If People Can’t See What God Is Doing
1 For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, There’ll come a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it’ll be too late to help them.
2 When good people run things, everyone is glad, but when the ruler is bad, everyone groans.
3 If you love wisdom, you’ll delight your parents, but you’ll destroy their trust if you run with whores.
4 A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste.
5 A flattering neighbor is up to no good; he’s probably planning to take advantage of you.
6 Evil people fall into their own traps; good people run the other way, glad to escape.
7 The good-hearted understand what it’s like to be poor; the hardhearted haven’t the faintest idea.
8 A gang of cynics can upset a whole city; a group of sages can calm everyone down.
9 A sage trying to work things out with a fool gets only scorn and sarcasm for his trouble.
10 Murderers hate honest people; moral folks encourage them.
11 A fool lets it all hang out; a sage quietly mulls it over.
12 When a leader listens to malicious gossip, all the workers get infected with evil.
13 The poor and their abusers have at least something in common: they can both see—their sight, God’s gift!
14 Leadership gains authority and respect when the voiceless poor are treated fairly.
15 Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents.
16 When degenerates take charge, crime runs wild, but the righteous will eventually observe their collapse.
17 Discipline your children; you’ll be glad you did—they’ll turn out delightful to live with.
18 If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
19 It takes more than talk to keep workers in line; mere words go in one ear and out the other.
20 Observe the people who always talk before they think— even simpletons are better off than they are.
21 If you let people treat you like a doormat, you’ll be quite forgotten in the end.
22 Angry people stir up a lot of discord; the intemperate stir up trouble.
23 Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.
24 Befriend an outlaw and become an enemy to yourself. When the victims cry out, you’ll be included in their curses if you’re a coward to their cause in court.
25 The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.
26 Everyone tries to get help from the leader, but only God will give us justice.
27 Good people can’t stand the sight of deliberate evil; the wicked can’t stand the sight of well-chosen goodness.
There’ll come a day when life tests you, even “tumbles in” on you, as described by the writer of Proverbs 29:1 (The Message). I don’t like things tumbling in on me. I don’t like being tested. And I especially don’t like to fail. But it’s usually neither tumbling nor failure that cripples me, but the fear of failing.
It’s the fear that drives me to push away what matters most when life feels out of control. I’m afraid of being considered a fraud, a boy who has been pretending to be a man. A father who wants to be the world’s best Dad, but feels like the worst. A professional, one mistake away from a major business screw-up. A husband of sixteen years, who still rushes out last-minute for a Valentine’s Day gift and the one remaining bouquet of wilted roses—nobody will know, right? So I cling to that which anesthetizes my fears. My hands reach for any illusion that makes me believe I’m still in control, that I’m somehow immune to a personal meltdown of disappointment.
I’ll eat more, to satisfy my control over hunger. I’ll exercise more, to control my health and image. I’ll work late, to create a sense of accomplishment that my workload is under control. I’ll veg on the couch to numb my mind and emotions, controlling outside pressures by avoiding them altogether. Control. Control. Control.
Not that any of those activities are altogether bad—I’ve explored much darker caves at other times in my life—but exerting all my energy on short-term relief only induces a false sense of peace, fleeting at best.
The long-term alternative is to rely on faith, a choice that comes easy when life is grand but is the first thing we ditch when we don’t get our way. Faith requires giving up control to a God we cannot see, touch, or hear, at least not in the sense we do with human beings. In a crisis, faith prompts us to admit that God is in control, and we are not.
As we read further into Proverbs 29, we arrive at a split in the river. One channel leads to rough water and portages, the other flows atop smooth and navigable currents.
“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” (Verse 18, The Message)
Hm…I mull over that verse. They stumble all over themselves. They. We. Me. How many of my problems are perpetuated by self, by my unwillingness to see what God is doing, by my refusal to ask Him, or by my fear that He will be silent?
When I can’t see what God is doing, I walk aimlessly through each day, tripping on bad decisions and poor investments of time and resources because I have no clue what God would lead me to do.
But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. Another translation says “…but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” (NIV)
Blessed is the one who chooses God, who stops the tug-of-war against Him and decides to pull for Him, to side with Him, to ask and thus receive. Blessed is the person who takes time not only to read God’s Word but to heed the wisdom within His words, to attend to what God reveals. And as worded in The Message translation of verse 18, they are not only blessed—they are most blessed. There is something vitally good here.
Part of that blessing is the promise of peace, and what would most of us give for a little peace these days? Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) says “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”
Perfect peace is lasting peace. Wholeness. Readiness. Steadiness. Completeness. All other attempts to find peace in this world only result in short-lived pleasures and a lifetime of more trying, more failing, more fear of failing, and little success. The cycle is like a Ferris Wheel that won’t stop until we acknowledge the operator has complete control over our lives. Up and down. Forward and backward. Rocking back and forth. Ultimately, the cycle drives us to misery and bitterness. Why torture ourselves? I don’t want to spin on a wheel for the rest of my life. Do you?
Brock is married to his wonderful wife Sarah of 16 years. They share life with three zany children, Jared, Morgan, and Braden. Brock’s family recently moved from Colorado back to their home state of Indiana. Despite leaving the Rocky Mountain region for the flatlands of the Midwest, this new season is filled with new mountains to climb for Brock and his family.
Follow Brock on Twitter @brockhenning. You can read more about these mountain climbs of faith (and other literary garb) at Brock’s Lifesummit Blog. http://www.brockhenning.com