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You May Not See It Now

Sometimes you try hard to do the right thing, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference. There are moments when you give it your all—whether in your marriage, job, faith, or other relationships—and it seems for naught. In my life, I’ve experienced those moments of wanting to give up and give in, because nothing seems to work no matter how hard I try.

And then I read the story of J. W. Tucker.

On November 24, 1964, Congolese rebels brutally tortured J. W. Tucker and sixty of his Christian compatriots. If that weren’t enough, these rebels then threw them into the crocodile-infested Bomokande River to be eaten alive. They wanted nothing to do with Tucker and his friends’ offer of help or the Jesus they shared.

Two days later, Belgian paratroopers rescued the rest of the families, including Tucker’s widow. At 20,000 feet, she prayed this prayer: “O, Father, we do thank Thee for Thy goodness and love and many blessings. We love Thee and praise Thee for Thy care. . . And we ask that you take J’s life which has been laid down, and use it in death for Thine honor and glory” (quoted in Batterson, Chase the Lion, 105).

Was J. W. Tucker’s sacrifice, along with that of his sixty friends, all for naught? They served faithfully, they worked hard, and they diligently shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And for what? To be fed to crocodiles in an African river.

What was meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20). He answered Tucker’s widow’s prayer in a unique way.

Fast forward thirty years. The Bomokande River flows through a region controlled by the Mangbetu tribe. During a period of civil unrest, the Mangbetu king reached out to the Congolese government for help. A Brigadier was sent to calm the crisis, who happened to be a man J. W. Tucker led to Christ only two months before Tucker was martyred for his faith. This Brigadier wanted to share Christ with the resistant Mangbetu people, but all of his efforts failed, until he discovered an ancient tribal tradition: “If the blood of any man flows in the Bomokande River, you must listen to his message” (ibid, 106).

The Brigadier gathered the village elders and told them of a man whose blood flowed in the river thirty years previously. Before this man died, he left a message that the God of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world. The Brigadier shared the Gospel message, and several elders fell to their knees and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Since then thousands of Mangbetu have come to faith in Christ and dozens of churches have started because one man’s blood flowed in the Bomokande River.

Tucker’s death was not for naught. And nor is your life, your hard work, your sacrifice, your prayers, your tears, or your pain! Ultimately, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). You may not see it now, but one day God will right what is wrong, restore what is broken, and reverse the irreversible.

So, stay the course! Fight the good fight! Keep the faith! God’s plan will unfold, and one day you will receive the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award . . . to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

How Can I Know God’s Will?

How many times have you tried to make a decision and hoped it was God’s will? Is it God’s will that you take that job? Is it God’s will that you marry that person? Is it God’s will that you buy that house?

On the one hand, we know God cares about the smallest detail of our lives. Jesus said we were not to be anxious about the basics of life—what we will eat, drink or wear. God knows our needs and provides in His way and time (Matthew 6:25-34).

On the other hand, how do we discern God’s specific will for these life decisions we all face? Author and pastor Mark Batterson boldly proclaimed, “The will of God is not wealth, health, and prosperity. It’s not even winning. The will of God is the glory of God” (Chase the Lion, 104).

That gives us a whole new perspective on what God does and does not will for our lives. He doesn’t “will” us to take that job, marry that person or buy that house. He doesn’t even “will” us to follow Him. He desires us to do so (2 Peter 3:9), but this power (or right) is only extended to those who receive Him (John 1:12).

God’s will is for us to bring Him glory in whatever we decide to do. And those decisions will not always end in success as the world defines it. Hebrews 11 makes that all too clear. Some who followed God’s will “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword” (Hebrews 11:33-34).

There were others who followed God’s will but didn’t fare so well in this lifetime. “[They] were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword” (Hebrews 11:35-37).

I much prefer the first description of God’s will than the second, but both can bring glory to God.

If you can afford to buy that brand new house, are you in God’s will? How about the pastor in India who lost his home due to persecution—is he in God’s will? Both have radically different outcomes in this life . . . on the surface. But both can have radically similar outcomes . . . if they are bringing glory to God.

The key question is, “How?” How you handle wealth reflects your submission to God’s will. Likewise, how you handle suffering reflects your submission to God’s will. If God receives the glory through your attitude and actions in moments of success or sorrow, you are, in fact, surrendering to the will of God.

To put it in the words of Batterson, “The will of God is not an insurance plan. The will of God is a dangerous plan. The will of God might get you killed. But if God gets the glory, goal accomplished. And the eternal reward we receive will infinitely outweigh the temporal sacrifice we make” (ibid., 105).

“Choose this day whom you will serve”—in the good times and in the bad—and you will discover whether or not you are in God’s will (Joshua 24:15).

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