Does God Always Work the Same Way?

by Joan C Webb on July 7, 2011

cookie cutter imageGod doesn’t use a cookie-cutter method to produce good in people’s lives. Sometimes we put God in a box, making declarations like, “God healed me this way; He’ll do it the same way for you” or “Here’s how He helped me choose a partner; just wait—God will work this way for you, too” or “Here’s the Bible-study plan I use; you should, also.”

With the Egyptians hot on the heels of the liberated Israelite people, God changed His protective tactics. For days, God’s angel had effectively led them from the front of the ranks. But now God moved the angel to the rear. As a result, the approaching Egyptians couldn’t see the Israelites and Moses guided the people safely across the Red Sea. (Read Exodus 14:19-20.)

This is a story of how God altered the way He had worked previously in the lives of the people he loved. He just might do the same thing with you. He has all the diverse resources in the universe at His command. Even though He may have never moved in a specific way before, you need not panic; God knows how to protect you and to grace you with what you need to grow and mature.

You want to join me in prayer right now: Lord, sometimes You work as You have before; other times, You surprise me. I don’t have every answer, so I’ll step aside. Do Your job in Your way.

Your turn: When has God surprised you by the different approach He used to bring about good results in your life or the life of someone you love?

Adapted from a devotional in my book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MaryL July 13, 2011 at 10:38 am

I find it one of the wonderful ironies of life in just how unexpectedly God answers our prayers. It shouldn’t surprise me after all, think of the different ways that Jesus healed blindness in the Bible. He didn’t use the same method twice. Think of the walls of Jericho – surely this was something unexpected! The bible is full of God’s mystery.
The irony is in that we expect Him to answer our prayers often in just the way that we want. For instance, I have prayed for a specific job. Then when I didn’t get it I was disappointed and couldn’t figure out why God didn’t answer my prayer. After getting a better job later, I realized that God had better plans for me and I needed to learn the lessons of trust and patience.
God’s ways are mysterious and wonderful. His resources span the universe and time. Yet we ironically are often disappointed when he doesn’t answer our specific prayers in precisely the way and time that we want. I am learning to pray less about specific circumstances and more about my general needs and my desire for growth. For example, I have a young friend who is very ill. After being struck by illness a year ago she is in a wheelchair. She has had a severe headache for more then a year now and continued neurological deterioration. The doctors don’t know what the cause is. They are calling it “organic brain disease.” Which is doctor code for something in the brain is not working right but we can’t find the cause or fix it. It has been heartbreaking to see this young girl who has no insurance go from healthy to unable to walk or read. Instead of praying for specific things – like God heal her brain – cure this disease now – I have been praying in general for her physical and spiritual healing – for His will to be done. I see God working in her life even though she is not physically healed, and I know that God’s infinite resources will bring healing in His time and in His wonderfully creative surprising way.

Joan C. Webb July 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Hi MaryL, thanks for your comments. Years ago when I started writing a prayer journal and I started dating my prayers and drawing a line down the middle of the page to create space for God’s answers, I began to see that He responded in surprising ways. Since then I’ve been referring to His “responses” instead of His “answers.” It’s just a “thing” with me. :-) I guess I learned that God’s “answers” meant His “Yes”. Yet He has such a variety of responses beyond the “yes, here have exactly what you prayed for.” I thought of this when I read your comments. I just can’t always know what God has in mind for His other children, so I can’t determine or try to control how He works in their lives. It’s a relief, actually. :-)

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