God Can’t Fix You
God can’t fix you. Ok, perhaps a better way to say it is that God isn’t interested in fixing you. I realize that might sound strange to but please hear me out. Clearly, God promises to deliver us (Col 1:13-14) and to give us life (John 10:10). Some have even suggested that God has a “wonderful plan” for our lives. However, most frequently we interpret these ideas of deliverance and life and plans on our own terms rather than God’s terms.
A simple survey of our lives should create enough cognitive dissonance to prod us in the direction of reexamining our presuppositions about the nature of how God is present in our lives. He simply doesn’t “fix” all the areas of discomfort and pain and suffering in our lives and the lives of those we love. We lose parents to cancer and suffer with chronic illnesses. We suffer the loss of friends and often feel a sense of loneliness no matter how many people are around us.
For some, the solution is believed to be more prayer or trust or obedience. The argument goes like this: “if I just have enough faith, then God will bless me.” Or, “if I live purely before Him, things will go well in my life.” The problem with this kind of thinking is it is based more on “magic” than the reality of who God is.
To be sure, we all want magic. We’d love to have the formula to make pain go away and live happily ever after. Just as Blanche said in A Streetcar Named Desire, “I don’t want realism, I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people, I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.” Part of the allure of “magic” is that it puts us in control but in our pursuit of magic, we have to deny reality. And, it is in that denial that we isolate ourselves from what we truly desire and need.
Reality is that God doesn’t usually fix things (at least not on our terms). In John 11, Jesus is alerted to the fact that His friend Lazarus is ill and instead of running quickly to fix the situation, he waited and took His time to get to his friend. In the interim, Lazarus died and his sister Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Of course, if you know the rest of the story, you realize that Jesus resurrected Lazarus. It is important not to skip too quickly to the resurrection part because it is in Jesus’ waiting that we are alerted to the fact that God is not a “fix it” man. He does bring healing and renewal and restoration that is complete but what is the nature of that resurrection?
Larry Crabb astutely made the observation, “If God was committed to my comfort, He’s not doing a very good job. Maybe He’s committed to something else.” When we consider the nature of the resurrection, we see that God is committed to restoration of our relationship with Him … that loving, dependent fellowship that we have with the Trinity. In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed that we would know “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” (vv. 19-20) God is committed to us knowing resurrection power and what is the nature or teleological end of that power? It is loving, intimate fellowship with God.
And so, our pain and “unfixed” life situations should alert us to the idea that God has purposes deeper and more significant than giving us lives that are comfortable and without distress. Whether it is physical pain, relational hurt, or spiritual temptation, it seems clear that hurts and weaknesses can not only lead us into God’s purposes but also be necessary for what He has in mind.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Job is presented as a blameless, God fearing man, and God allowed Him to be afflicted and tempted. In the New Testament Scriptures, Paul was afflicted with a “thorn” and God refused to take it away after a season of prayer. In his refusal, God shares what He’s committed to: “My grace is sufficient.” God desires for us to be in a love relationship with Himself and if he takes away all the pain, we’ll seemingly have no need for Him. Years ago, a family friend gave our family a framed statement that she found on her father’s desk upon his death:
“When we are helpless to change the unchangeable,
this is the hour that God in His promise becomes so real.
I’m always reminded that if we could control life and death,
seemingly we would have no need of Him.
May His presence guide you in these hours and days ahead.”
One of the most difficult areas of exploration is the area of lingering temptation and sin in our lives. We might ask: why can’t God just take all of this sinfulness away once and for all? In her book Extravagant Grace, Barbara Duguid puts it this way:
“God thinks that you will actually come to know and love him better as a desperate and weak sinner in continual need of grace than you would as a triumphant Christian warrior who wins each and every battle against sin. If the job of the Holy Spirit is to make you more humble and dependent on Christ, more grateful for his sacrifice and more adoring of him as a wonderful Savior, then he might be doing a very, very good job even though you still sin every day.”
So, God doesn’t “fix” us but He graciously extends resurrection power that enables us to do life with Him. We are able to walk through any storm or hurt or temptation or trial because He is with us, reminding us that His grace is sufficient.
Quite frequently, we get derailed because it is not the voice of love we hear but the voices of entitlement and pride. Henri Nouwen reminds us: “Only by constantly attending to the inner voice can you be converted to a new life of freedom and joy.” (The Inner Voice of Love) We must ruthlessly and consistently eliminate messages that suggest anything other than the truth that God is absolutely, passionately, intimately in love with us and that He is present.
A few years before he left this earth, Brennan Manning beautifully suggested the following: “I am utterly convinced that on the judgement day, the Lord Jesus is going to ask us one question and only one question: did you believe that I loved you? that I desired you? that I waited for you day after day? that I longed to hear the sound of your voice?”
Are you listening for His voice of love (that His grace is sufficient) or are you still listening to the voices of comfort and accomplishment and success and appreciation?
The voice to which we listen shapes our expectations and desires. Let Him shape your heart and mind! Today, spend a few moments attending to His voice of love. Let Him speak His words of love over you (Zephaniah 3:17). Simply select a verse or phrase from Scripture which speaks of His desire for you and sit with that verse for 10 minutes … reflect on it, meditate on it, talk to God about it … as your mind drifts, simply come back to that verse or phrase.
So, fix us? No. Restore us into a deep, abiding relationship with Himself? Yes. Don’t ask Him to “fix” you, ask Him to draw you ever closer to His heart! If taking away a hurt or an illness or a temptation can best accomplish that purpose, He’ll do it, but don’t ever mistake His intention for you or forget how He longs to know and love you.