Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When God Feels Abusive

Image courtesy of Sergey Nivens via 123rf.com

I hate this life! Who needs any more of this?
    Let me alone! There’s nothing to my life—it’s nothing
        but smoke.
What are mortals anyway, that you bother with them,
    that you even give them the time of day?
That you check up on them every morning,
    looking in on them to see how they’re doing?
Let up on me, will you?
    Can’t you even let me spit in peace?
Job 7:16-19, MSG

The story is one you're familiar with:  You just get through seeing your child through a medical crisis, and your husband loses his job.  While he is out on a job interview, a little old lady runs a red light and totals his car.  After he comes home from the crash, you open the mail to discover overdraft notices from your bank.  Your husband's former employer has charged back his paycheck, withdrawing from the account the thousands you just paid out in monthly bills.

Can the earth just open up and swallow you whole?  It might feel better.

For those of us who have our sights set on God, times like this can leave us aghast, wondering how He can stand idly by watching us crushed under such suffering.  Hasn't He promised not to let us be tested beyond our ability to stand up under it?  (See 1 Corinthians 10:13)  Enough already!  Where is God now?

Even the esteemed St Teresa Avila was once believed to tell the Lord, when she was bucked by her horse, dumped into a mud puddle on her way to a monastery, "If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder you have so few."

When the hits just keep coming, it is easy, even for believers to become weary, discouraged, and embittered.  Suffering long and hard without God's divine intervention can almost make Him seem abusive to us.

Yet, I have learned a perseverance through a life of relentless challenges that I think is definitely worth sharing with you.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? 

One thing I believe none of us can ever have enough of is personal humility.  We are continually battling our self-righteous pride throughout each day.  While we live in a culture that would have us each believe that we are our own little gods, entitled to what we desire at every turn, we would do well to remember that God is God alone, and we are not.  He is Sovereign and in control.  We are here for His good pleasure, not the other way around.

During some of my quiet morning time in His word recently, He broke open Paul's letter to the Romans in a fresh way.  In Chapter 9, verses 20-21 Paul writes to the church in Rome, "Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, 'Why did you make me like this?' A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay." (GW)

Ouch!  By God's good grace, I am saved by the blood of Jesus.  I am guaranteed a mansion in heaven.  He owes me NOTHING here on earth, yet still promises that His plans for me are good.  Who do I think I am questioning Him when He allows those unrelenting tough times?

WHERE ELSE CAN YOU TURN?
  
God's Truth is not always easy to swallow.  I would like to believe that we who follow him will all be millionaires here on earth, living an easy, pampered existence.  The reality is that this is a fallen world, and He promised that in this world I will have trouble.  (See John 16:33)

When Jesus was walking the earth, he had many followers.  At one point, he shares a difficult truth with his disciples that caused many of them to fall away for lack of understanding.  When these left, he asked his inner circle if they intended to leave him as well.

"Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.'" (John 6:68-69, ESV)

While there may be times where we may feel like He is our abuser, the bottom line is that He is really our True North, our only sense of Hope, the ONLY Way, the Truth, and the Life.

WHAT WILL YOU TRUST?
  
When the whole world seems out of control and you see no light at the end of the tunnel, the glaring question arises -- WHAT will you trust?  Will you trust your money?  You can lose it all at the drop of a hat.  Will you trust health?  You, of all people, know better than to trust that!  Will you trust certain people?  Other humans will always disappoint, even if it is unintentional.  Will you trust your own wisdom?  When crisis hits, you may be lucky if you can remember your own name.  Your feelings?  Emotions lie!  Remember those times you were afraid in the dark when there was nothing there of which to be afraid.

I LOVE The Voice translation of Psalm 42:5
Why am I so overwrought?
    Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
    Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
    who saves me and is my life.

I will choose faith over feelings when I can see no light at the end of the tunnel.  God keeps His promises.  Even when I can't feel it, and my body feels so heavy with oppressive circumstances that I can barely get out of bed, the truth remains that He has been faithful before, and He will be again.

These are the lessons my Heavenly Father has taught me over many dark, desperate years.  Despite my anger and frustration, in my long-suffering and sorrow, life may be hard, but God is still good.

PRAY:  Holy Spirit, only by Your uplifting strength can we take the next step on dark, weary days.  Fill us with Your hope and perseverance.  Remind us that we are just passing through on our way to our heavenly home with You.  Grant us joy in the journey, even when the road is rugged and long.


1 comment:

  1. I think all of us at least once in our lives felt that and spoke those words. Like it's all darkness and there seems no light at the end of the tunnel.

    I admire Job so much for his faith. And I like most the response of God to him in the end.

    He is in control and He knows what He's doing. :)

    ReplyDelete