“That it has pleased God to make us just as we are”

September 11, 2015


John Lennox, a mathematician at Oxford, is a winsome apologist for the Christian faith. I’m reading his latest book, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism. In one chapter, he writes about the inherent risks of standing up for one’s faith, being a witness the way Daniel was, and shares an anecdote of his doing so at the highest levels of his profession. Being a witness for Christ, he says, can hinder one’s career.

But not always, and not, at least in Chapter 1, for Daniel and his three friends. Because of the boldness, sensitivity, and tact with which they witnessed to their faith in God, they prospered more than any of their fellow students at the university.

Lennox writes:

It would be a mistake, however (possibly a painful one), to think that this story somehow guarantees that if we honour God in our witness he will make us into intellectual and administrative geniuses like Daniel and his friends. It is perfectly true that God gave them their ability. That is what God did for four particular people at that time. It is no guarantee that he will do the same for us in our time. He had a very special role for them to fulfil, and he also has one for us. Just as God equipped them for their role, so he will equip us for ours; but those roles may be very different. In Christian terms: as it pleased him, God has set us in the great body of Christ, that organic unity that is the church. Each of us has a different function. All those functions are equally necessary and valuable, although not all are so obvious (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-26). We must learn to be content with the significance that God gives us…; and contentment comes when we understand that it has pleased God to make us just as we are.[1]

Contentment comes when we understand that it has pleased God to make us just as we are.

While I am 100 percent convinced that this is true, it is the struggle of my life to live as if I believe it. Am I the only one?

In the meantime, I’ll sing the following song until its words sink in. Merle seems very content, indeed.

1. John C. Lennox, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism (Oxford: Monarch Books, 2015), 81-2.

2 Responses to ““That it has pleased God to make us just as we are””

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Yes, I too have a problem with being content as I am. I would dearly love to be a Christian author, but am stuck in handling legal cases that are largely meaningless in the grand scheme of things, which work is not making me as much money at it as I think I ought to be making, if not need to be making. I do believe God places us where we are for His perfectly good reasons, including interacting with others of the faith. However, I can’t shake off the notion that I could have “done better” were it not for my disobediences and long interim stint as an atheist. In other words, yes, we are where God wants us to be, but part of why He wants us to be where He placed us is based on what kind of “vessel” we are (some vessels to honor and others to dishonor).

    • brentwhite Says:

      I hear you, Tom. Money is also an issue for me—not so much when I compare myself to other pastors (it’s not generally a high-paying profession!), but to non-clergy friends and acquaintances my age who are doing so much better than I am, financially.

      But my sinful craving for recognition is an even bigger challenge. The truth is, even if I felt like I were adequately “appreciated,” whatever that would look like, I know it would never be enough. If I look to other people to “fill up my tank,” it will never be enough. God has certainly taught me that through much bitter experience.

      I’ve said this in a sermon before, but it’s as if I went into ministry with a tacit “agreement” with God: in return for answering the call into ministry, God would “do some things for me” in return. And he hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain! I know this is foolish, blasphemous nonsense. But that’s one part of my personality that needs redemption.

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