It Is What It Is - Or Is It?

Over the last fifty years, the idiom “it is what it is” has sprung forth from the fatalists in our midst who firmly believe that we are victims -- victims of our circumstances, our situations, our upbringing, our medical condition, etc. It communicates that we have resigned ourselves to the belief that our situation is immutable, and nothing or no one can change it. It is used to convey a sense of resignation, helplessness and hopelessness. “That’s just the way I am.” “That’s just the way my spouse is.” “That’s just the way my kids are.” “That’s just how people like me are treated.” “That’s just the way the system works.” “It’s always been this way, and it will never change.”

But the fact of the matter is that we will never know the truth of any situation until we have heard from God. In His world, an immutable truth is that sin separates us from a Holy God. And He Himself made the way – the only way -- whereby we might overcome that immutable truth. He is not dead; He’s alive. He is not distant. He is not silent. He is not weak. His arm has not grown short. He is mighty and He is able to save – spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus healed. He raised the dead. He stilled storms. He met physical needs. He was the King of the reality that “it is NOT what it is, if Jesus says it isn’t”. And He still is! What He began to do through His earthly ministry, He still does. He is still full of surprises – for individuals, for families, for churches, and even for nations.

John Piper writes, “There is a pride in the predictions of human beings based on human calculations of human knowledge about human factors. There is a pride in such predictions that God does not like – even when made by Christians! It is a practical atheism. It does not allow for the Living Lord of the universe who turns things around – out of the blue!” It’s true today, and it was true in the first century. Imagine what it must have been like for the believers in the first century. Jesus was gone; He had ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father. The religious leaders who had crucified Jesus were seemingly in charge. They were persecuting the followers of Jesus. The Romans were still in control of the country. Everyone was against this church that was just emerging! They were battling their perceived reality that “it is what it is”.

In Acts 9, Peter was in the town of Lydda – about twenty miles northwest of Jerusalem. He was there to visit the newly-formed church in the town. He had come to town to encourage them in their faith. He met a man by the name of Aeneas who had been paralyzed for eight years. Aeneas had heard of the healing miracles of Jesus in days past, but Jesus was no longer there. So, as far as he was concerned, “it was what it was”. Imagine the hopelessness of this one who had been bedridden for eight years! Then – out of the blue – Peter came passing by and said, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up, and roll up your sleeping mat!”Instantly, Aeneas was healed! Imagine his joy! Jesus may have been out of sight, but He sure wasn’t gone. It no longer “was what it was”. Jesus had healed Aeneas – for the glory of the Father, and for the spread of the gospel. We read, “the whole population turned to the Lord.” Not only was one life transformed, but an entire town! 

And the word spread from there to the city of Joppa. Tabitha, a resident of the city, was already a believer. She apparently had an active ministry to the widows of Joppa as a couturier. She had become ill and died. Her body was already being prepared for burial when the believers sent two men to fetch Peter. The entire region knew about how Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Now they had heard how He had healed Aeneas through Peter, and they immediately believed that Jesus could still raise the dead. They believed that “it was NOT what it was” – because of Jesus. And God’s plan was for Tabitha to “get up!” God responded to the faith of the believers and the obedience of Peter in a way that aligned with His perfect plan.

This is the only instance recorded in Scripture where Jesus worked through Peter to raise someone from the dead. Jesus hadn’t called Peter to an itinerant ministry of raising the physically dead to life; He had called him to make disciples of the spiritually dead. In this instance, God chose for this one to be raised physically from the dead. His plan will not always look the same. His plan will not always be to bring about physical healing – but it will always be about bringing glory to the Father. If the healing doesn’t occur on this side of eternity, it will always occur on the other side. Don’t forget that Jesus sees with an eternal perspective and He works all things “together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT), and always for His glory. Trust Him to do the same thing in your circumstance and in your life.

Jesus is as much alive today as He was in the first century. He is able to do a lot more today than we are often willing to see or receive. He has surprises in store for us of which we have never dreamed. But there were two characteristics that were evidenced in that early church that we have seemingly lost today. If we would see Jesus work in the same power He demonstrated that day in Lydda and in Joppa, perhaps He is waiting for us to turn to Him in the same way. Luke wrote, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied(Acts 9:31 ESV). First, they walked in a holy fear of the Lord. They believed in a Lord God who is infinitely holy and infinitely powerful. They knew that He was not to be trifled with. They had seen Him still the storms. They had seen Ananias and Sapphira fall dead. You do not make light of this God. He is the “I AM that I AM”, and He is greater than whatever is.

Second, they walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. That comfort is much like being in the eye of a hurricane. In the eye, you experience a calmness and a peace in the midst of mighty power. We walk in the center of a fearsome power, but as we do, we can experience the calm and confidence of His presence. When we walk in that place, there is no circumstance or situation that can withstand His power. “It is what it is” can’t stand up to “I AM that I AM”. He alone is the immutable force! Trust Him!

Excerpt from Until He Returns