Leaving it to His Secret Counsel

Does believing God mean believing every thing is always going to go exactly the way you want?

For example, we are praying for a church building.

Does believing God mean that we think we’ll get a church building this year?

Are we doubting if we are not sure?

Sometimes you can get yourself in a little trouble by looking to certain Old Testament stories for principles, but let’s at least think for a moment about Joab and the Ammonites. In 2 Samuel 10, Joab is warring against the Ammonites and the Syrians, and as the battle is raging, he says to his brother, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.”

He’s confident, but not certain.

Is this faith, or a lack of it?

I think John Calvin’s comments help. He writes,

“If someone claims that Joab did not show that he trusted in God, that he was not thoroughly assured of the promises of the Law, the reply to that is that God does not give particular promises about this or that to his children. We certainly have this point which should firmly persuade us that God will never abandon us, and that in the end he will show that our hope in him was not in vain, so that our faith will not be frustrated when it rests upon his mercy and his truth. Nevertheless, we must remain in suspense about many things. For instance, when we ask God for our daily bread, it is not that we are assured he will send us a good harvest or a great vintage. When we have any illness, we must rest well assured that he has not forgotten us, and that we have success access to him that, in the end we will feel that he has looked upon us in pity. The promise of God should be fully sufficient in regards to that. However, when we would like to have the word that today or tomorrow he will restore our health, we do not know – we are even in doubt of living or dying.”

Joab couldn’t be assured what God would do with the Ammonites, because he didn’t have a specific promise about that.

“We see,” Calvin goes on to say, “therefore, that Joab’s uncertainty was not lack of faith, for we can certainly doubt, although we embrace the promises of God and hold them as absolutely certain and infallible. What we doubt are the things which are not clear to us. That is how he wants us to remain in suspense about many things and to leave it all to his secret counsel and his providence.”


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