Monthly Archives: April 2014

Mad at God or Angry with God?

Why is it that when things go wrong in this life, it is so easy for us to blame God or get mad at God? Part and parcel of being a sinful human being is to question God or reject God when things don’t go the way we wish they would. Part of the curse of not being God-like since the fall into sin is an inherent distrust of God or even disgust with Him when we don’t get our way. What else should we expect from members of a human race which, from the very beginning, has rejected God and His way?
Job is the picture of “unjust” suffering in the Bible. In a matter of days he lost his herds, his home, his servants, his wealth and all of his children. If that wasn’t enough, he lost his health to a debilitating disease that caused painful festering sores to cover his body. To add insult to loss and injury, Job’s wife, the only remaining member of Job’s immediate family, turned against Job at his lowest point saying, ““Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job 2:9 ESV.)
Job’s wife epitomizes a natural reaction to suffering. She was undoubtedly suffering right along with Job. She also lost her home, wealth, servants and children. Her suffering led her to turn away from her husband and God. Her reaction was typical. And as much as we may want to believe we have the patience of Job, most of us, most of the time, react to hardships like her instead of Job.

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and the color of a beautiful sunrise.

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and the color of a beautiful sunrise.

It seems things couldn’t have gotten worse for Job. But when we consider how God continued to bless Job, we recognize that things most certainly could have been worse. In the midst of his suffering, Job didn’t lose the one thing that matters most—the love of his faithful God.
By any earthly measure, Job’s life stunk! But Job measured his life not by what he did or had or by any earthly means. He measured his life by the love he received from God.
The love of God birthed a faith in Job that was able to see God working through his difficulties. Even when his three friends (who treated Job more like an enemy) came to blame Job for his bad luck, He continued to praise God. This is remarkable. His wife cursed God, or at least encouraged Job to do so. His friends intimated that Job had been cursed by God. But Job doesn’t curse.
Instead of cursing God for calamity or cursing his friends for their insults, Job praised God and thanked Him for His unending love:

“Oh that my words were written!

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and the color of a beautiful flowering Red Bud tree.

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and the color of a beautiful flowering Red Bud tree.

Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:23-27, ESV)
Here, Job asserts an unshakeable faith in God’s unending favor and the physical resurrection of the dead thousands of years before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ! In Job’s mind, the sufferings of this life pale in comparison to the glories that will be revealed when all the saints rise to new life in Christ. His faith taught him to trust God always. His trust led him to praise God always.

Purple is the color of passion and suffering and beautiful spring flowers.

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and beautiful spring flowers.

Job didn’t have perfect faith. But he did have saving faith. His saving faith brought him patience and endurance. It didn’t lessen the pain and grief he experienced, but it equipped him to deal with pain and grief in a godly way. In Job, we see how we are able to endure suffering because of the love of God in Jesus Christ.
Job didn’t know the earthly name of his Redeemer because his Redeemer hadn’t yet been born, but he praised Him just as we do. He turned to His Redeemer to save him, just as we do. The faith Job was given by the Holy Spirit has been given to us so that we can trust and see the redeeming love of God at work in our lives.
Contrary to what much of pop-Christianity teaches, faith in Christ doesn’t eliminate suffering. True faith equips Christians to endure suffering. True faith also enables us to work with God to reduce the suffering of others who also suffer in this life.
God is the Author of Life. He created human beings to live, grow, love and enjoy life. Therefore, God opposes everything that interferes with life, growth, love and the enjoyment of a godly life.
Faith which apprehends the God of life and love doesn’t get mad at God when things don’t go our way. Instead, mature faith leads us to be angry with, not mad at, the God Who Himself is opposed to everything that hinders life and love. Just as we hate the things that interfere with our lives, God also hates everything that stands in opposition to human beings living life as He designed it. He hates the work of those who undermine life. He hates the current “natural order” which includes death.
Hear the psalmist on this thought:

Purple is the color of passion/suffering and many beautiful iridescent colors on a butterfly’s wing.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:19-24)
Many are uncomfortable with a God who is pictured in the Bible as a God who hates. When we recognize that His hatred is directed not at us, but at the things of this world which get in the way of life and love, we can take comfort in a God who hates.
Faith leads us to work with God in this life to promote the causes of life and love. True faith enables medical professionals to see their work as the work of God who restores physical health. Police and firefighters also work with God to allay the damage and loss caused by evil. Farmers working to produce a greater yield work with God to alleviate hunger. Employers provide for their workers. Parents provide for and nourish their children. The list goes on and on.
The next time calamity strikes your life or a loved one, instead of being mad at God, get angry with Him. Instead of cursing Him for what He hasn’t done, bless Him for what He has done for you. Do everything you can to find a blessing and to be a blessing to others regardless of circumstances. When you lean on the God of life and love, your curses become blessings. You will discover a new strength and ability to thank and praise God during difficult times. You can do these things because the same God who led Job to trust and thank Him always is at work in you!

This is the fourth of four blogs based on Psalm 139. If you would like to be notified when a new blog is posted, please click on the “Follow” icon on the left side of the black banner on top of the page. Thank-you for following and thanks for sharing!!

A Life Well Lived

Marcello went to be with His brother Manuel and His Savior early this morning. He was cradled in the arms of his mother while father and oldest brother Mateo looked on. His passing was unexpected, tragic and sad.
“What good can come of this?” many have asked. “Why did God do this?” “Why didn’t God do that?” Such are the questions that flow from our grief.
Today, I find myself reflecting on what it means to live a well-lived life. There are many ways to measure a life. Longevity and quality are standards often used to measure a person’s life. According to these human measures, it may seem that Manuel, Marcello and their family have been cheated by God.
Marcello and Manuel’s lives were very short. They outlived their prognosis, considering how they entered into this life. But their earthly lives will be measured in weeks and months when most of us would prefer to live many, many years.
Quality of life is often measured in freedom. We long to be free and to move around. Their complex and difficult medical conditions prevented them from living long apart from the machines that preserved their lives. They lived their entire lives in a few cramped NICU rooms. This is not the quality of life any of us would choose to live.
God measures their lives different. He measures their lives in love. And when we see how much these little boys were loved, their lives were in no way lived in vain.

The Star of Bethlehem marks the place where tradition holds Jesus was born to Mary.  Born as a little one to open the Kingdom of God to all "little ones" of His Heavenly Father.

The Star of Bethlehem marks the place where tradition holds Jesus was born to Mary. Christ was born as a little one to open the Kingdom of God to all “little ones” of His Heavenly Father.

God loved these two little ones enough to give them life. Their Savior poured His own life out for them on the cross. He also rose from the dead so that they too may rise. We will lay the earthly remains of Marcello into the ground for sleep. But both he and Manuel will rise from the grave to eternal life.
God also tells us that the littlest of these have a special place in His heart:
“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16 ESV)
This doesn’t mean that God loves little children more than the rest of us. Rather, it means He loves us as much as He loves them because we are all His children. Human beings tend to love people conditionally depending on what they can do for us. God loves unconditionally, based upon what He’s done for us. Marcello and Manuel have received God’s love in the most innocent of ways. They are eternally blessed for it.
Those who have known and loved and cared for these boys are also eternally blessed for their sake. Jesus promised, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40 ESV) The outpouring of love for these twins has been immense. Well-wishes and prayers have been sent from all over the globe. None of these prayers have been said in vain.
As an eye witness, I assure you, these boys experienced no lack of love during their short earthly lives. Mom doted upon them. Dad carried them and cared from them so as to make all fathers proud. Their grandparents and brothers surrounded them. Their nurses and doctors are living proof of God’s love at work in this world. For all of this, these boys were blessed more than most could ever hope.
What is the measure of a life well-lived? A life well-lived isn’t measured in “how long,” “how much,” or “how good.” To live a life well-lived is to be well-loved.