Have you ever noticed how some people throw statements like, “have faith,” or “just trust in the Lord,” around like confetti? Truthfully, I don’t know about you, but I’ve done a lot of that during my years of Christianity. I want to believe it. I want to trust in God. I want to believe that He’s truly and unquestionably always doing what’s right and best (or allowing it to happen). But… sometimes… I witness things or see things that just make me struggle with this…
How many times, honestly, have you stood back and watched as the events in society or your personal life unfold and wondered how on earth this could be happening this way? How many times have you felt that nagging doubt regarding the benevolence or even the reality of God pop into your mind because of tragedy in the world. We see lots of injustices continually. We see the people that exist in the upper classes of society getting away with things that would have you or I put in prison. We see disabled or elderly people that can’t even afford to have a new roof put on their home but the mega-churches have no problem spending tens of thousands on stage lights in order to make sure the singer’s and speaker’s faces look just right (I’m not trying rant against the church, just bear with me). Meanwhile, the God that brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea by having the literal ocean form two different walls of water on either side so they could walk through on dry land seemingly does nothing. I have an atheist friend who has a major problem with the concept of a loving God due to some of these very things. And then, when we don’t understand it either, we believers have a trump card we often lay down: “His ways are not our ways…”
Well… if you’re still reading, then you’ve begun to feel the tension of this subject… and perhaps you struggle with it, too. Many people may have checked out by now thinking that I’ve become an atheist. Nowhere near the truth. But I do want to honestly confront this subject. Sometimes… God totally confuses me… and perhaps even makes me mad.
I was reading this morning in 1 Chronicles 13. I came across the story where David was having the Ark of the Covenant brought back to its rightful place in Jerusalem. As they were bringing it, the oxen that were pulling the cart it was on stumbled and it began to topple as well. A guy named, Uzzah, simply reached out his hand and steadied the Ark so it wouldn’t fall off. The Scripture states something that makes no sense to me. It says that this made God angry at Uzzah and struck him dead. There’s a sentence that follows that’s also of great interest. It says that this angered David. Angered him at whom? I can only assume he was a bit mad at God for what had happened.
We are never told in Scripture why God did that. He never tells us that Uzzah had it coming for other reasons or anything. This vein of the story pretty much stops there. Whenever we question this, there are those that would say that we should never question God. The problem with that is that’s not a relationship but a dictatorship. Whereas God has the ability and authority to rule us in this fashion, He’s made it clear that He does not desire to be a despot. He wants to act as our Father.
I’ve preached that story on numerous occasions and each time, I’ve done some type of linguistic acrobatics in order to explain away its difficulty. Here’s the truth of it: faith wouldn’t be faith if it always made sense.
We shouldn’t shy away from the fact that perhaps, in certain instances like this one, we don’t understand why God would act this way. We shouldn’t hide behind a blind loyalty that gives no real thought to these types of things. Ultimately, that will result in harm to a true faith based relationship. I’m not saying that God will explain Himself. But I do believe He wants His children to express our concerns to Him.
There is a limitless amount of explanations of what happened with Uzzah. But to focus on that is to miss the fact that David had a very real moment with God over this. One of many that he would have. Whomever the writer was of this section of the Chronicles totally understood that David was not happy with God. But he also understood that David didn’t cross the line into disrespect or rebellion. It’s not disrespectful to approach Someone with Whom we are supposed to have a real relationship… it’s honest… it’s relational… and that’s what God wants.