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How are you supposed to get things right when the odds are stacked against you?

God desires those who do things wrong to turn from their life of wrongdoing (see "If God can do anything, why was the cross needed?"). Jesus lived a sinless life, completely fulfilling the requirements of the Law of God, and in doing so He completely understands our own predicament in attempting do do things right against the odds:

Hebrews 4:14-16

"...since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens / gone into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

So, Jesus has already been though the mill, just like we do. He has won through and is therefore able to know completely what it's like.

Now, if He was dead (i.e. there had been no resurrection after He was crucified, see "Why did Jesus need to be resurrected") we would have no hope in facing the trials of life. However, He is alive and the same power that raised Christ from the dead is there to pull us through life's scrapes.

A child never learns to walk if it is always held upright by a parental hand. The child must learn to balance for itself and, when it does go down, with a BUMP!, onto it's padded rear end it will learn from the experience especially if the parent is there to soothe away the pain and help to show how to do things better for the next attempt.

Or, to take a different analogy, to get fit we must exercise to push our body through its "pain barrier" and thus stretch the muscles we are attempting to build.Human character must similarly be stretched (and receive it's own knocks) to grow. This happens best under controlled circumstances with a loving "parent" looking on, encouraging and picking us up again when things don't go exactly as planned. A loving parent often has to allow the odd bump as a learning experience.

So, it may seem like the end of the world to a baby who took a whole two steps before falling down again (knocking wooden building bricks flying in all directions and startling the family cat) but tell them in six years time and they will laugh. The aid is there at the right times.

The odds are stacked against us if we are on our own trying to do something that requires the aid of God. If we go through with an attitude of wanting to please (like baby wanting to walk - you don't shout at them or beat them with a stick if they go down with a bump...) and a willingness to listen for God's answers, He will pull out the stops and help us get through.

Jesus claims were validated by His resurrection and His word is trustworthy. It was He who told us to trust God and in His power. He demonstrated that NOTHING is impossible for Him. No odds can stand against Him and it says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"The apostle Paul reflected this comment when he wrote "I can do everything through Him [God] who strengthens me."

Our willingness to want to do things right and to please demonstrates that when we can't manage something it isn't deliberate - it's not a case of wilful disobedience on our part. In that case, the willingness to keep trying [to want to get things right] says to God, "How should I do it better next time? Please forgive me for messing up this time and please guide me though this thing! "Don't worry, it might take several attempts.

When God told Samuel to find David and anoint him as king of Israel, Samuel couldn't believe that Eliab wasn't to be the one. God told Samuel plainly,

1 Samuel 16:7

"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

This appears to be a direct answer to Samuel asking God a direct question, "Lord, is this one the future king?", an answer along the lines of, "Nope, his attitudes aren't right for the job. I need someone made of sterner stuff."

God looks at the heart of us, the center of our thinking, the very deepest part of our psyche that determines whether we simply be seen to be doing the right things or, deep down we really do want to do the right thing but occasionally slip up. So often, our appearance isn't right when our attitudes are or vice-versa.

The odds are for us because God is for us, it's just plain difficult to see Him and His guidance when the rest of life is crowding us in!


Paul Hawke