Rouse All the Senses
One should not feel afraid to ask the question "why?" to God. However, one should not pant for an answer. Our Shepherd leads us both through tranquil waters and valleys of death (Psa 23). His answer may be that trying and difficult situations continue indefinitely. Sometimes the only answer to "why?" is a resounding "I AM." The reality of this imagery struck me recently as I was reading John Calvin's commentary on Genesis 12.
In Genesis 12, God calls Abram out of his homeland and away from his father. There is significant Biblical symbolism in this command. My mind races that God is calling him to "leave his father and mother" to become a new Adam. But Calvin catches an especially interesting element in attributing the command to be a type of exile for Abram. The restless wandering of Abraham for the rest of his life seems to affirm this idea. God's great blessing — the calling of faith in Abram — leads to an exile. Though this has typological value in understanding the fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the example is also exceptionally valuable for understanding the trials and tribulation of life.
In his commentary, Calvin puts it thusly,
"Yet it is not to be supposed, that God takes a cruel pleasure in the trouble of his servants; but he thus tries all their affections, that he may not leave any lurking-places undiscovered in their hearts. We see many persons zealous for a short time, who afterwards become frozen; whence is this, but because they build without a foundation? Therefore God determined, thoroughly to rouse all the senses of Abram, that he might undertake nothing rashly or inconsiderately; lest, repenting soon afterwards, he should veer with the wind, and return. Wherefore, if we desire to follow God with constancy, it behoves us carefully to meditate on all the inconveniences, all the difficulties, all the dangers which await us; that not only a hasty zeal may produce fading flowers, but that from a deep and well-fixed root of piety, we may bring forth fruit in our whole life." (Commentary on Genesis Volume 1)
Yes, it is painful for there to be no further "lurking-places undiscovered" in our hearts. This may even come at times under the direct discipline of God (Heb 11:12). We do remain in some sense men who "love darkness" (John 3:19). Yet, I love the imagery from Calvin of God "rous[ing] all the senses" that we might serve Him fully and with consistency. God's purposes are to establish a "deep and well-fixed root of piety" out of His pure mercy and grace.
The truth of the psalmist is that the peaceful waters will not often drive us back to our Shepherd's feet. But the valley of death always does. If life is worth calling "exile," then it is an exile that our Savior took upon Himself (Heb 2:10-18). With renewed curiosity, I read,
"For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham." (Hebrews 2:16; NKJV)