The Inestimable Ways of God

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We all have our ways of getting things done, many of them that are peculiar to each of us individually.  God also has his ways of getting things done, and they are unique to him.  None of us do things the way that God does, nor does he do things the way that any of us do.  

So, when we're asking God to do something for us, we should expect that God will not do it the way that seems normal to us.  And yet, we typically do think that we know how the request ought to be fulfilled.  And so we pray to God, asking him not only for the meeting of the need, but also for him to do it the way we think it should be done.

For instance, if we ask God to meet a financial need, we have already thought of a way, or two or three, that God could supply the answer for us.  In fact, we have figured out which would be the best way for the answer to come.  We need more money to pay the increase in rent, and we are being evaluated for a raise, so we ask God for an increase in the amount of our paycheck.  But God's ways are not our ways.

Whenever we are facing a dilemma, we can think of, perhaps, two, three, or four possible solutions.  We try each of them, and, one by one, they each fail to pan out.  It's then that we usually begin to pray.  We can't think of any other solutions to our problem, so we ask God to make one of the failed solutions into a success.  We might even say, "If God doesn't make this work, I don't see any other way."

And yet, God has clearly told us: "Your ways are not my ways."  We may have four possible solutions; God has 40,000.  We may see no other way to solve our problem; God sees many other ways.  And God has the ability to make all of his possible solutions become reality.

When the mighty king of Assyria brought his massive army to invade and destroy Jerusalem, King Hezekiah of Israel prayed fervently, asking God to deliver his city and its people.  Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had already defeated nearly a dozen kings and their cities, and Hezekiah felt helpless against this powerful and ruthless enemy.  So he prayed and asked God to defend his own name before all of the people in that part of the world.

But how could God possibly get the city of Jerusalem out of this "pickle"?  There were such limited options.  The army of Israel was not strong enough to subdue the Assyrians.  The city could not withstand a prolonged siege.  Jerusalem had no allies strong enough to defeat Sennacherib's army.  What other option was there?!

Here's what God did: 

The angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home.1  

Well, I'm sure that was not one of the options that Hezekiah nor any of his people had envisioned!  But then, our ways are not God's ways, and his ways include ways that we have never thought of.  And that is because his thoughts are not our thoughts.

When Joram was king of Israel's northern 10 tribes, there was a famine in the land, and the people of Samaria, the capitol, were suffering greatly.  Then, to make things worse, Benhadad, king of Aramea brought his army to the city and laid siege to it.  People in the city became desperate for something to eat.   Food was in such short supply that "a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab2 of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver."3  

But it was worse than that; way worse!  People were actually eating their own children; presumably, after they had starved to death.  Unfortunately, the king's solution was not to pray, but to threaten to kill Elisha, God's prophet.  Obviously God's ways were higher than the king's ways.  So God sent a message to the king through Elisha:

Tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.4  

Who could possibly envision such a rapid reversal of fortunes for the people of Samaria?  How could such a thing possibly occur?  Neither the king of Samaria nor any of the people of his city could have explained how such a thing would happen.  But it was no problem for God, because his ways are not our ways.

That evening, four lepers who were outside the city wall figured they had nothing to lose, so they decided to sneak into the enemy camp and look for food.  What they found defied explanation: the camp was deserted, and all of the army's food and supplies were left behind.  How did such a thing occur?  Here's the biblical account:

The Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound of chariots and a sound of horses, even the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us." Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents and their horses and their donkeys, even the camp just as it was, and fled for their life.5  


The people of the city heard the good news and rushed out to help themselves to the spoil.  And the words of the prophet were fulfilled.  And God provided a solution that was not even in the mind of any of the starving people in the city.  The apostle Paul said it this way: "[God] is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think."6  

So when you're facing a dilemma, and you've reached the end of every possible scenario that might provide a solution, remember what God said:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

He is able and he is willing to protect you and provide for you.  Cast your care on him, he cares for you.7  If God is for you, no one can be against you.8  Depend upon God; he is thoroughly dependable, and is eager to rescue you.  Remember that only the humble depend upon him; the proud prefer to try to do it themselves.

God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and he will lift you up.9  

1 Isaiah 37:36-37

2 This was equivalent to the volume of six eggs.

3 2 Kings 6:25

4 2 Kings 7:1

5 2 Kings 7:6-7

6 Ephesians 3:20

7 1 Peter 5:7

8 Romans 8:31

9 James 4:6-7,10

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