If you are not anchored in the goodness of God, you will lower your theology to match your pain.
- Christa Black Gifford
If you don’t know her story, look her up on the Internet. Not long ago, her baby was born premature. She and her husband had a brief forty minutes with their child before the veil between this world and the next was opened, and their little one was ushered through.
I have been alive long enough, and gone through enough painful circumstances to know the truth of her statement, and to have learned that when I am hurting it is important to remember that God is good. He took care of me in the past, and He will do so again.
In the early years, I blamed God for causing the pain. I was angry that He did not intervene. Someone was at fault, and in my book the “buck stopped with Him.” For a couple of decades, I got my gray matter all bunched up trying to figure out free will versus God’s sovereignty.
Although I was well acquainted with my Bible, having read it through several times, I missed the verse in James 1 that states:
“Every good and perfect gift comes from God, with Whom there is no shadow of change.”
As a child, church attendance was a rare occurrence. I’m not sure if my parents knew that they were open between Easter and Christmas!
When I looked for a church to attend after a drinking bout (I was 12, and it seemed like the logical thing to do), the one I chose was big on putting “the fear of God” into us. It was a manipulative tactic to get us to behave and not make God look bad.
Since my step-dad was an alcoholic, his mood swings were unpredictable. Mom, my brother, and I did our best to avoid Dad’s wrath.
As is common, I equated God’s character with that of my dad and male spiritual leaders.
What none of them ever taught me was the goodness of God.
Thus, when pain came along, I believed it to be punishment, or because God didn’t care about me. In fact, they taught me that God was ever watching, waiting for me to blow it so He could slap me down.
I was unlovable. The fault was mine.
This put me on the treadmill of works. Do more, try harder, be better.
Pain was stacked upon pain. Nothing I did made a difference in how “God” treated me.
I had lowered my theology to match my pain.
What a gracious and patient Father we have, though. He stuck with me while I was misrepresenting Him to the world. “Be a Christian – you, too, can enjoy a God who whops you when He’s in a bad mood.” (I didn’t have any ‘takers,’ making me a failure at evangelism, too!)
He continued to pour His love on me, and to slowly correct my understanding of His character, His nature.
This last year, although I finally ‘get’ it, He flooded me with His love through various acts of kindness, and words of affirmation. By Christmas there was no doubt in my mind that I am genuinely loved, and without conditions. It’s a wonderful place to be!
As you know, if you’ve read my sparse posts this year, we’ve been in a season of training. “Wax on, wax off,” “sand the floor,” and all that. It felt like my Father was teaching me “muscle memory” – but I didn’t know why.
Today, I see that my hunch was correct. I did need to be able to move quickly and without thinking through each move beforehand in order to fend off the blows of the enemy.
I had a “tsunami” crash down upon me without warning. Most of the “structures” lay in ruins. One thing is certain…the Foundation remains solid and intact!
The enemy is attacking with a vengeance, throwing lie after lie at me. My earlier training is paying off, though, and few of them are causing additional damage.
Because God was determined to teach me that He is good – that He has no dark side – I am free to trust Him now.
“Why?” is a futile question when standing in the midst of wreckage. Once blame has been affixed, what changed?
“What?” is a better one. What do I do now? What is the take-away from this?
…Or “How?” How will You bring good from this? (For He will!)
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
- Isaiah 61:3
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust
- Joel 2:25
and my favorite:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
- Romans 8:28
For most of my life, I’ve “kicked God” when I was hurt…which, in fact, cut me off from my only true source of comfort and hope. In the next post I’d like to explore this topic a bit more.
Thanks for taking time to read!