(These are from the lecture notes for a course I am teaching at The Master’s College
Digression: The Lord our Rock
In this matter of making disciples, you will be overwhelmed; you will be crushed; you will be made weak: so that Christ will alone be seen as strong. You must know this to be true. If your faith is all second-hand, you will not be able to either exhibit a life or faith, nor will you be able to even speak of faith with confidence.
When someone comes in with a trial, your “Well, trust Jesus” will sound like empty air, sounds without meaning — unless you know for a fact that Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5.
If you do not look and live like one who knows these things to be true, your life will contradict your doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:16
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:1–2 (ESV)
These words may very well sound pretty but false for someone in a brutal marriage, someone betrayed, someone dying of a hideous disease. Read these words to someone who has just buried her child; or someone who has just confessed to adultery. There are times when it simply sounds false to say “The Lord is my rock”.
In these circumstances, we must either conclude that David was wrong — or that our understanding of God’s deliverance is wrong. How then is the Lord our Rock?
How can we say that the Lord is our Rock when we seem to be crushed in this life?
What is the Claim of Salvation?
One way to “solve” the problem is simply to make God’s claim small enough to match our experience. This is similar to the “openness of God” defense to the problem of evil. When we ask, “Why do bad things happen?” The answer is “God can’t/won’t stop it, because God doesn’t know what is going to happen (God is “open” to the future, so as to guarantee human freedom). Yet, as we will see, God and the saints claim quite the opposite.