God On a Spreadsheet

“What makes you question my ability to do my job?” My friend asked as she sat with the new boss who had stepped in to oversee her.

“Well,” the new boss waved a hand over the spreadsheets on her desk, “Nothing in these numbers before me would indicate your success.”


Proving success. Defending efficacy. Measuring. Evaluating. Judging. It’s the way of the world.

On the one hand, that’s not all bad. I’m for backing up claims with hard evidence. Don’t throw a statistic at me without a solid understanding of the methods used to derive that statistic.

I like measurable goals. It helps to have solid proof before instituting new ideas. I like implementing “evidence-based” practices at work, in parenting, or in medicine.

But not all success is easily measured. Not all efficacy fits onto an Excel sheet. Not all accomplishment can be defined by parameters weighted on a scale from 1 to 5.

That’s the challenge facing skeptics considering a life with God. What can they tell about God by looking at the lives of the people who believe in Him? When we plug the formula of humans plus God into our Excel cell, does it add up to a better life than humans on their own?

Yes, but there are no shortcuts to that equation. God is not flash card math facts. He’s an algorithm, a long-division problem, an algebraic formula, a geometric proof.

That’s my way of saying that life doesn’t always look better with Jesus in the middle of the problem.

Look at Joseph. If I were trying to decide whether or not to follow Joseph’s God, I couldn’t base my decision on the great life Joseph was handed. Every time Joseph was faithful, he ended up in a deeper pit or bigger prison. If I’m looking at the outcome of following Joseph’s God during those times, I’d be like my friend’s boss “Nothing on the spreadsheets of Joseph’s life indicates His God’s success.”

I imagine Joseph in prison hearing fellow prisoners taunt him “Hey, where is your living God now, Joseph?”


But those were moments in Joseph’s life – okay, looooonnnnggggg moments –but they were only snapshots and not the whole story. That’s where faith enters in – persevering faith.

Eventually, Joseph’s story is one of triumph and God’s faithfulness but there were times when one might look at it and decide – “Yeah, no thanks, I think I’ll stick with worshipping the Nile.”

Habbakkuk faced this issue head on. Habbakkuk prophesied in a time when God was judging the people He loved. This was not a fun moment to be in the family of God.

But Habbkkuk knew that even when things were awful, God was still the best game in town – in the entire universe, in fact.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

It’s fun when we pray for miracles and God obliges. And that happens. More frequently than most people know. And it’s wonderful when God pours out earthly blessings on the people who follow Him. Life is much more tolerable when there are figs, olives, grain, lamb chops and steaks.

But in the days of barren fig trees, failed crops, unemployment, divorce, sickness, death, prisons, pits, and unanswered prayers, God is still worthy of our praise and worth following – but it may not look that way to others.

When the spreadsheet before you does not indicate success – know that God is with you.

When a current snapshot of your life would not convince a skeptic that life with God is better than life without Him – know that God is with you.

When the accuser whispers in your ear “Where is your God now?” Answer back that He is close enough to defend you against the lies of Satan and command him to be silent in the name of Jesus Christ.

And then hold on. God is with you.

Turn to the Psalms and read what David wrote in Psalm 42: 3-5 “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

God does not fit on a spreadsheet and none of our lives fit into those little cells. God measures success on His own scale and He’s in no hurry with His work in us, so don’t you be, either.

One day, if we endure, we will sit at a great banquet table with Joseph, Habbakuk, David, and others and we will all laugh at our days of trial, long behind us. We will raise glasses full of the best wine in the universe and God will laugh with us and it will ring out through the galaxies like a symphony of the only success that matters.

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    The Conversation

  1. Great post, Lori. Thanks for the reminder. And I LOVE the video. 🙂

  2. Incredible insight from an incredible friend. Love this Lori.

  3. Cathy Baker says:

    Great insight, Lori. The verse is one of my favorites.

  4. Good reminder to discipline ourselves to hold onto God’s view.So often we base our actions on what we think another is thinking about us, or what we think the situation is reflecting about our performance only to find out none of it was true.