableness of the juxtaposition—the situations are bad, but the results are divine. If you can learn this one lesson, you will become a mature Christian, even if your circumstances never change. Do you really want to know what the Lord is thinking? If so, I suggest you put on your seatbelt because God’s words might not go as you hoped, especially if you have been critical, grumbling, or faithless.

Call to Action

  1. What is your number one takeaway from this article? Why so?
  2. What have your adverse situations revealed to you about your internal dialogue? Is there something that needs to change, and if so, will you start making those changes?
  3. Are you more prone to grumble when things go badly for you, or are you able to quickly reorient your mind to the deeper work of the Lord? Explain your answer.
  4. What are some of the positives of changing you but not changing the circumstances?
  5. As you observe your friends suffer, how might you use the lessons here to care for them?
  6. Perhaps sharing with a friend how the silence of God was a pivotal point in your walk with Him would refresh your soul and encourage theirs.

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