Mark D. Roberts

God’s Perplexing Permission

READ Isaiah 63:1-19

 LORD, why have you allowed us to turn from your path?
Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you?
Return and help us, for we are your servants,
the tribes that are your special possession.

Isaiah 63:17

As the prophet looks upon the mess Israel made of its life, his thoughts turn to the mystery of God’s inaction, or even God’s participation, in the rebellion of Israel: “Lord, why have you allowed us to turn from your path? Why have you given us stubborn hearts so we no longer fear you?”
If you’ve walked with the Lord for a while, I expect you’ve had questions like these. If you’ve made poor choices for your life and these choices have led to much suffering, you’ve no doubt wondered why God let you make such a mess of your life. Why didn’t he guide you differently? Why didn’t he intervene?
Isaiah does not answer these questions for us. Nor does the Lord in response to Isaiah. Yet Isaiah reaffirms just how much we need God’s help, even if we don’t understand God’s ways. “Return and help us,” Isaiah prays, “for we are your servants.”
Similarly, when we suffer because of the poor decisions we have made, we realize that we need God’s help. This is the good news: although God’s ways are often mysterious to us, nevertheless, he is there to help us. As we read in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, always read to help in times of trouble.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever wondered why God allowed you to make such a mess of your life? When? Why do you think God gives us such freedom?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you know there have been many times in my life when I have asked questions just like those of Isaiah. I have wondered why you have let me make such painful mistakes in my life. And sometimes, Lord, it even seems as if you have given me a stubborn heart to oppose you. None of this makes much sense to me.
Yet what I know without question is that you are a wise and merciful God, and I need your help. So even when I can’t figure out what you’re doing in my life, or not doing, I still come to you for help. Return and help me, Lord, for I am your servant.
Today I pray for all who are suffering because of poor choices they have made. May they turn to you in humility, and may you reach out to them in your mercy. Help them, Lord! Amen.
Daily Reflections from The High
This devotional comes from The High Calling of Our Daily Work ( You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace.
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