Why Follow God - Part 1
Satan wonders why anyone would choose to serve God. This is clear when we hear his thoughts about Job. “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face” (Job 1:9-11). In Satan’s mind, Job would only serve God if it was beneficial. Was Satan right? Clearly, he wasn’t about Job, but what about you and me? Will we serve God if there does not seem to be any benefit? Take the question further. Will we trust and obey God if we are being treated unfairly and if God seems to be unjust?
Sometimes God is difficult to accept. People today may blame Him for pain they go through. They may shout that life is unfair and God is not worth following. The challenge of accepting God for who He is and what He does is not a new one.
Imagine being Isaac (Gen. 22:1-14). How easy would it be for you to dedicate your life to serving and trusting God if, as a youth, you distinctly remember how God commanded your father to kill you. I doubt Isaac ever forgot what it was like to be lying on a wooden altar and looking up at the knife tightly gripped by his father. Would you follow a God who commanded such a thing? Would you be able to trust Him?
Imagine being Ishmael, Abraham’s firstborn son (Gen. 21:9-19). He should have received a bountiful inheritance from Abraham, but he didn’t. God snatched Ishmael’s birthright from him and gave it to his brother. Worse, Abraham exiled Ishmael and his mother into an unforgiving wilderness with only some bread and a little water. They nearly died. What a deplorable thing for a father to do, right? It wasn’t Abraham’s idea though. God is the one who told him to do it. If you were Ishmael and you learned that God had approved of this action, would you still trust and obey God?
Abraham had six other sons besides Ishmael and Isaac (Gen. 25:1-10). These young men would essentially be disowned and sent far away from their family with only parting gifts. Their sin? They weren’t Isaac. God had picked Isaac for the blessings, not them. When Abraham died, these sons apparently did not come back to bury their father. Maybe you wouldn’t blame them for that. But wasn’t this all God’s plan? Isn’t He the one to blame? Imagine you were one of these sons of Abraham. Would you still trust and obey God?
There is a desperate and troubled mother in the New Testament who comes to Jesus for help regarding her cruelly demon-possessed daughter (Mt. 15:21-28). At first, Jesus refused to help, saying, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” This mother could have stormed off, insulted that she and her daughter had been compared to dogs. Why follow Jesus if He refused to help and also made such a demeaning comparison? Would you still follow Jesus if He did that to you?
Many people in the world are troubled by what God allows. They are troubled by what God commands. Some say that they will not follow a God who would send people to hell. Some won’t follow a God who has allowed there to be so much evil, so much pain, so much death in this world. For such individuals, Satan is right. They will only follow God if He makes it worth their while. They will only follow God if everything makes sense to them and if God meets with their approval. They have seated themselves as God’s judges. He, it seems, must answer to them.
Job has set the example for us. He showed that we can follow God under any circumstances, even ones where it seems like following God is punished rather than rewarded. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b).
What about you? Will you follow God no matter what?