If you read my last blog, I spoke on forgiveness and how important it is to our ability to live in the moment, live the abundant life. When we’re living in unforgiveness we’re in bondage to the person or circumstance that has already harmed us. We break free by acknowledging God’s sovereignty in all situations and acknowledging his character, that he’s all knowing, completely just, entirely trust worthy, and loves us so dearly. What has happened to us, and the fact that we may not understand it, does not change any of these things. God was there all along.
Today I want to talk about forgiving God. When we’re hurt, when we don’t understand why he’s allowed certain things or withheld certain things, we get mad at Him. I know you’ve been there. I’ve been there often! Without forgiveness, our relationship with him is damaged.
Why Forgive God?
We’re unable to live in the moment, when we’re not trusting God. We can’t trust him, when we feel we’ve been wronged by him. Though God, in his perfection, can do nothing wrong, some times decisions he makes, things he allows, can hurt us in the short term.
Our failure to acknowledge that we might need to forgive God puts a wedge between him and us. We’re hurt, we’re mad that something played out a certain way. We lost a job, a loved one, a dream was shattered, someone got sick, we don’t like our life status, everything is a struggle. Why won’t God just fix it?! Some times he just can’t. Not because he doesn’t have the power, or he doesn’t have the love, but because he knows the larger plan. This thing HAD to happen to play out his perfect will. Some times it not just about us. Or the development of our character through a circumstance is more important than a situation itself.
Do you know what? God wants you to come to him with all your heartaches, even if you think he caused them. In all good relationships, we must go to the one that’s hurt us and tell them. If we don’t get honest with God when he’s hurt us, that chasm between him and us will only grow. That bitterness takes root and we find ourselves all the further off track without him.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
Share the Hurt and Frustration
When I was in London, I met an amazing individual, who loves the Lord, but frankly, he’s broken her heart. Things have happened that have caused her to doubt. I don’t believe she doubts who he says he is or of what he’s capable. She doubts his love for her and whether he is a loving God, if he can allow so many hard things, especially to those who are trying to live according to his ways. Hurt and frustrated, she’s walked away from him. She doesn’t know what else to do.
Our meeting was certainly a divine appointment. If you know me, you know that the last few years God has allowed me to go through several trials that left me questioning his love, or at least his methods. I shared with her how often I’ve cried out to him for understanding.
I told her what I’ve learned most, is just keep talking. Like a human relationship, you need to communicate. You need to share your thoughts, feelings, and work through things together. I remember calling God to task on some of his promises in scripture. Dangerous! You can see I was pretty desperate. I begged him to meet me where I was, comfort me, give me strength, help it make sense, help me see anything differently, anything! I was more than once at my wits end.
I told her there were times that I too wanted to give up on Him, just turn away. But time and again, Peter’s words in John 6:67-68 resounded with me. Jesus asks Peter if he too will abandon him. Peter responds: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Some times I feel like he makes it hard to stay. Yet isn’t that my own lack of understanding, confusion, selfishness? I find when I have strayed, I’ve fallen into all sorts of temptations to ease my pain. Most regularly, these only caused more heartache and never filled me.
How Do You Forgive God?
God told me once that I doubted him, because I’d forgotten who he was. I did a study on all his attributes in hopes of remembering… his love, his mercy, his omnipotence, all of it.
Forgiving God is like forgiving anyone else. It begins by submitting to God’s authority. You remember he’s God, you’re not, and he just knows more than you. God would remind me of all the times he’s been faithful in the past and that he wasn’t about to stop being faithful now. The Israelites set up tangible reminders, their Ebenezer stones, to remember God’s faithfulness. I have a lot of Ebenezer stones, so I insist on trusting him.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 3:8
A couple weeks ago, in chatting with a friend, in occurred to me that many of my longings have gone unmet, many questions left unanswered, for upwards of seven years. And yet, as I look back, I see all the good that has come out of this journey. God is pruning me, preparing me. I know that God has big plans for me. He will answer many of my questions and fill my heart, but first, he is disciplining me, so I am not swayed by the world, but ready to be all he has planned.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7-11
It’s Not Just Me Who Cries
Last weekend I visited my nieces and two new nephews. How I cherish them! It occurred to me how hard it must be for their parents to discipline them, loving them as they do. But I know that it’s in loving them, that they MUST discipline them. Some times it kills the parent to discipline, as they watch their child cry and cry, hurt and confused. But it’s for their growth and protection.
God whispered to me, how hard its been for him, how many tears he’s shed, as he’s had to watch me all those nights I’ve cried… knowing that NOT rescuing me was for my own good. He knew that REALLY loving me meant that he could only comfort me at times and at others, just watch me struggle. As my Father, he wanted me to be ok, to understand, but seeing the big picture, he had to wait and just let me go through it. He knew I could and that I had to, to move forward.
CS Lewis wrote: “Isn't God supposed to be good? Isn't he supposed to love us? And does God want us to suffer? What if the answer to that question is yes? See, I'm not sure that God wants us to be particularly happy. I think he wants us to love and to be loved. He wants us to grow up. I suggest to you that it is because God loves us that he gives us the gift of suffering. Or to put it another way, pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world. You see, we are like blocks of stone out of which The Sculptor carves the forms of man. The blows of His chisel which hurt us so much are what makes us perfect.”
God’s adventure isn’t always easy. I know several of you, expressed to me that much of your current lack of faith, apathy, or anger/frustration with God, is because you feel he’s never really been there for you. He’s let you down, so you’ve walked away. I BEG you give him another chance. You can’t do this life alone, without him. Your greatest effort and struggle, is nothing compared to what he can bring you, if you trust him. We don’t understand his ways, but he does have a purpose for your pain. He hates to see us hurt, so he never wastes a hurt.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:17b-21
Talk to him about it. Tell him you’re pissed off! Goodness knows he’s heard strong words from me, some you’d hardly dare to use in front of God! Ask him to help you understand. Let him comfort you. Try to find a way to forgive him. Your ability to live the abundant life depends on it!
Just in closing… there’s a song that always seems to pop on the radio, when I’m most angry at God. It’s by MercyMe. It goes like this:
“I can count a million times, people asking me how I can praise You with all that I've gone through. The question just amazes me can circumstances possibly change who I forever am in You. Maybe since my life was changed, long before these rainy days, It's never really ever crossed my mind. To turn my back on you, oh Lord, my only shelter from the storm, but instead I draw closer through these times. So I pray:
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You Jesus, bring the rain
I am yours regardless of the clouds that may loom above because you are much greater than my pain. You who made a way for me, suffering your destiny, so tell me, what’s a little rain? So I pray: (return to refrain)”
Father God, we know that throughout scripture, you warn us that this world will be full of trouble, full of pain. It sure is, and there’s so much we don’t understand. In these times, we cry out, and unfortunately, some times we run away from you, hurt and angry. Help us to see your love, no matter the circumstance. Help us to trust you, bear with you. Give us something to remind us of your goodness, when it hard to believe. Help us to understand your character. Give us the humbleness and strength to yield to your will. Help us forgive you. Restore today, any broken relationships between you and any who may read this. Help them to talk to you. Listen to them and don’t be silent. As for me, help me to continue to stand firm. Protect me from the world's many temptations when I struggle to trust you. I love you, Lord. AMEN.