A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal published a jaw dropping interview with Mosab Hamas Yousef, the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef — a founder and leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Mosab is debuting his book “Son of Hamas” this week. He is stepping onto the world stage — by professing he became a Christian, while spying for Israel’s counter intelligence agency, Shin Bet.
– born into a Muslim, terrorist family,
– converted to Christianinty,
– spied on the Palestinians,
– for the Jewish nation…
How’s that for a big reveal?
When God Is Silent
When I first started working out of college, my first boss was an Israeli. This was back in the day, when I was seriously clueless about political correctness in the workplace.
God took advantage of the green-behind-the-ears. The big cheese and I became good enough friends, for me to actually share the Gospel with him one day.
We ended up at a divide over God’s goodness. He turned to me, with brows knitted and eyes tinged with honesty and anger, and said,
“Bonnie, I wish I could have faith like you. You just believe…
Me? I can never believe in a God who would allow millions of Jews to be killed by Hitler…
Where was God when innocent women and babies were raped, murdered and burned?”
I treaded carefully. Even though the Holocaust was a result of evil in the world, his enigma wouldn’t be solved by a Sunday School answer.
He wanted to know why God — if He was good and powerful — didn’t stop the evil from happening.
I gave the best answer I could. But, he wasn’t satisfied.
How can God stay silent, during a time He could have taken action?
We ask this same question, when we find ourselves huddled under the weight of troubles and trials.
Which God Will We Choose?
My friend is right — it ultimately comes down to a matter of faith.
Do we believe that god is deity, aloof and ruthless random with his actions? Then, we can select experiences that point to existence of such a god.
Do we dare believe that God is ultimately good? Then, we can believe there must be more to the bigger picture. We remember how Jesus heaped everything wrong and evil on Himself, when He died on the cross for us.
In the darkness of our greatest fears, we hold onto our snapshots of God’s love, forgiveness and grace — even as we hurt.
Liberated From God
The story of Mosab’s double conversion – from terrorism to Christianity and allegiance to Israel – stunned me to the core.
“I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ…
I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love.
I didn’t leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion…
It’s a beautiful thing to see my God exist in my life and see the change in my life.”
If God could reach this man, He can reach me, where I am afraid and confused. When life doesn’t make sense.
When asked what could change the tide in Middle Eastern terrorism, Mosab did not mince words:
“The problem is with their God.
They need to be liberated from their God.
He is their biggest enemy.
It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to.”
Don’t Give Up On God
Mosab’s story teaches me to never give up on the power of God’s love. He can reach anyone, no matter how dire the situation. No matter how high the stakes are.
I tend to write off the improbability of a situation. I notice how impenetrable a heart can be. All the while, God has moved into the heart of a most unlikely candidate to speak His love and power.
The article ends with a breath-taking testimony of Mosab’s life changing faith:
These are all dangerous words. Of the threats issued to his life by Islamists, [Mosab] says,
“That’s not the worst thing that can happen to you. I’m OK with it, I’m not afraid. . . . Palestinians have reason to kill me. Some Israelis may want to kill me.
My goal is not to defeat my enemy. It is to win over my enemy.”
God may appear silent. But, watch out. He is very good at big reveals.
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Is God silent in an area of your life now?
What are your snapshots of God’s personal goodness to you? Doubt and faith can co-exist.
“And we know that in all things,
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
Today's post is a third write-up on the topic of trouble and how it fits into God's plans for us. Here are two posts you'll want to check out -- the comments that readers posted prompted today's thoughts: 1. Anyone Seen My Blueprints? How Trouble Fits In With God's Plans 2. Why Following Faith Is Tough I'm going to be ordering a copy of Mosab's book -- Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable Choices. If you happen to read it too, lemme know. Would love to know what you think about it. SUBSCRIBE NOW to catch these updates from FaithBarista hot and fresh directly in your mailbox via email (click here) or RSS (click here) news reader.
Wow! What a powerful testimony. My world is often so small that I tend to forget to look at all the amazing things that God is doing outside of my two square feet. He is Awesome!
Last night I was tempted to fear instead of trust. Ultimately, to doubt instead of believe. I gave in for a while. Then I realized that was what Satan wanted. He needed me scared….God is silent over what is next for me. I graduate in May. My fear is not finding a job, or being unprepared for any job I find. I know that fear is not from Him> 2 Tim 1:7…What an amazing story of God moving in Mosab’s life!
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..*Cough Cough* =-.
That statement Mosab makes about the need to be “liberated from their God”: That is so highly charged and liable to incitement. And, to my mind, yet another perversion of God’s Word. The kind of perversion that leads to religious fanaticism of the worst kind.
How in any way could one group’s God be “wrong” and another’s “right”?
The problem we call terrorism does not rest with God, Allah, Yehwah, Yeshua, God by whatever name He is given. It rests with man’s perversion of God and His Word.
.-= Maureen (Mo)´s last blog ..Wednesday Wonder: Art in Science =-.
The information we have from experience is partial and highly subjective. Always.
We can’t use it ALONE to decide what to believe. It’s that simple. And it’s very hard for us.
We don’t want to take God at his word. We look for proofs from experience. That’s what gets us into trouble. I know this sounds a bit nutty to many people. But this is exactly how we get into trouble with faith.
Good post. Keep that strong coffee coming! 🙂
.-= Cassandra Frear´s last blog ..Coffee Like a Lover =-.
Much food (or coffee, rather) for thought here.
I’ve been mulling silence, too, as part of Ann’s weekly writing project. So today, I got to thinking about how Oswald Chambers views silence from God. Chambers writes that silence is a sign that God is “bringing you into a marvelous understanding of Himself.”
You ask the tough questions here, questions that never have easy answers. (Thank you for that…) Questions like: How can God stay silent during times He could have taken action? And it reminds me of when Jesus showed up “late” to Lazarus’ tomb.
Thanks, as always, for your deep insights. You have a gift.
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Scared of the Quiet =-.
One of the most humbling things I have been learning lately is knowing what God has done in me (in spite of me), how can I ever give up on anybody else? Which is a lot easier to say than to live.
.-= Chris Sullivan´s last blog ..My Illusion of Security =-.
I was just talking with my MIL yesterday about a place I feel God has been silent in my life. My grandma is sick w/cancer…again. God miraculously healed her before and yet here she is battling an unrelated form of cancer. This time I’m not holding out hope that He’s going to heal her. I’ve been feeling like the deck is stacked against her and wondering how many miraculous healings one person will get. Your post has helped to remind me that nothing is impossible for God and to never give up hoping in Him. Thank you!
.-= Melissa Brotherton´s last blog ..Oh, for goodness sake… =-.
Great testimony and thoughts, Bonnie. You are so right. When we fight and struggle to see and hear and understand, we have to refer to and remember His goodness and kindness. He has done miracles in our lives and He is more than able to do them again as we trust Him.
Reminds me of one of my favorite verses from Psalm 27, “surely I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…”
.-= jasonS´s last blog ..Mad Church Disease (Ch. 4 Discussion) =-.
Habakkuk wrestled with the same questions and doubts…how could an all powerful, all loving God allow such hurt, pain, suffering and violence? He struggles to grasp God’s perfect timing and justice. God simply said, “If I were to tell you, you wouldn’t even believe it!” (Hab 1:5)…after 3 chapters worth of conversation, Habakkuk goes from anger to doubt to questioning to contemplate…and ultimately to worship. And that is a life of faith. That we don’t understand God’s timeline, nor His ways, but we continue to trust even when we don’t have answers.
Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is not a plastic smile that pretends everything is okay. It is that He turns our sorrow to gladness. In the dead of night, it’s the joy we know will come in the morning.
Mosab is a modern day Paul. God got a hold of this man, who was zealous for a faith that only created bondage, and is now using Him for His glory. What a God we serve!
Sometimes human logic can’t prove the existence of God, but the heart can. I know I struggle with many questions about what a loving God should or should not do. What I’ve found is that he does use us to bring about his healing–it’s not a magic act. He did finally move heaven and earth to free the Jews from Hitler’s grasp. It just took longer than we wanted it to take because He used our humanity to bring it about. The US did not want to get involved initially when they were told of what was going on–just like you and me when we hear of terrible things happening. We want to hide in the safety of our closet often confused about what to do–the wrong seems so big. But God keeps urging those who can do something about the wrongs to step up. I see brave people in our society doing just that when they could retreat because of personal tragedy, they step up and try to make a better way for others. God does not lay idle in our world. He urges us all to be a part of the solution. We just have to be willing to step up. I say most of this to myself because I know I need to do more. Thanks for tackling the big, scary questions!
Oh. My. Goodness.
I absolutely LOVED this post, sweet Bonnie. This is one of those posts that I want everyone I know (and not just my mom friends and gal pals) to read!
My jaw is still on the floor.
Very powerful. THANK YOU!!
.-= Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms´s last blog ..Wisdom and Second Chances: A Guest Post =-.
Bonnie, you have officially taken the bull by the horns here. Great post with the right questions, some good thoughts, and some good room for mystery.
I’d like to play with the idea of God directly intervening in our world to stop certain things. I think that no matter what God did in the world, there would still be room for people to point at certain things and say, “Well, you fixed THAT, but what about THIS?” At a certain point we would just expect God to do it all for us. He has given us his Spirit because he wants us to take action as his body on earth. That doesn’t mean that God sometimes acts apart from his people, but we should take note of the different dynamics at work here.
While we can’t create formulas that explain why God acts at certain times, I think we can at least say that a world where God acted all of the time apart from his people would render the Holy Spirit in his people kind of unnecessary. That doesn’t mean we will understand how these things work all of the time, but I think that at least clues us in on how God works through us, not simply apart from us.
Social comments and analytics for this post…
This post was mentioned on Twitter by TheBonnieGray: New Post — How Can God Stay Silent? http://bit.ly/aWjSm9 What I Have In Common With An Ex-Terrorist…
The fact that this man has been touched by Jesus speaks volumes as to how God can reveal Himself with or without our help. I have heard stories of many visions and dreams leading to conversion in Muslim countries. He is not limited by our hands!
But yes, there is so much we will not understand in this earthly kingdom. I like what Ed says, about there being no formula for how God works. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who asked us to consider the most complicated thing that we know: the human brain. Man only understands a tiny portion of what our brain does and how it works. What makes us think we should understand God?
I am reassured (well, okay, sometimes I am) by the knowledge that the One True God is bigger than anything my mind can make sense of. I want Him to be, don’t you?
What a great discussion, Bonnie! Isn’t it awesome how one thought sparks a fire? I’m going back to read your previous post now. Thanks for filling me in on this great dynamic going on over here!
.-= laura´s last blog ..Our Guru: Meet Chris Cree =-.
This was a powerful and eye opening post, Bonnie. What a testimony of faith!
.-= Bridget Chumbley´s last blog ..Goodness (Blog Carnival) =-.
Awesome post Bonnie! Lots to digest here!
P.S. I wrote a similar post about God’s goodness yesterday called “Is God good all the time?” http://bit.ly/9sXaci
.-= Kevin M.´s last blog ..Fantastic freehand drawings =-.
I agree with Maureen, the problem is not with God’s goodness, it is with how man chooses to twist it.
There is so much here that I want to mull over, Bonnie…you’ve opened such a great discussion with this post! Thank you.
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..The Meaning of Goodness =-.
We are in one of those ‘trouble on every side’-seasons…jobless, son and husband both have injuries and we have no insurance, marital challenges…Thanks for this good word about the Lord’s big reveal. Hope it’s soon…
Thanks for sharing. My 10 year old son asked me a question along the same lines you mentioned here. He asked me “If God knew the world would turn out this way whey did he let it happen?” It’s difficult to answer and explain why he gave us free will to a 10 year old. Thanks for sharing this.
.-= Amy Nabors´s last blog ..Project Life – March 2 – 8, 2010 =-.
Hey Bonnie, this is real interesting – I am always taken by conversion stories, and this one is dramatic. To think that you found in the WSJ, of all places! You are right – God has a lot of surprises in store for us…especially when we think He is silent.
.-= Bradley J. Moore´s last blog ..Your Spiritual Leadership Profile: What Box Are You In? =-.
Thank you so much for writing this. It is so incredibly, overwhelmingly powerful.
.-= emily´s last blog ..love it enough =-.
I’m new to your site, Bonnie, but after reading this I HAD to comment! First of all, this very topic is a mysterious one…..a topic that requires a great deal of faith and trust. Well, isn’t that a lot of what Christianity is all about? If I knew all the reasons things happen, then I wouldn’t need to trust Him and put my faith in Him that all things will work out for my good, because I do love Him.
This can be a sticky sort of subject; yet as I continue on my journey with God, I realize that a huge part of this journey is not clear-cut. Even though much of it is foggy (meaning, I don’t know what’s going to happen or WHY everything happens) I’ve decided to cling to Him because I’ve found that despite everything; despite NOT knowing all the answers, that in itself is a revelation. I no longer have to KNOW all the answers. I’ve placed my trust and my faith in Jesus Christ. As someone who would rather know ahead of time what’s going to happen or what the plan is, God has flipped that upside down. He calls us to action. It’s AFTER we step out in faith that He moves.
Blessings to all,
[…] It’s ultimately a question of whether we trust in God’s goodness. […]
[…] A couple weeks ago, I put a call out for bloggers and readers of Faith Barista to share their stories of rejection. We have also been exploring the whole notion of God’s blueprints for our lives and trying to grapple with why He allows pain. […]
This is Satan’s world, God’s world will be nothing like this. God is ready and willing to protect us and help us overcome this world and our corrupt flesh. There is a reason for everything that happens, sometimes we just can’t see it, but someday we’ll understand. We just have to always Trust God and get rid of our worries, fears and doubts. Thank you Bonnie for a great post! God Bless You
.-= John – Trust God´s last blog ..Family Structure Is Important For Your Children =-.
“Mosab’s story teaches me to never give up on the power of God’s love. He can reach anyone, no matter how dire the situation. No matter how high the stakes are.”
this is exacty what i needed to hear today as i pray for my husband’s salvation.
(sorry this entry is months late. i just discovered your blog today and feel so blessed by it already. thank you!)