“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.”
If you seek out a definition for the word forgive, here is an example of what you’ll find:
- Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake
- To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon
Keep those definitions in mind as you read this important counsel from Joni Eareckson Tada on the One Person who will never require your forgiveness…
Believe it or not, there is a strange teaching around these days that says we need to forgive God when awful things happen, not only earthquakes and tsunamis, tornadoes and hurricanes (the big stuff), but little things. When people have gone through deep pain or hurt, an abusive situation at home, some Christian counselors advised that in order for emotional healing to take place, one begins by first forgiving God for allowing the abuse to happen…
Forgive God? Don’t those counselors have it backward?! The Bible never directs us to do such a thing. To “forgive” God implies that he has done something wrong, but has he?
Listen to this story from the Bible. It’s from the book of Job, right in the first chapter and right after all those happy things began happening to Job. Starting with the 18th verse, it says, “…another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind…struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead…’ At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. (Now listen to this part). Then he fell to the ground in worship…In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
The Bible says that nothing—not cancer, blindness or eviction from our homes; not even abuse from others—nothing can separate us from the love of God. So are we to forgive Him for loving us too hard? Our human inclination or, at worse, our darkest emotions may want to charge God with wrongdoing, but God’s dealings with us are always motivated by love and concern for our souls.
So what is the right thing to do when we are faced with suffering that seems so bizarre and twisted and unwarranted? Listen to this great counsel from Hebrews 12:3. It tells us what to do; it says: ”Consider him (that is Jesus) who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Amy Carmichael once said that we should never forget that the way of the Cross leads to the Cross; it doesn’t lead to a bank of flowers. And if we do think that the way of the cross leads us to comfortable things, all easy and bright, then no wonder we become surprised when the way is rough; no wonder we consider it strange when fiery ordeals come. Amy Carmichael said that if we’re looking for a bank of flowers, then we know nothing of Calvary’s love.
So do we forgive God? No, rather it’s asking God to forgive us. And that’s why we preach the gospel to ourselves every morning; we need reminding when it comes to the way of the cross…
Please let’s not allow our emotions to deceive us into thinking God needs to be set straight. When it comes to suffering let’s ask God to set us straight.
May we never be so foolish as to think that we as thoroughly sinful human beings would ever have reason to forgive our perfectly holy God. He is good, and He does good—at all times.
Photo: S Braswell