Sunday, November 13, 2011

Forgiving God

"Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence.   All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments...  When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant;  I was a brute beast before you." ~ Psalm 73:13, 14, 21 & 22, NIV

Continuing on with our series based on the Inclusion Fusion talk "Bathing in the Healing Power of Forgiveness", let's move beyond forgiving others, and examine forgiving God.  When our child is first diagnosed, it is completely natural to feel angry at our Creator.  Guilty as we may feel about it, few escape this emotion.

Part of our anger at God is based on how we are humanly wired.  We were created with an innate sense to protect our children.  We see the vulnerability of the very young and become indignant that any harm would come to them.  Our strong sense of justice becomes painfully aware of their unfair lot in life.  What infant or child could ever be deserving of suffering surgeries, treatments, therapies or ostracizing by peers?

Another part of our anger is birthed by who we believe God to be.  We're taught from a very young age that "Jesus loves me," and "God is love".  So, how does that square with childhood suffering?  How can a loving God allow such a thing?  We are also raised to believe that God is omnipotent, almighty and can even alter the course of history.  If that is true, why wouldn't He prevent such heartache from occurring?

A final piece of our anger can be attributed to our own sense of entitlement.  We truly believe that we personally don't deserve the anguish of a child with special needs.  We feel that we have been "good enough" to deserve better.  Despite all of our prayer, serving, acts of kindness and decent behavior, tragedy has beset us, and that's not fair.

How do we resolve such feelings?  After all, it is rather odd to wrestle with hating One who holds the universe in His hands!  The first step is to get to know who God is.  Like any other relationship, the more time you spend with your Maker, the better you will get to know Him.  And that knowledge cannot come solely from the second-hand knowledge of another person.  It must come from digging deep into God's word.  Spending daily time without any noise and reading your Bible in a translation that you find understandable is absolutely key.  Over time, you will get to know God's character, how He works and who He is by reading not only His promises, but also how He has interacted with humans throughout history.

The second step involves taking an honest look at ourselves.  We all need to come to a place where we can admit that we really aren't "good enough" to deserve anything but hell.  Truthful self-examination reveals that we daily complain, quarrel, act selfishly, gossip and look down our noses at others.  We may not commit murder, but sin is sin, and we are too nasty to be in the presence of a holy God.  The good news is that we are dearly loved by our Creator even though we are tremendously unworthy.  He has made a way for us to be with Him in spite of ourselves!  He sacrificed His precious Son Jesus to pay the debt we owed to Him by our disobedience.  The honest renewal of this perspective leads us to the next step in forgiving God.

Once we realize that God spared no expense to draw us to Himself, when we realize that He's not even bound by death or the troubling consequences of sin, then we can begin to trust Him.  As we grow in that trust, we become more aware that He only has our best in mind.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future," our Maker tenderly assures us in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).  It brings to mind all the times I have had to make my kids take icky medicine or have a painful immunization because I knew that it had tremendous benefit far beyond the temporary discomfort.  Over time, we see that God operates similarly, but with far more wisdom and infinite benefit.

As we trust, we may be tempted to doubt and take control of our situation in our own power.  That anger flares up again when God doesn't do things our way in our timing.  That's when it's time to remember, "Hands off!"  We will grow in realizing the Lords full sufficiency when we let go.  Our expectations need to be released.  We need to stop trying to make everything turn out the way we think is best.  When we pry our hands off of our children and instead trust them to God's care, we may find out that He has something even better than we ever could have asked or imagined in mind.

Finally, we need to endure.  Forgiveness doesn't usually come as a one-time occurrence.  We find those toxic feelings creeping back at times, and we need to forgive again.  The good news is that as we persevere, the forgiveness comes more readily or easily.  We find that un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the object of our anger to die!  We discover that forgiving is really a gift to ourselves as well as another. 

You can get past your anger at God.  Don't allow bitterness to overtake your personality.  Redemption starts right here and now.  All you have to decide is whether you will take hold of the joy held out for you!

Pray:  God, I cannot hide a thing from You.  You know how angry I get with you that you allowed these difficulties to enter our lives!  I know You are big enough to handle my anger towards You.  Help me to heal and work through this.  Help me to trust that you permit everything for my good and Your glory.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your open honesty and explanation of the heart of the Gospel as it works itself through the pain of real circumstances - grappling even with God!