Bob: Do you find yourself thinking that God is responsible for the blessings in your life and someone or something else is responsible for the trials and the challenges? Barbara Rainey says a careful reading of Scripture will lead you to a different conclusion.
Barbara: “I am the Lord who creates darkness, who causes well-being and creates calamity.” I didn’t like that so much. That felt really disconcerting to me. It was stunning—it was shocking. It’s like, “God creates calamity?” For years I thought that the only person who created calamity was Satan, and I thought it only happened to bad people— not good people. I certainly didn’t think God created calamity.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, August 2nd. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
Whether it’s a sunny day where you are or there are storm clouds on your horizon, Barbara Rainey wants to remind you that God is in control.
Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’re spending some time hearing from your wife this week about the sufficiency of God. You know, I think about what the Bible has to say about God having given us in His Word everything pertaining to life and godliness. It takes time—but over time, hopefully—we learn that once you realize God is all you have, then you realize God is all you need.
Dennis: And He’s patient with us as we come to that conclusion. The cool thing is you’re going to hear from a very wise woman whom I love dearly—Barbara Rainey. I was thinking, Bob, some of our listeners can remember this—most of them don’t have any idea what I’m talking about—but there used to be an advertisement that started like this, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”
Bob: I remember that, yes.
Dennis: Yes. Some of our listeners are going, “What’s E.F. Hutton? Does it even exist today?”
Bob: “Who was he talking about?”
Dennis: He’s a stockbroker.
When Barbara talks, I listen, because she’s very thoughtful—very precise—and I can promise you what you’re about to hear in this message—and the first part of the message we’ve already heard—but she talks about how you can view the present and the future—as a woman or a man, as far as that goes—and trust God with what you’re facing today. She’s a real student of the Bible, so she has some really gritty stuff to say from the Scriptures.
Bob: This was a message that she gave to a group of women at a retreat at The Cove—in Asheville, North Carolina recently—and it’s all about God being enough. As you said, we’ve already heard about how God is enough for our past, and now we’re going to hear about how He is enough for the present. Here’s Barbara.
Barbara: Number two—our second story—is going to show us God the Father is enough for our present tense—for our todays—every day.
When Dennis and I were raising our kids, one of the things that we did pretty regularly was we went out for a weekly date night. It was life for me. One night we went out for our weekly date night—we always did Sunday night because our church didn’t have Sunday night services—and that was the easiest night for us to get away that was usually open on the calendar.
We—at that time—only had two teenagers left at home, they were 14 and 15. As we walked out the door for our weekly date night, we said to the girls—the two girls, “Now, you have homework to do, we want you to do your homework—we want you to get your work done, and then you can read a book—but no TV. Got it?”
“Oh yes, sure, we got it.”
Dennis and I walked out the door, and as we walked out the door—
—I called over my shoulder, before the door slammed, I said, “Don’t forget, what did I say? No TV, right?”
“Got it, no TV.”
Dennis and I went to dinner, we were gone about three hours—maybe four—I don’t know. We came home, and as we were coming in Dennis said to me—he looked at me and he said, “I’m going to turn the lights off on the car, and let’s just kind of slide in quietly, stealthily, and see—let’s just check on the girls.” [Laughter]
So he turned off the lights and we rolled down the hill really quietly, turned the car in, and parked—of course, they didn’t know we were there because they didn’t see anybody coming. We got out of the car and we walked around to the front of the house. Our sidewalk went across the front, and we stopped in front of the dining room windows, and we looked in the dining room windows, and there, through the dining room windows, and beyond the dining room was our kitchen. In the dining room windows we could see this bright blue glow. [Laughter]
It was a dead giveaway, and as we looked we could see they were propped up in the kitchen, glued to the television.
So Dennis said to me—he said, “You stay here and keep watching them through the window. I’m going to go around back and come in the back door, and you see what happens.” I said, “Great.” [Laughter]
This is one of those times when parents get the upper edge, and it felt so good. I have to tell you, it felt so good, because I can’t tell you how many times we had no idea who did what, who was right, who the guilty party was—and this time we knew. There was no dispute.
So, he walked around to the back door, opened the door, jingled his keys for a while, and said, “Girls, we’re home!” I mean, they jumped as quick as they could. The TV went off, the books were open, they were sitting there, studious, just little angels—little angels. [Laughter]
He walked in and he said, “Girls, how was your evening?” “Great, great, great.”
“So…did you get your homework done?”
“Yes, we’re working on it,” you know.
“Did you watch any TV?”
What do you think they said?
“Oh, no, we didn’t watch any TV.”
He said, “Are you sure?”
“No, Dad—we didn’t watch any TV.”
“Okay,” he said. “I want you to turn around, look over your shoulder, and look out that window, and I want you to wave at your mom. [Laughter]
“She’s been standing there watching you watch TV.” [Laughter] They were toast.
I came in and we had a little conversation about it, and we decided—Dennis and I decided—that we were going to ground them for a month. First of all, they broke the rule—they were not supposed to watch TV—and they did. Secondly, they lied about it.
One of our standards for what we discipline for in our house was lying, and it comes from Proverbs chapter 6 that says, “These six things the Lord hates,” and then it says, “yes, seven,” and a lying tongue is one of the six things—seven things—that God hates.
We decided as parents early on—real early on—that we were going to discipline our kids for the things that God says He hates—and God says He hates a lying tongue. He also says He hates a haughty spirit and hands that shed innocent blood—and to me that meant kids that bite and hit and that kind of thing. Those are the things we disciplined for. They knew that lying was one of the things at the top of the list—so we grounded them for an entire month.
They weren’t happy, obviously. They felt like it was unfair. They felt like we were kind of over-the-top in grounding them for an entire month. They tried to negotiate with us. They’re going, “Well, we didn’t watch it for that long,” you know—that kind of thing. Do your kids ever do that? Negotiate? Mm-hmm. Yes.
Let me ask you this: Do you ever negotiate with God?
I want us to look at a passage in the Old Testament, so turn with me in your Bibles to Isaiah 45.
I love this chapter in the Old Testament, and the context for this chapter is prophecy. In this chapter, God is foretelling something that is going to happen hundreds of years in the future. In this chapter, He repeats a statement about Himself four times, and this is what I want us to look at. Turn to Isaiah 45, and we’re going to start in verse 22. I’m going to read backwards—which we don’t normally do—but I have a reason for it.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other.” That’s the repeated phrase.
Verse 18, “For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and established it, He made it and did not create it a waste place),
‘I am the LORD, and there is no other.’” Number two.
Number three is verse 5—“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God.”
And then in verse 6 He says, “…that men may know, from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me.” Four times God says it, and then He finishes at the end of verse 6 and says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other.”
Now, I want us to read verse 7 together. Ready? It comes after the end of verse 6. It’s actually a continuation of verse 6, because verse 6 doesn’t end with a period, it ends with a comma. “I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity? I am the LORD, who does all these things.”
How did that make you feel when you read that? Maybe you’ve read that for the first time. I read it for the first time maybe ten or 15 years ago. “I am the LORD, who creates darkness, who causes well-being and creates calamity.”
I didn’t like that so much! That felt really disconcerting to me. It was stunning—it was shocking. It’s like, “God creates calamity?” For years I thought that the only person who created calamity was Satan, and I thought it only happened to bad people—not good people—and I certainly didn’t think God created calamity.
The thing that’s interesting to me about this verse—well, a bunch of things are interesting—one is that I looked up the word “calamity,” and it’s a Hebrew adjective that means “bad”—it means “adversity”—it means “affliction”. It’s like, “Okay, it means what I think it means.”
Then I looked up “create” and “cause,” and those two words mean “to fashion or to make” or “to accomplish”. So, “create calamity” means just what it says.
Just like our teenage daughters, who felt our discipline was harsh—it was a calamity in their lives—but we gave it to them for their good, because we knew that they needed it.
Our teenagers felt like their suffering—which was caused by us for a whole month—was too extreme. They felt it was too unfair, but we had a higher good in mind. We were training them in righteousness.
It’s a great reminder to me of my relationship with God. I view things that He does—oftentimes—as bad, I don’t like it—it feels unfair; it feels extreme. But God says, “I have a higher good in mind. I always have a higher good in mind.” He is always working for us for our good.
At the heart of Isaiah 45:7 is the question of God’s sovereignty. Is He in control—or not? It’s a question we have to wrestle with—and answer. Do we believe He is in control, or not?
Then the second question is: Does He have the authority to decide what is good and what is not good?
We think we have the authority to decide what’s good and not good—but God is the one who is in charge.
Here’s the third question: Can He do something that feels bad to us and still be loving? The answer is yes, because we did something that felt really bad to our girls. They didn’t like it, they were restricted; it felt bad to them. It felt like a calamity to them, but we did it because we loved them. We had good in mind for them, we had a higher purpose in mind for them—and so God does for us.
I’m going to read you something that’s written in a Hebrew commentary that really was—I think is so well written—about this verse—just to put some of you at ease in your thinking, because this will say it much better than I can say it.
“God does not just allow darkness and calamity and then blame someone else.
“He creates the problems of human history. Evil is not outside of God’s control. He uses it without being dirtied by it. Let’s stop trying to rescue God from a problem He created for Himself by claiming full mastery over all things. Let’s not relieve God of His responsibilities as King of the universe.” —Isn’t that good? — “The very thing that we humans perceive as a problem, God perceives as His glory. God owns the dark moments of life.” I love that—“God owns the dark moments of life.”
“He bends everything around for His saving purpose. When Isaiah wrote this so long ago, he did not overlook a problem or a difficulty that we brainy, modern people happen to notice.” —We tend to think that way; don’t we? We think we’re a whole lot smarter than those people who lived back in the Old Testament times. “Isaiah 45:7 is not an embarrassment—it’s what we love about God.
Not even evil can frustrate Him, and His surprising strategies are our assurance. He is proving to us that, ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other.’”
I hope that encourages you and comforts you and helps you make peace with this God of ours who is very, very good but who also isn’t always safe. None of us know what the rest of today will bring. None of us know what the next hour will bring—we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We woke up with plans for our day this morning; didn’t we? We knew what we were going to do next—we knew where we were going to go—we know what time we’re going to leave here this morning.
Someone else once woke up with plans for the day—thinking that everything was going to go as planned—and his name was Job. He got up one day expecting the usual, and by the time the day was over—
—everything in his life had changed. I used to not be a fan of Job, but I have really come to appreciate so much about this man and what he did and his response.
His response, at the end of his day, when he had learned that everything in his life had been taken away and ruined—all his children, all his livelihood, all his stock, his animals, everything was gone—“He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.” He did not blame God.
The thing that I find remarkable about this is that he said, “The LORD has taken away.” He didn’t say, “Satan has taken away.” He knew that God was ultimately in control—God was in charge—God was sovereign. God was the One who took all of that away, and he worshipped and praised Him.
Even though it hurt and he didn’t like it—he praised God—because he knew God had good in mind.
I want that to be my response. When I read those verses—when I read what Job said, I want that to be my response when hard things come in my life. I don’t mean to frighten any of you with this, because I used to be frightened by Job’s story. I didn’t want to read it. Kind of like the disciples, I didn’t want to get close because I didn’t want any of that to happen to me. I didn’t like his story. I didn’t like reading about calamity and hard things, because I didn’t want to be touched by it. I wanted to be comfortable and I wanted to be pain-free in my life.
I’m not intending to frighten you. I don’t want anyone to walk out of here scared to death about the shoe dropping or whatever. But what I do want you to see is that when the day of calamity does come, He will be enough for you in that day.
He has been enough for me in a lot of calamities in my life, and I have learned that He is enough, and that’s the most important thing for you to take away from here today, is that there will be hard times.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Jesus doesn’t lie. There are hard things, and He wants us to know that He will be enough—no matter what He brings our way. If He is enough for the day of calamity, He will be enough for my today—for my next hour, for this afternoon, for tonight—He will be enough for today.
So my question for you is: Will you choose to believe that He is always acting with good and loving purposes for you? Will you see Him as He really is—not as you want Him to be? That was a big adjustment for me, because I wanted God to be a certain way. I wanted Him to be safe—
—and when I began to see that He isn’t always safe it was good for me to see God as He really is.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to part two of a message from Barbara Rainey about God being enough in our lives. It’s one thing to trust God when the storm has passed and to say, “You know what? God saw me through that and He can be trusted.” But when the wind is blowing and the rain is beating on the roof, there are times when we go, “God, are You here? Do You care?” We wonder; don’t we?
Dennis: We do. I just want to go somebody else who talked about the rain and the wind. It’s Jesus—in Matthew 7:24. If this is where you are right now in the present—where Barbara was talking about—I want you to listen to what this might say to you, because these are the words of the Creator of the universe—Jesus Christ.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds—” yes, that’s the winds Bob was talking about “—the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
I think the instruction of Christ is here, whatever you’re facing—look outside the window, and if it’s pouring outside, if the wind’s pounding, if the floods are bursting against the house, it’s going to reveal what your house has been built on.
Hearing the words of Christ and doing them—being a wise person, not a fool—don’t be a fool and give up on God in the present.
Bob: Okay, you have built your house on the rock—but you still experience anxiety.
Dennis: Oh, yes. In fact—as you said that it’s like, yes, you can build your house on the rock—but that doesn’t make you exempt from feeling it when the storms hit.
Bob: So, in those moments when there is fear—when you are anxious—how do you counsel your own heart in those moments?
Dennis: I wish I could tell you I counsel my own heart perfectly. Sometimes it takes Barbara to come alongside me and remind me of the Truth. More than once in the past six months she’s kind of come alongside me and just said, “Hey, God’s not done with us—not done with you.”
I think there are some spouses who need to realize the power of their words to remind their spouse of the truth.
Dennis: Your words can counsel—as Bob was talking about—counsel your soul—and on the other hand, you also can counsel your own soul. You can remind yourself of the truth. Has God said He’s going to abandon you? No, He said He’d be with you, even to the end of the age. His presence will go with you. He has a plan. Ephesians 2:10, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That’s a pretty profound promise for the present.
Bob: Well, and I think, in the middle of the storm, are you going to look at the weather radar or are you going to look at the One who controls the weather; right? That’s the point of Barbara’s message.
By the way, if our listeners have missed any part of the message and they’d like to listen to it in its entirety, we have the audio file online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download the message in its entirety. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
We also have a link to Barbara’s Ever Thine Home website with her blog and with other information about all that she is up to. You’ll find that online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me also mention that Dennis and Barbara have just finished a new book called The Art of Parenting. It’s a companion to the video series that we have produced that a lot of churches have started to use—a lot of small groups are planning to use this fall. The book has not arrived from the publisher yet, but if you can help us with a donation during the month of August we will put you at the front of the list—we’ll get you a copy of the book as soon as it arrives. You’ll be among the first to get this brand new book from Dennis and Barbara.
The month of August is a particularly good month to help with a donation, because we’ve had a friend of the ministry who has offered to match every donation we receive here at the end of summer with an equal donation of his own, up to a total of 500,000 dollars. We hope to take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity—
—and we hope to send out a lot of Art of Parenting books to FamilyLife Today listeners. So, would you consider making a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com? Or call to donate: 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or, request Dennis and Barbara’s new book when you mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas. Our zip code is 72223.
If you’d like more information about the Art of Parenting™ video series or the online course that we’ve created or about how your church can use the movie “Like Arrows” as a kickoff event to launch Art of Parenting small groups or classes, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—or give us a call at 1-800-FL-TODAY.
And the last thing, don’t forget to sign up to receive the daily prayer prompts we are sending out as a back-to-school 30-day Parenting Prayer Challenge. We will send you a prayer prompt every day for 30 days with specific things you can be praying for your children as they head back to elementary school or junior high, high school, college. Maybe you’re grandparents and you’d like to be praying for your grandchildren. This prayer prompt works for you as well. Sign up—it’s free. You’ll find it online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
And be sure to be back with us again tomorrow, when we’ll hear more from Barbara Rainey about the sufficiency of Christ for our lives. Hope you can be with us for that.
Thanks to our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. Have a great day. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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