Theology often gets a bad rap. Pitted against application, doctrine is painted as stuffy and out of step. But so often when we read the Bible we find that theology drives the devotion. Orthodoxy gets pressed down into the crevices of our lives to make us grow. Like an expert mason with his trowel, the Lord uses trials to press the mortar of doctrine into the deepest parts of our lives.
One story that brings this out in a refreshing way is the time when Rebekah was pregnant with twins. Like us, Rebekah was not promised an easy life on the road of blessing. She experienced great conflict. We read in Genesis 25:22 that “the children struggled together within her.” The NIV says that the babies jostled together within her. There was a conflict in Rebekah’s womb, and it was most certainly painful.
In response, Rebekah asks an appropriate question: “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?”
Can you relate to this? Have you ever uttered these words?
If we’re honest, when things are not going our way, this is what we think whether we say it aloud. It is certainly difficult when our plan for our life does not line up with God’s plan. This internal restlessness could become a recipe for spiritual discouragement.
We learn a lesson from Rebekah that we can take home. Notice the flow, why is this happening to me . . . so she went to inquire of the Lord.
The question of “why?” is teamed up with prayer.
This snippet from the life of Rebekah reminds us that the regular, ordinary, everyday stuff of life should drive us to prayer. (What could be more everyday than discomfort in pregnancy?) Rebekah baptizes here fear, anxiety, and pain in prayer.
If you circle the runway of “why?” without landing on the airstrip of God’s character, then you will soon be engulfed in anxiety, bitterness, and discontentment. This pattern in the life of Rebekah is exactly what we need to observe. She asks, “Why?” because she is neither omniscient nor sovereign. She asks it to the Lord because he is both.
The promises of God drive us to God, even when life doesn’t make sense.
We see this pattern modeled by the Lord Jesus himself. When the vice was tightening upon our Master, he was greatly distressed. Like Rebekah, there was a great struggle within him. On the Mount of Olives, he was in the Olive Press. As he looked upon his hour he as weary. His Holy Father, beloved from eternity, was now tightening the handle, and he was being pressed and vexed by the trial at hand. And Rebekah’s ultimate son, the true Jacob, fell on his face under the heavy weight of the test. Sweating drops of blood, our Savior embraced God’s sovereign will as both fixed and good. Praying, Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done.” This is the example for us, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
As God’s sovereign will crashes like a giant wave upon the shore of your life, you kiss the wave and trust that he is both sovereign and good. The theological truth that God is both sovereign and also good does not make trials less arduous. They remain difficult. However, the trials, in God’s providence, do make God’s goodness and sovereignty more precious to us. Our sovereign God presses theology into our lives to fortify and strengthen us. Then, in the midst of the storm, doctrine is seen to be exceedingly precious. Far from impractical, doctrine is immensely practical and essential.