[This blog post is part of a series called 'Hard' truth]
I’m sure it doesn’t sound like it the first time you hear it, but the truth that God is for Himself above all is a strong and certain comfort in the face of trials.
The Bible is REALLY clear that God’s primary concern is His own glory. The whole purpose of this thing (life and death and everything in between) is for God to display who He truly is.
We think God being about Himself makes Him arrogant and selfish. But God is the greatest reality in the world. Seeing Him is the key to our joy. When God shows off His character, He is actually securing my happiness. Make no mistake – God is for me. He is for me by being for Himself above all.
I would lay awake at night in France in the room I shared with my sisters and listen to the them breathe in and out and wait for the time to pass until I could go home and pretend the whole thing was just a dream. And as I laid there I would think about God.
I would think about how terrifyingly alone my dad must have felt without Him.
And I would think about how terrifyingly alone I felt with Him.
I would think about all my fears and all the doubts that were washing over me with all the force of a wave bursting free from a dam. And I would feel the faith the corners of my heart digging in and trying to stand firm in the overwhelming flood. I would feel the edges of my fingertips clinging to the slippery ledge of hope.
And just as I would feel myself weakening and just as I would be about to yield to the darkness of despair I would remember that God is for Himself above all. And I could breathe in and out a little more easily.
Because if God is for Himself He must at all times act to display the truth of His character. He has to act in accordance with who He really is.
In my last post I shared one of the truths I celebrated in France: God does whatever He pleases and I cannot stay His hand or change His mind. As one of you pointed out – I celebrated that God is free to act however He wants.
But there is another truth about God I celebrated in France. I celebrated that God isn’t free to do absolutly anything. He is constrained by one thing: His character. He must at all times act in accordance with who He is. And that is great news.
Lying in that bed in France, with the terrifying awareness that God didn’t work for me and wasn’t a slave to my feelings, there was a strong and certain comfort. God wouldn’t leave me, because it isn’t His character. God couldn’t forsake me because He made a promise and He is literally unable to lie.
Lying in that bed, I meditated on what I knew what was highest in His heart – His glory. And that meditation fueled my confidence before His throne and filled my prayers with faith.
I lay there in bed and I appealed to His glory. I begged Him to show up even more clearly. Not for my own name’s sake, (not so everyone would look to me), but for His name’s sake, (so that people would worship Him more).
I’m His kid, and the way He treats me reflects who He is and so I begged for His nearness and His comfort so that those around me would say – man, she has a great Father!
Mostly I begged for my dad’s soul. I prayed that my “God would make [my dad] worthy of his calling and would fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of Jesus would be glorified‘ in my dad.
I begged God to save my dad’s soul so that people would say ‘he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ and that they would ‘glorify God’ because of this.
There were a million things that weren’t certain in those days, but God’s glory was secure. I knew that no matter what else, God was at work for His name to be made even more visible in this world. And since that glory is the key to my joy, I knew that my happiness was secure.
In the months since those nights of fear and faith, things have changed. The world looks different to me without my dad in it. I can feel his absence from halfway around the world.
But here’s what I know for sure: in each and every minute of each and every day His story is being written perfectly.
A great design is being woven and when we finally see as we were made to see, the pattern will be revealed. And the strands of our lives that were threaded through pain and loss will not just be forgotten; they will not be irrelevant. Those bright threads will be integral flashes of color in a devastating displaying His glory.