Romans 9: When God Doesn’t Make Sense

Read Romans 9:14-33


When God Doesn’t Make Sense

The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.
~Romans 9:33

Digging Deeper: Have there been times in your life when God hasn’t made sense?  It happens to me all the time.  Early and often, his purpose seems shaky, his logic flawed, his plan muddled, his goodness questionable—frankly, God just make sense.

Guess what?  He doesn’t have to.  He is God and we are not!

In truth, most of the time when we call God into question, the problem is with our understanding.  Our vision is clouded by ignorance, or pain, or self-preservation, or selfishness, or some other limiting defect brought about by the sin-altered genetics we carry around.  But once in a while, we have a very clear picture of what God is up to and we just don’t like it.  It seems unfair, inconsistent with a loving God, and incongruent with his good promises, a la Romans 9:14-18!

In response to that universal complaint, Paul offers some sage advice that you and I would do well to embrace.  It would save us a great deal of angst in trying to figure out what will never be figured out: The mystery of God’s ways (See Romans 11:33-36, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”). Paul’s advice comes in the form of a question:

“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him
who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have
the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for
noble purposes and some for common use?”
(Romans 9:20-21)

What is Paul saying?  That God is God and you are not!  If God wants to make one lump of clay into a “vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans” (The Message rendering of verse 21), who is the clay to argue with the Potter?  God has his reasons, and he doesn’t have to explain himself.  Even if he did, we probably wouldn’t have the capacity to understand. And if we did, God’s explanation most likely wouldn’t salve our uneasiness with his ways—which, just so you know, primarily arises out of our ongoing wrestling match with trying to settle the issue of godship in our lives.

The bottom line is that God has a purpose in everything he does—things we agree with and things we don’t; things we understand and things we don’t; things we like and things we don’t:

“I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you
and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
(Romans 9:17)

So if that is the inexorable purpose of God, then here’s what I am going with: Trusting God.  And what’s the promise to those of us who will take that approach, even when—especially when—God doesn’t make sense?

“The one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
(Romans 9:33)

Yes—God is God and I am not!  I’m okay with that.

“God is too kind to ever be cruel, too wise to make a mistake,
and too deep to always explain Himself.”

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