Today’s Reading: Gen 18:16-33
Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
Small children don’t have a filter.
They ask uncomfortable questions about other people because they are genuinely curious. “Why is that lady so fat?” “Why is Grandpa always grumpy?” When one of my daughters was very young, friends of ours who had been a dating couple broke up. We explained to her that while she used to see them spending a lot of time together, they had decided not to do that anymore. Sometime later she happened upon them working out their differences. She walked up to them and asked the woman “Why are you hanging out with HIM?!”.
But while it’s funny to watch these things happen, it’s not as funny to be on the receiving end of questions like these. Few of us want to have our motives questioned, or the decisions we make challenged. So we are conditioned from a very young age not to ask questions that might make people squirm, or cause offence. . . and unfortunately, we carry this habit into our relationship with God, and it creates challenges in our faith.
Abraham, in Gen. 18, pleads for Sodom.
God has just revealed to him that he is about to rain judgment down on the cities in the plain of Zoar for their wickedness. Abraham is concerned: His nephew Lot lives in one of those cities, who Abraham hopes is not deserving of God’s judgment. He very tentatively asks a delicate question of the man visiting him, who he has recognized as his God if not at least a high-ranking representative. “What if 50 righteous people can be found in the city? Will you still sweep it away then?”
The question is a very important one because Abraham rightly understands that it cuts to the core of who God is and whether he can be trusted. “Far be it from you to do such a thing! . . . Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Abraham has built his life on the idea that God rewards the righteous and punishes the guilty, the idea that following God matters. If whether or not he does what’s right doesn’t matter to God, then he might be better off on his own.
Abraham’s countdown of righteous people is the question of whether God is in fact just. Perhaps you are wrestling with the same question in your circumstances today: You’re a follower of Jesus, but your school life is still disrupted, your job might have evaporated, you might even have lost a loved one to COVID-19 already. When life doesn’t seem fair, one idea that comes to us is that maybe following Jesus doesn’t matter.
Approaching God with Humility
God will not accept your accusations that he is unjust; there are plenty of examples in scripture of him replying harshly to those who would accuse him of wrong or unfairness. He is, however, open to honest questions where your perception or understanding of what’s happening in the world don’t match up with what you know of him. God is a big boy, and he takes no offence if we humble ourselves to sit at his feet and ask questions to try to understand what he is doing.
When my daughter asked her uncomfortable question all those years ago, my friend replied, “I’ve been asking myself the same thing.” But through that discussion, sitting and listening to each other, and catching glimpses of each others’ hearts, my friends got back together. They’ve been married and in ministry together for over a decade now, and their marriage remains strong because they trust in who each other is.
I encourage you, if you’re struggling with God’s goodness or faithfulness as this pandemic plays out, to take some time to sit at the feet of Jesus and ask him what he is about in the world right now. Ask him to show you the part of his person that seems to be missing from the world around you. Then listen for his voice to assure you that he is still God, and to teach you more about himself.
A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.
For more resources check out our summer staff resource page.