When God Doesn’t Act
2 Chronicles 21:1–23:21; 1 John 1:1–4; Psalm 102:1–28
“When Jehoram ascended to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself and murdered all his brothers with the sword, and even some of the princes of Israel.… And he did evil in the sight of Yahweh. But Yahweh was not willing to destroy the house of David on account of the covenant that he had made with David and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever” (2 Chr 21:4, 6–7).
Biblical stories like this teach us not only about God’s actions, but also about His decisions not to act. It must have been difficult for those suffering under Jehoram’s ruthless reign to understand why God would allow him to stay in power over them, His people. Yet God knew there was something even larger at stake: long-term, righteous reign over His people—and salvation itself. The people’s suffering could not outweigh the importance of preserving the line of David, which held the hope of God’s people. Salvation comes through David’s line, as Jesus, the great Savior of the world, is David’s heir (Matt 1:1).
Eventually, John the evangelist was able to testify, “What was from the beginning [and thus existed even during the times of suffering we endured], what we have heard [being all that has been promised], what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched [because John actually knew Jesus and met Him in His resurrected form], concerning the word of life [being Jesus—God as both His Word and as His personhood].… [Now] our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:1, 3). John saw the day when God would ultimately lift the suffering of His people and place it on His Son so that His Son could die as the ultimate sufferer for us (compare Isa 53:10–12; Psa 22).
God does not cause suffering, but there are moments when—as much as it hurts Him—He allows it. If He has a saving act at work among us in the midst of these moments, they’re worth it. God will always make good on His promises, and He will always far exceed our expectations.
What do you think can be accomplished through your current sufferings? Is there a hurting person in your life you could come alongside to offer them the hope of Christ?
John D. Barry
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.