Just when we think we have God figured out, He does the unexpected. This is what happened in the historical account of Abraham and Lot. When Abraham was childless, God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. One year before Isaac was born, the Lord visited Abraham to announce the timing of Isaac’s arrival. God combined this visit with His purpose to put an end to the evil practiced by two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, information He shared with Abraham. Lot had moved away from Abraham to the best, fertile part of the land, Sodom, when their combined possessions exceeded what the land could support. So, Abraham sought to protect Lot by asking God how many righteous people would be necessary to spare the cities from destruction. In the end, only Lot’s immediate family qualified to be saved.
Most of us in a similar situation with family members would attempt to intervene as Abraham did: “Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) Because of God’s relationship with Abraham, He sent angels to usher out Lot, His wife, and two daughters with the men they were engaged to marry. But God’s actions to spare Lot set a series of drastic events into motion. The family of six was reduced to three when the men refused to leave the city, and Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt for the disobedience of looking back as they were fleeing. The great wealth that caused Lot to part with Abraham was completely incinerated, leaving him nothing. Lot lived in isolation for years with his two daughters who resorted to getting their father drunk so that he would impregnate them. The sons of this incest became the fathers of two nations of people that would continually be at enmity with Isaac’s descendants. What appeared to be a righteous request was tragic in consequences for hundreds of years.
God knew this would happen, but His love and grace for Abraham allowed it. Abraham could not have understood this sequence of future events and would have likely mistaken God’s actions as harsh and evil. God’s covenant promise to Abraham overruled the consequences.
How many times have we misunderstood God when a prayer we considered totally righteous went unanswered, or was conversely answered with terrible unforeseen results? In a personal financial hardship, God did not answer prayer for specific provision, but taught us that having Him was having all we needed. Prayer for healing my sister’s cancer was answered by initial remission of the disease, only to be followed by painful metastasis that ended her life. Unknown to me, God was giving her the opportunity to shore up her relationship with Him. I have witnessed marriages that God arranged and blessed be plagued with everything from contempt to infidelity. Some were healed and others were not, but at the center of both was the option to trust God implicitly for direction and outcome. For all who have prayed for the return of adult children who have rejected God, He still has a plan to use them powerfully for His Kingdom once their education is complete.
These types of things are hard to walk through and hard to watch. So, when confronted with Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” we have the choice to reject it based on what we see or receive it as Truth in spite of what seems obvious. Man’s knowledge will always be limited. However, there is One perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16) Who literally loves us to death. That means when we can’t understand what God is doing, we can trust His heart.