Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Our Responses Fail: Finding Hope When We Blame God [Part 2]

  This is quite late in the posting! As it turns out, my original draft got accidentally deleted and I nearly went insane from losing all that I had written! So, I am recreating my original post from memory, but it may turn out much shorter.

  In my first post, I wanted to emphasize God's heart for us when we fail to trust Him. While many might think He is disgusted with our human reactions and has little time to deal with us in our anger and disappointment, I truly believe the God shown in Scripture actually reveals the opposite.  He desires an honest heart, not feigned submission or lip-service. We know from Scripture that the Lord takes no pleasure in outward service or obedience. He is in pursuit of our hearts and He greatly desires us to bring everything to Him, even the most raw and ugly parts of ourselves that are questioning Him. The "silence" of our Lord to our prayers is an invitation for us to trust in Him, who He is, not merely for what He can do. Perhaps the most remarkable and incomprehensible attribute of God is His patience. After all, if God is love (1 John 4:8) and if love is first defined as patient (1 Cor 13:4), then is not this how He responds to us in our relationship with Him? It is all too common that we have come to think of God has a grouchy schoolmaster, holding his pocket-watch near, watching his students carefully to make sure they are following the list of rules and instructions he has outlined to them on the blackboard. Somehow, this view of God as having a time-table and putting demands on us to be at a certain level of maturity and growth has taken a hold of us and stunted us. Even in the Old Testament, God was never shown to be this way. Although the Israelites suffered much (and often for long periods of time) from the consequences from their idolatrous and rebellious choices, He never withdrew His promises and gifts from them. At the end of every dark tunnel, His light was shining, always bringing them restoration. In Exodus 34:6, it is written, "And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth..." The Hebrew word for long suffering there means patient and slow to anger. This is who our Father is. It's not just a part of Him, it is inherently Him. And it was manifested through His Son when Christ revealed himself as "gentle and humble" (Matt 11:29) and then was "led like a lamb to the slaughter" (Isaiah 53:7). His heart is docile and tender towards us in all faithfulness.

 In the words of author and preacher, John Lynch, "the motivation of grace will always bear greater fruit than the coercion of demand." Shockingly, the Lord has created us to only function and grow when grace is given with patience. Oddly enough, time-tables, rules, and lists do not bring about true maturity and trust in a relationship. Only slow and enduring love will bring about a great harvest in our hearts. The Lord, knowing this and having designed us this way, did something potentially "risky" to bring this about. He imparted His Spirit to us through the work of His Son on the Cross. Instead of completely eradicating our fleshly human ways, He instead births us anew, granting us a new identity, a new heart. Then, He entrusts us to trust Him with everything concerning our eternal salvation and our earthly lives. He doesn't remove any hindrances, distractions, or temptations. He merely gives us the gift of Himself and then patiently walks with us through every valley and mountain-top. In human terms, this is the wrong way to deal with the human race. The usual thought is that one must employ control and manipulation, as well as weigh the rewards and punishments. Instead, the Lord offers freedom to each one of us and is patient to see us perfected in our freedom - the choices we make, the thoughts we think, etc. Even as we make choices that hurt Him or that bring harm to ourselves or others, He continues to stand with us when we refuse to acknowledge or trust Him. The Spirit speaks gently to our hearts, reminding us of our identity and how the Father particularly values and treasures us. This is His patience seen in action, spoken and poured out into our hearts. Solutions will not bring our allegiance to Him. Only the quiet presence of a friend who will never leave our side, ever.

 One of the most profound things that I have learned about our Lord is that He "is not afraid to risk the consequences of what we do with His grace" (On My Worst Day, John Lynch). The very same is true for His long-suffering love. When I spurn Him and His Word, He waits. When I scream at and blame Him, He receives it all with open arms. On your darkest of days, when you have failed to trust Christ with all of your life, when you want to turn your heart from Him, when you feel more hurt by Him than loved by Him, He doesn't flinch. His unwavering devotion stands in the fiercest storms and declares to us, "I am with you."

 When our responses fail, when we blame God, He does not reject us for He is utterly and completely given to our sanctification and is perfectly patient to see the timing of our growth fulfilled. He is so sure, so confident that He, having begun a good work in you, will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).


  1. Oh the agony of losing an entire first draft!! That first draft is the hardest to write and losing it and having to pull together all those thoughts and insights back into a coherent, forward moving message is crazy making. I feel your pain. :)

    I'm so glad you persevered though, and re-wrote it. This brought me peace and encouragement as I read it- I find that these lessons I have to continue to re-learn. His grace is just so mind blogging. It really doesn't make human sense, which is why, maybe, that it's so hard to remember.

    In the last few years or so, I've been catching on to the fact that love itself is not efficient. Efficiency is a value of the world and especially American society, but I don't really think that it's one of God's values- it's certainly not a fruit of the Spirit. In fact, it seems almost to go against many of them- like joy, patience and long suffering.

    It makes me think of this quote, and the quote in turn reminds me of Jesus: "There is nothing more beautiful and freeing than living with conscious dedication to love. The way of love invites us to become vessels of love, sharers in grace rather than controllers of achievement. It invites us toward increasing freedom from all our slaveries and addictions. It encourages us to ease our grasping and striving for false security. It asks for vulnerability rather than self-protection, willingness rather than mastery." (The Awakened Heart, by Gerald G May)

  2. Aw, thank you so much for the encouragement! It is good to know others can relate to the pain of losing a first draft. I was so angry and confused - I am almost didn't finish this post this week! haha! But I think it helped to summarize my first draft this way and keep it shorter and less of a ramble.
    Wow, that quotation by Gerald May is powerful! I think I need to look into that book now. Thank you for sharing it! I can totally agree with you...His grace doesn't make sense and it is hard to remember in the midst of life. It's so contrary to our old nature and the way of this world. You make a really thought-provoking observation about love itself not being efficient. I never would have known how to put it into words, but I think you just did! :) I think, oddly enough, that is what makes Him so comforting, even in the midst of fiercest storms. That inviting vulnerability and freedom from all things is a refreshment to a burdened soul, I think. Somehow, at the end of a long hard loss or pain, I just know it's gonna by O.K. because He has me, all of me.
    Thank you for your thoughts! I love reading what you share. I do read some of your blog posts and enjoy your thoughts from your inner life and your stories. Very beautiful and reflective!