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God’s Hidden Smile (article)

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Article 16 of 36 from the Ponder This - 2004 series

April 2004 – GOD’S HIDDEN SMILE by Ray Pritchard

“The LORD said to him, ’Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ?’” (Exodus 4:11). This is a verse that will make you stop and think. There are four questions here, and each one deserves consideration:

1) Who gave man his mouth? Answer: God

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2) Who makes him deaf or mute? Answer: God.

3) Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Answer: God.

4) Is it not I, the Lord? Answer: Yes.

After hearing God’s call to lead the Jews out of Egypt, Moses protested that he lacked the eloquence necessary: “I am slow of speech and tongue” (v. 10). Note God’s answer carefully. He doesn’t tell Moses, “Don’t put yourself down. You’re really an excellent speaker. Don’t be so modest.” God’s answer is, “You are the way you are because I made you that way.” And the further application is, “I will be with you in your weakness and I will help you know what to say.” In a sense God is saying, “You’re right, Moses. You aren’t much of a public speaker, but you’re the man I want so stop complaining and let’s get on with the job.”


I’m struck by God’s explanation in verse 11: “I take responsibility for deafness, blindness, and the inability to speak.” Only a sovereign God could say something like that. While attending a funeral service for someone who had died of cancer, I heard a man say, “God didn’t do this.” I know what the man meant, but the statement as it stands is not correct. If he meant to say that cancer comes as a result of living in a fallen world and when we finally get to heaven there will be no more cancer, he’s right. But to say, “God didn’t do this” makes it sound as if God didn’t know what was going on and was helpless to stop it. That can’t possibly be right. A God who is not sovereign over cancer is not sovereign at all. It is better to say that God allows some things to happen for reasons that are not apparent to us than to say they happen by accident or that God is not involved. That answer leaves us both satisfied (It didn’t just “happen”) and frustrated (Why would God allow this?). In 1774, William Cowper wrote a hymn called “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” The fourth verse says, Judge not the Lord by feeble sense But trust him for his grace Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. I freely admit that the “smiling face” of God often seems totally hidden by human suffering. But remember this: It doesn’t help to push God away from our pain. Faith chooses to believe he is there even when we can’t see him at all.

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