Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Forgiveness series: Can you be mad at God?

Hey gang!

The next two best of 2009 articles are from a really good series on forgiveness. Forgiveness is important in our lives to live out a life that pleases God. This item is the part talking about being mad at God. All of us go through periods of getting upset with God over things. It's OK, but we also have to get through it and get past it. I hope this one impacts you if you are struggling with God.

From June 9, 2009

I thought about saving this part, but I got a couple emails and life takes interesting turns.

Recently, my wife lost a friend. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my wife works in a very difficult field. She is a radiation therapist at a cancer center. A lot of the people she sees don’t make it. However, there are some triumphs that the staff and the patients have. Some are cured and live long lives. Some go into remission only to have cancer rear its ugly head again later.

This is what happened to my wife’s friend. Even after the cancer came out of remission, the friend kept saying that she would get a miracle and be cured. My wife kept praying that she was right. The friend had hope to the very end.

I never know how each person’s passing will affect my wife. This one hurt. The friend was younger than most patients my wife takes care of. My wife had to admit something. This was unfair and it really made her mad. Mad at God.

On Sunday after service, she confessed to me that her heart wasn’t into it. She was upset that God would take a woman that had such faith and hope for a miracle at such a young age. She could grieve easier over people that had the chance to live a long productive life. But this was different. It wasn’t fair.

Mindy was right. It wasn’t fair. I think of another family I know in the community and their son had been a sinner of great magnitude. He finally straightened up, got his life right, met a nice girl, was living the good life. Then he got sick. He laid in a hospital ready to die. A friend asked me, “He got his life right and was doing what God wanted. It ain’t right. Why now?” The friend later admitted that he was also mad at God over this.

So why is God supposedly so unfair? Why would God take people that were so young? Why would God take people that are trying to live right? I could say the short answer that I hear most of the time. That God is God and God does whatever he wants. While that may or may not be true, I think there is a whole lot more to it than that.

The verse I often get quoted in times like these is Romans 8:28. Let’s look at it. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So how is God working by taking people like this? Truthfully, I don’t know. Sometimes he works in the people around that person. This other person sees that this person really had gotten their stuff together and seeing that they’ve left early inspires them to get their lives together. Sometimes we never quite figure it out until we meet Jesus on the other side.

But I want you to keep in mind that we are not the only ones who have dealt with the unfairness and have gotten upset with God. The entire book and story of Job show this emotion throughout. If any man in the Bible had a right to gripe, it was Job. God even tells Satan that Job is a blameless man before Satan tests Job. Here’s what Satan did. He had the Sabeans attack and take all his oxen and donkeys then kill all his servants but one. That guy escaped to tell Job what had happened. Then fire fell out of the sky, killing the sheep and all the servants with them, but one. Then, the Chaldeans came in and took his camels and killed all the servants but one. Finally, a mighty wind came in and collapsed the house that his sons and daughters were celebrating in and they were all killed.

Now that was a bad day. Job kept his cool. In verse 22 of chapter one, the Bible even tells us that Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Does that allow us to blame God every time something happens. No, but in verse 21 he also praised God through the trial. Job knew that God was still with him. These verses tell us that we are allowed to wonder what happened and even ask the question if God had a hand, but remember that he is also with us and will bring us through the trial.

Satan wasn’t done with Job. In chapter two, he even gives Job painful sores all over his body. So as Job is sitting among the ashes scratching himself, his wife got involved. She tells him to let go verbally and curse God so he could die. He responded that she was talking as a foolish woman and that we must accept troubles along with the good. I think all of us know people that debate that notion, especially those in the name it and claim it congregation. Only good is supposed to happen when we are Christians. Sorry, that’s not the way it is. Jesus tells us this in Matthew 5:45 as he says, “He (God) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

But Job does get into trouble as he debates these trials with his friends over chapters 3-37. The Lord comes and speaks to the situation in chapters 38-41. Don’t all of us wish he would do that for us sometimes? Maybe? Maybe not? Because once God speaks, Job comes to an understanding. There are angles and answers that he has figured on. God is infinitely wise and we, as humans, are not.

Job does repent for listening and contemplating “things he did not understand or too wonderful for him to know.” As people, we don’t always get it. We are left confused and wonder why. But God always, always, ALWAYS has a plan. Nothing gets by our Lord.

God had a plan that day for Job. He restored and doubled Job’s possessions including family. What plan does he have for us in suffering? I don’t know, but it begins with you sitting where you are and opening your heart to a loving God that wants to hear from you and heal that heart, so that you will be able to do all he intended.

I leave you with a verse that I got in my email this morning that was perfect in this lesson. Psalm 30:5 tells us, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” God knows you may be hurting because of an unrighteousness that you don’t understand, but he wants to come and rescue you, restore you and love you. The explanation may not be clear now, but trust Him, all will become clear in time.

I love you guys!
Frank

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