This morning, I want to talk frankly with you. Over the last few years, I have been tested, tried and barbecued. lol. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but we Christians simply do not like to think about being helpless in the hands of our God. Oh, we love to quote all of the “positive” verses with conviction, but with all of our faith and with all of His grace, we still prefer to maintain some semblance of control to our lives.
When difficulties arise, we like to think there are certain steps we can take, attitudes we can adopt, or positive confessions we can make to alleviate our anguish and be happy again. Sometimes there are. However, anyone who has truly suffered will know that when it comes to the real thing, there is no help to ease the pain, at least no human help. Simply put, when we reach the “pits,” we aren’t going to be able to think our way out; nor hope, sing, pray, confess, nor even love our way out. Only the Lord Himself can do that, and when he does, as Exodus 6:6 puts it, “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke.”
That is an interesting verse . . . how will we know? We will know because nothing and no one else was able to do it. Frankly, when we are living in this kind of crucible, you will finally be able to understand what it means to be saved, what it means to be, as the Psalmist points out, “snatched away” from the brink of destruction. This is where we get down to the bedrock of the gospel.
Over the years, I discovered growing within me a brand-new dignity to being an ordinary human being and to all that that entails. I am finally free to doubt, to ask question of my Lord, to be overwhelmed, and to rejoice. To fear, and to be filled with faith. To have passions, and to be confused — in short, to be completely who I am! I think this describes the kind of believer all of us are called to be. What I discovered is that it is all right to be a human being. I found out that mercy is the permission to be human.
There is no way to simplify any of this. There are no easy answers to suffering — there is no such thing as getting a grip on ourselves or pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps. As Believers, our only bootstrap is the cross. Sometimes, when we lay hold of the cross, it can be comforting; but in all honesty, sometimes it is like picking up a snake. Even Jesus demonstrated this when He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Let me confess something to you. Over the years I have gotten angry with God; I have screamed at Him; I have even shook my fists in the air. I have gotten far angrier with God than I have ever been, even my children. No, I am not trying to defend my behavior, just simply explaining how we can be real before our Father. Frankly, even when I remember my fits of anger I am once again drawn to repentance.
Although, in the course of all this struggling, I did learn that these kinds of feelings are quite compatible with faith. Faith always involves our deepest passions engaged by the reality of Yahweh. The person of faith is someone who discovers how big their God really is.
For those of you who have read The Story of Job, will recognize some of this. I did paraphrase and rewrite a portion of the introduction.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.