Recently, we sang Good Good Father in service. It’s a nice worship song with a chorus that goes: ” You are perfect in all of Your ways.”
You are perfect in all of Your ways.
I found myself struggling with that phrase. I’d recently heard a testimony about missions agency YWAM reaching out to sex workers in Geylang and providing shelter for a homeless man. “What about the prostitutes and homeless, God? How many of them are there against their will?”
Thinking about the poor and the orphaned – how I grew up in a family that wasn’t well-to-do – how could I possibly tell someone in the midst of deep suffering that God is perfect in all of His ways?
The song used to be easy for me to sing because nothing had really made me question God’s goodness in my life.
But I began to wonder if I would still be able to sing such a line if I were in their shoes. My heart broke for them. While my heart believes that God’s ways are perfect – I couldn’t quite make the link in my head.
I cried and prayed for them, wrestling with God. He led me to read Isaiah 55, wherein He calls Israel to turn back to Him.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
Somehow it struck me within. My thoughts and ways are nothing compared to the Lord’s. When I was struggling to understand why bad things happen or why God would choose to allow the presence of such evils – rather than saving all the innocent people immediately – He reminded me of a certain truth.
I am but a speck of dust in the universe. But God “sits enthroned above the circle of the Earth, and its inhabitants like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). He is sovereign.
“Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows Him his counsel? Whom did He consult, and who made Him understand? Who taught Him the path of justice, and taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14)
No one. The Sovereign God works all things according to the counsel of His will. He met my doubt and intellectual strife at my heart. I became convicted that His ways are eternal, excellent and praiseworthy always – whether one accepts it or not.
Sometime later I was asking God the hard questions again. God brought an image to my mind: A paintbrush was dipped in yellow and orange paints, and then it began to go over a canvas. It was beautiful.
But a brush, dipped in black and brownish paint, began to glide over the canvas too! I thought it was messing up the beautiful painting. This continued, and the painting was splotched with both bright and dark coloured paints. Finally, I saw the finished product – a spectacle.
Something clicked. The blank canvas is life, and the colours on it are the things that happen. For the canvas to be complete, there must not only be brightly coloured paints (positive events) – there will be some darker paints (negative events) on it as well.
The painting wouldn’t be complete if there were only the bright colours. I would miss out on how the Painter uses both paints for the painting.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I’m journeying through what seems like a mess of paints, and at times I don’t quite understand how everything adds up to the finished work. But I’m trusting in God, letting His Word shape my experience of the world.
If you can resonate with what I’ve written, I’d like to share a simple prayer with you: “Lord, even though I might not understand the circumstances around me – I know You and I know your heart. You are a sovereign God who loves me.
“I will hold on to Your truth and wait for the day where You will wipe every tear from our eyes – where there’s no more death, mourning, crying or pain.”
I remember feeling sorry for myself during a geography lecture theatre in junior college. I had heard my teacher say: “If you have any financial problems, come and look for us, we will buy the notes for you. The only worry a student should have is their studies – not financial issues.”
I started tearing. I felt so angry at my family’s financial situation. I felt angry at God – “Why is life so unfair? Why must my sister and I worry about money even from the time we were in primary school? Why did we have to grow up quick for our parents?”
But over the years, I started to see the many ways in which God provided for us and blessed us. For example, getting a scholarship wasn’t by chance or my effort – it was God’s way of providing for my family. And God blessed me with relatives who provided for my family in many ways.
My lack helped me learn He is my Provider.
There will be many more revelations of how God works in my life. I will never have the full picture of everything, and I will always have hard questions to ask. But my heart will always choose to say, “Lord, blessed be your name.”