Many skeptics of the gospel often argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering. I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old question: if God is good why does He allow evil and suffering? The dual expression of God’s nature is one that will confound our natural mind. God created darkness (Isa. 45:7) but “in Him is no darkness”(1 Joh. 1:5). God is love yet God also hates (Rom. 9:13; Prov. 6:16). Love is patient yet we read of God’s anger (Isa. 9:8). God is not self-seeking, yet God gets jealous (Exo. 20:5), God is merciful but we read of God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18). Although Jesus declared: “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Joh. 10:10), He also states: “For judgment I have come into this world” (Joh. 9:39). He is the Prince of Peace yet He declares: “think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Mat. 10:34).
We all tend to reduce God and his character to our own personal opinion of Him. And we often search for logical justifications to settle contradictory scriptures or circumstances in our life which don’t align with the concepts of God we espouse. Some of us have prayed for months and years to have God fix negative conditions in our lives with little results. We have been so ingrained with the positive aspects of God’s love that we rarely consider hardship, tribulation, sicknesses, lack to be part of God’s divine will. Yet throughout scripture we see two sides of our Father’s hand expressed.
I was recently engaged in a discussion with a minister who wrote: “God does not bring tribulation on us any more than you inflict trouble on your own children”. Contrary to popular belief, you will find that such a notion runs contrary to the word of God. Those of us who have grown up with a loving father can attest to the positive effect his discipline has had in our life. Perhaps it was only when we came of age that we began to appreciate our father’s dealing in the days of our youth. But, how many of us have come to know and appreciate the manifold dealings of the left hand of God in our life?
The dual workings of the Father’s right and left hand were manifested by our Lord Jesus. One the one hand, He manifested the kindness, empathy and unwavering compassion and mercy of the Father. On the other, He revealed the Father’s corrective judgment, rebuke, purging and various dealings. To the church in Thyatira, Jesus declares: “I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:22). The one in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily manifested a balanced love – two sides of Father’s love, which accurately expressed God’s nature.
Most of us have only been captivated by one facet of God’s love. We have been fed an imbalanced gospel that overemphasizes the seemingly favorable aspect of God’s love. What do we observe in a child that is spoiled? Children that have been overindulged by their parents are likely to exhibit behavioral problems including self-centeredness and disobedience. They are likely to whine, beg, or manipulate their parents and are prone to crying or throwing tantrums when they don’t get their way. I believe the spiritual effects of an imbalanced gospel are similar. Those who have been overindulged with God’s goodness in the absence of God’s dealings of the left hand are likely to experience shortcomings in their maturity. Rest assured it is from this basis that the prosperity gospel and the utilitarian Christianity of the 21st century has sprung forth. Dear saint, if all you read and hear about is God’s love that always comforts, always blesses, always protects, always heals, always delivers… then you are not being dealt with as a son.
If we want to know the Father, be acquainted with His heart, be single with His mind, and possess His nature, then we all need to partake of the dealings of both hands of our Father. Just as our natural fathers loved and disciplined us, so does our heavenly Father. The author of the Hebrew writes: “we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be PARTAKERS of HIS HOLINESS” (Heb. 12:9). Dear saint, have you attained to the measure of the stature of Christ? Have you become the embodiment of His holiness? If not, there is much chastening, much proving and much dealing that God needs to take you through. For “we must through much tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Even Jesus Christ was proven and learned obedience from what He suffered (Heb. 5:8). How much more we?
To those who only want the goodness and blessing of God without His dealings, I say again there is another dimension of God without which His fatherhood would be flawed. To escape, downplay or altogether dismiss this aspect of God would be to paint a picture of a fragmented God – an unfit Father. Yet this is what the church system has done. But, rest assured that “if you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have been partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons” (Heb. 12:8-9).
In light of this, we should recognize that the various so-called contradiction of God’s character relayed in scripture are not contradictory but rather counter-balancing. They are the mutual workings of the Father’s right and left hands which together achieve His divine purpose. Both are motivated by His love, for God is love, but nowhere do we read that God is hate. If we truly believe that God is love and that He is immutable, then all His workings, whether expressed in hate, judgment, anger, or wrath, must emanates from that nature.
These manifold works of the left hand of God have a divine purpose. They work correction, pruning, purging, discipline and obedience in us. We see this work of God’s left hand manifested in the life of Paul. God had blessed Paul with great revelations. But with much revelation comes pride. So, God saw it fit to deal with Paul by allowing Satan to buffet him. Thus, Paul writes: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor. 12:6-8).
Paul understood two things; first, he knew that the sovereign Lord was in absolute control of every aspect of His life – good and bad. Second, he learned that there was a divine purpose for which he was going through these hardships. Consequently, he submitted to God’s will and rejoiced saying: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). This is indeed the mark of an overcome.
How we have lost this quality of life in contemporary Christendom. Many today want God’s right hand of blessing, favor, increase, victory, breakthrough but how many of us are willing to become weak and partake in infirmities, reproaches, distress and persecutions? How many of us will no longer hide behind verses we mechanically recite without knowing the will of God in a matter? How many of us are willing to identify with Paul in our readiness to partake in the “fellowship of His suffering” and to be “conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10)? How many of us will allow the dealing of God’s left hand to have its effectual working in us? God help us in this matter.
Rest assured dear saint that the dealing of God’s left hand is not just for the unbeliever. It is also reserved for His sons and is intended to bring us to the same place which Paul came to – a denial of the self-life and an absolute devotion and single-mindedness toward Christ. As we obediently partake in the work of God’s left hand, then we too will begin to count as loss all things for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus that we may gain Christ and be found in Him.
Those who have received the call to sonship will have to embrace the workings of Father’s left hand knowing that it is energized and motivated by the unconditional love of the Father towards us. How foolish this may seem even to some who profess the Lord’s name. But, we praise God that the foolishness of the gospel we preach has caused us to be caught up to the heights of God’s holy mountain to experience inexplicable things too wonderful for us to utter. Oh the depts of the mystery of God, how unsearchable are His ways.
Dear saint, the Lord knows how to deal with each of us. He will draw you, embrace you with His compassionate love, deliver, encourage and comfort you. But He also knows how to deal with you firmly to correct you and prove you. In all this, your earthly comfort is not His prerogative but to bring forth Christ in you. If the Lord sees it fit to stretch forth His left hand toward you today, I pray you will know that it will work to achieve His divine purpose in your life so that out of Zion may shine forth the perfection of beauty. Amen!