One of the things I think many of us struggle with is that we believe God changes His mind, and not to our advantage. We hear a promise, decipher it according to our liking, and then eagerly await its fulfillment. Sadly things rarely work out quite that neatly. Unfortunately it tends to taint our view of God.
What's worse is we seem to struggle with what appear to be contradictions. Job says God gives and takes away, but if God doesn't change His mind, how do we reconcile a status difference?
I do not have some deeply theological answer, but I do have life expereince, and this is what I have discovered.
Sometimes God gives something because at that moment it is truly what's best. Then when it's no longer best, we experience a blessed subtraction, or what Jesus refers to as pruning. The problem is we tend to be creatures of habit and we don't always adapt well to the new normal. Truth be told, most of us hate it. Having just finished an incredible book all about lament, I now realize that those differences should be taken directly to God instead of just stuffing it all down and moving on which creates the perfect environment for a bitter root to grow. There is no Scripture that says get over it, but there are numerous invitations to come to, or return to, God for help. There is a reason for that.
But I think what's most helpful is to take a look at Jesus' words and really contemplate them. Because as much as He might have looked like us (human form), He certainly did not act like us.
John 14:27 (CSB) says Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don't let your heart be troubled or fearful. (emphasis mine)
I don't know how many times I have heard or read that verse over the years, but I can tell you that it fell fresh this morning.
Numbers 23:19 (CSB) says God is not a man, that He might lie, or a son of man, that He might change His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill? While all of this might seem unrelated, there is a story in Luke that ties it all together.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus heals ten lepers. (the story is linked for you to read if you don't have your Bible handy) Anyway, only one of them turns back to say thank you and glorify God. And yes, Jesus does ask the one where the other nine are. Now, we can reasonably assume they continued on their trek to the priests to show themselves because that's what Jesus told them to do. However, there is something significant that I think we have been missing. Even though only one turned back to say thank you, they all remained healed.
I truly believe that with our human nature, particularly the nature of a woman, we have a tendency to believe we earn things based on our performance. And if it wasn't our performance that earned it, then it will be our performance that maintains it. But this story clearly indicates that's not the case. What God gives us is not dependent upon what we do or say before, during, or after receipt of said gift. He does it because He wants to. He gives unconditionally, no strings attached. And honestly, I think that's why Jesus ended His statement with not allowing our hearts be troubled or fearful. We believe we will lose things based on our response. However, that is a works based theology and we know how far that gets us.
I don't know about you, but I am really tired of feeling like I have to try so hard all the time. I believe many of us put such unrealistic expectations upon ourselves because we truly think our worth and value to others is based on what we do for them instead of just being ourselves and loving them to the best of our ability and worse yet, misapply this to God. And here's a cold, hard truth: If anyone only loves us for what we do for them, that is not a relationship. That is an unhealthy contractual agreement that can be broken at any time by either party, including us.
My hope and prayer is that we will begin to see all the things we have been given for the season we are in as a gift. A gift meant to draw us ever closer to the heart of Jesus. And then, when that season comes to an end, we will turn to Him for comfort in our loss knowing it was for our best, and that in due time, something even more beautiful will come our way. God doesn't change like shifting shadows (James 1:17) and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5). He is good all the time. Let's choose to believe that every day.