It’s been a dark time for us recently as a family. I’ve been pretty silent about it on purpose. I always want to be careful to let things settle before acting. Well, for the most part I do anyway. Gun smoke makes for hard target acquisition, know what I mean?
We rarely see thing clearly in the middle of the fight. I’ve been in a few fights in my day and if I’m being honest I have to say I don’t remember much about them. It’s pretty chaotic in the middle of a fight and the details can get fuzzy so you have to let things settle before commenting.
So, a week or so ago, I lost my job. I won’t go in to all the gory details of what happened. I’ll just suffice it to say that I feel I was unjustly fired in a callous manner. There are always two sides to every story and I’m certainly not saying I had nothing to do with it but the way it was handled was, in my opinion, unprofessional and uncaring.
But my point in writing this isn’t to bash the people I used to work for so I’ll get to the point. The last two years have been really hard for my family. Actually I’m gonna go ahead and call it what it is…we’ve gotten the crap kicked out of us the last two years.
Between a failed church plant, moving to two different states, being fired with nothing to fall back on, it’s been rough. We’ve cried a lot and prayed a lot and said some pretty ugly things to God (I have at least, not sure about my wife).
In the Bible we see a lot of this. People getting the crap kicked out of them. Now in fairness, they all deserved it (except Jesus) due to their bone-headedness and sinful hearts. So I guess in a way I deserve it too, ‘cause anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve pulled some bone-headed stunts in my day and I am most certainly sinful (ask my wife and kids).
But also in the Bible we have the Psalms. What a gift of God’s grace to us the Psalter is. See, those writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, help us to know that it’s totally okay to say what we need to say to God when times get rough. This leads me to what I really wanted to say in this piece.
1. I love that I can express myself freely to God.
During these last two years, I’ve said some things to God that I won’t repeat in this forum. I’ve said some things to God that, if I were God, I’d have struck me dead for. Some pretty harsh words have flown out of my mouth and heart toward God. I used to feel guilty for it.
Then I read the Psalms. We read things in the Psalms like ‘God, what are you doing? Are you even there anymore? What are you thinking, God?’ (that’s all paraphrased of course) I mean, really. Go and read through the Psalms today. You’ll see there some pretty raw emotion and some harsh words and questions that the writers had for God. In their pain they cried out.
And God listened. And spoke back. And the writers worshipped.
2. Am I trusting in my ability to trust or in Him?
Let me explain this one. This one is kind of like people saying, “You just gotta have faith man.” As if faith itself were to object of your faith; as if the goal is faith itself rather than Christ. See I can depend on my ability to trust, which in turn becomes me being confident in myself. Or I can trust in Christ. See when Christ walked around down here and lived his fully human (and fully divine) life, he had to trust in something as well. He had to trust in the Father’s plan. He didn’t trust to his own strength but rather cried out to the Father for strength.
Think about that for a second. If the very Son of God cried out to the Father for help in his time of need, how much more should we?! Even Jesus didn’t stand on his own strength but rather depended on the Father’s will. If Jesus himself leaned so heavily on his Father, how much more should my own leaning be on Him?
I too easily want to lean into myself and my own ability to suck it up and drive on rather than throwing myself on God’s mercy and crying out for His help.
3. Am I okay with God if things don’t go well?
Now this is a hard question. Don’t dismiss it too quickly thinking that you’re some sort of super Christian whose faith is unbreakable. Sit in this for a minute and ask God to reveal your heart to you. I gotta tell you, if you’re anything like me, this answer won’t come too quickly and you shouldn’t be too glib about it.
If you look at people in the Bible, things rarely worked out well for them. Let’s look at few examples.
Moses never got to cross into the promised land.
David’s son tried to kill him and God forbid him from building a temple and he lost his illegitimate son to God’s judgment.
As far as we know, most of the OT prophets either died in exile or were killed by their own people for preaching against their sin.
As far as we know, all the apostles (with the exception of John who was tortured and exiled) were executed for their faith in Christ.
I’d say that is the epitome of things not going well. So that leads me back to my question to myself. Am I okay with God if things don’t go well? If I’m being honest, for a long time, that answer would have been no. I had this idea in my head that God somehow owed me.
I think we all do this in some way. If we’re really willing to be honest with ourselves, we think God owes us. I did. I mean, I walked away from my career, moved into a lost city to plant a church, worked a job to provide for my family…etc etc.
So God owes me right? I did it for Him. Or at least that’s what I told myself.
Then I come to the last two years and they’ve sucked. I questioned God and said rude things to Him. How utterly ungrateful I was and am.
The only thing God owes me or you is death and damnation. My sin, your sin cries out to God for eternal punishment, never ending fire.
But God is so gracious. So kind. In His mercy, He doesn’t give us what we deserve because no matter what we’ve done, good or bad, it’s as filthy rags before His holiness.
No, rather than pour out His wrath on us, He has poured it out on the Son. Christ has taken it all for you and me and now we stand before God the Father not only as one who has never sinned but, covered in the blood of His Son, as one who is righteous. Oh what grace He has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God!
I’d say that things will work out just fine in the end.
Soli Deo Gloria!