ANDREW D. URSHAN
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:8-10).
Through the years, we have heard I preaching and teaching about the right hand or power of God, causing us to believe that God’s dealings with us will mostly be right-handed or positive toward our wants and desires. Yet in Job’s adverse circumstances and search for God he did not find God before him, behind him, or “on the right hand.” Nevertheless, he expressed an assurance that a work definitely was happening “on the left “hand” of God.
There is no doubt about God’s power and ability, for Scripture plainly declares that there is nothing impossible with God. The Bible teaches us: “All things are possible for him that believeth” (Mark 9:23); If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14); “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). Concerning sickness, the Scriptures
assure us that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5); “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16:18).
Both preachers and laity look to those positive promises in our regard and often quote them, yet these verses alone do not make up the total teaching of Scripture regarding faith, nor do they always supply
answers to life’s questions. When a pastor lays hands on the sick and prays the “prayer of faith” and the sick person does not recover, does it mean that either he or the sick person did not have enough faith?
Could a lack of faith be the reason that many great men of God and many strong, faithful saints were not healed even though the people of God prayed earnestly for them?
On a personal front, what about my sister, who died of cancer, and my grandmother, a precious saint of God, who suffered and died? Was a lack of faith really the reason they died? There are many other
examples of people who had strong faith in God and had witnessed miracles being accomplished in their lives and in others, yet at some point they were not healed.
Due to a lack of scriptural understanding about God’s “perfect” dealings with us, these supposed failures of God’s promises have eroded some people’s faith, causing some of them to eventually turn away from
God. They heard only a “right-handed” concept of God, but God also works on the left hand.
Are we willing to praise and glorify God only as long as He fits our formal of human reason, of how we think situations should turn out? Should we question His faithfulness and His integrity, in essence
pulling Him off the throne as God, by our distorted perception and self-serving interest? Is not God sovereign to do as He perceives best even if it does not harmonize with our wishes? Does not the Bible
teach us to humble ourselves before almighty God and accept His ways?
“Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?” (Isaiah 45:9). Paul wrote the answer for us: “Nay but, 0 man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that
formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:20-21).
We must remember that God is the creator of all and the giver of all life. He is the “Creator of the ends of the earth … there is no searching of his understanding” (Isaiah 40:28). He informs us that His thoughts “are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul reflects thoughts from several Old Testament verses in a passage that includes God’s judgments and ways: “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33).
We tend to view situations from our earthly, temporal perspective, but God views them and deals with them eternally. What is more important-the healing of our temporal body or the salvation of our eternal souls? God views the saving of the soul to be supremely more important than the health of the body. He may therefore allow suffering for many reasons unseen by us, reasons that work for our eternal good but may not be understood by us in our earthly circumstances.
The Bible teaches us that God is not willing that any should perish eternally (II Peter 3:9); but it does not say that God is not willing for any of us to be sick. In Mark 2 Jesus forgave the man of his sins first and then healed him of palsy not only to prove that He was God but also to remind us that the most important issue is salvation, not healing. In Luke 10, Jesus indicated to His disciples that our greatest joy shall be that our names are written in heaven. Everything else is a temporal matter; salvation is our forever well being.
To contend that it is not God’s will for any saint to be sick or for adversity to strike our lives fails to consider God’s will in the light of all the Scriptures. True faith is not placed in events but in God:
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (I John 5:14). Even though we will pray for healing, for relief from problems, and for blessings
in life, yet we must also consider and submit to the will of God in every situation; it may be His will to heal, to remove a problem from us; or it may not be. Faith is simply accepting Him as the master who
knows best what should happen in each situation.
This does not mean that we should not believe God for healing or question God’s ability to heal. In Matthew 8 a leper said, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus answered, “I will; be thou
clean.” The leper did not raise a question of God’s ability, but of His will. Not knowing God’s will for a situation must not keep us from praying. James wrote, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).
We must therefore ask, believing that God is able, trusting Him to do the best thing for us. We also need to remember biblical examples where the will of God was changed by the effectual, fervent prayers of
righteous people such as Moses and Hezekiah.
Jesus said, “Every one that asketh receiveth” (Luke I 1: IO). This does not mean that we are to ask only once, but rather we are to continue asking. Jesus told the story of the unjust judge who avenged
the widow because she continued to trouble him in order to teach us that we are to keep asking Him for our needs (Luke I 8: 1). He concluded this lesson with a question: “Shall not God avenge his own
elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with, them?” (Luke 18:7). The answer is yes. We are to pray and ask for a response of whatever God chooses to do; and we are to be grateful and
trust that His will be done whether or not we understand His response?
God’s ways are true, and His judgments are righteous: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and righteous is he’ (Deuteronomy 32:4). God makes no mistakes; He sees the end from the beginning. On the other hand, we are limited, having an awareness of the present and a memory for the past, but lacking foreknowledge of the future. God reserved our unknown for the exercise of faith, an unconditional faith that no matter what, we will trust Him. Our trust in Him is not to fade, falter, or fail when situations do not appeal to our reason.
Job set an example of genuine faith in God by accepting both God’s gifts and God’s taking: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job trusted God in a time of adversity. The three Hebrew children set another example for faith in God, not basing their faith in deliverance but in God: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…. But if not … we will not serve thy gods” (Daniel 3:17-18). Abraham considered the sacrifice of his son Isaac to be “worship” unto the Lord, for his faith looked beyond the sacrifice to God (Hebrews II: 17-19). Job, the three Hebrew men, and Abraham all trusted God unconditionally! Whether God was taking instead of giving, whether He was to deliver or to allow them to die, whether or not sacrifice was ordained for the moment, their lives and worship would give Him complete glory.
Trials and tests often bring deeper revelations of the greatness of God than moments of ease and plenty. In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples were first filled with fear before Jesus revealed to them “what manner of
man” He really was. God did not reveal His presence to the three Hebrew men until they stepped into the fire; and Job’s trial opened a new revelation of God to him. When the clouds roll in and the heavens
become brass, a person may be approaching a greater understanding of God’s being and ways.
Job trusted God enough to say, “He knoweth the way that I take: and when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). God speaks to us of trials through the Book of Isaiah: “Behold, I have
refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48: 10). The psalmist wrote of the value of suffering: “Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).
While we are usually content on the “right hand” side of situations, God occasionally sees it necessary to place us in the hollow of His left hand, on a different side of circumstances. On God’s left hand, we are no less shielded, protected, or undergirded, and no further from God than we were in His right hand. The left hand of God may not be delightful, but it is the cleansing side, sifting side, purging side,
and perfecting side: it prompts us to be more like Him.
The words of the psalmist should guide us: “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word…. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 1 19:67-7
1). If a person truly trusts God, adversity will draw him nearer to God and bring an increase to his faith. On the other hand, for a person without an unconditional trust in God, adversity may lead to doubt, confusion, and bitterness, which could ultimately destroy his relationship with God.
The great chapter on faith, Hebrews 11, gives a correct perspective of faith. Patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses accomplished great things in God, yet these people did not exceed the
accomplishments of the “others” in verses 35 and 36. Here are references to people who were tortured, cruelly mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword,
wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Of these “other” people it is written that the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38). Their faith was so unconditional that they
accepted no deliverance so “that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35). These unnamed men and women not only believed and trusted the power of the right hand of God but also had
complete faith and trust in “the left hand where he doth work.”
As the coming of the Lord approaches, it is needful for us to cleanse ourselves of all skepticism toward God. Let us acknowledge that “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the
Lord -is sure making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for
ever: the judgments of -the Lord are true and righteous altogether, (Psalm 19:7-9). God works both on His right hand and on His left hand.
Brother Urshan is a minister in the United Pentecostal Church International He is presently Insurance Manager at World Evangelism Center.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED IN THE AUGUST 1995 OF THE PENTECOSTAL HERALD, AND WAS WRITTEN BY ANDREW URSHAN. THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR RESEARCH AND STUDY PURPOSES ONLY.