“Dear Dr. Sala,” writes a listener. “First and foremost, I’m mad. Really mad at my life. It’s the pits. All of my life, God has been unfair to me. He put me in a dysfunctional family, made me endure things you wouldn’t imagine possible and made me ugly. I feel so ugly because people respond to me in a way that I don’t like.” The last sentence reads, “I wrote this letter as a last resort.” And it is signed, “Whipsawed by Confusion.”
The person who wrote that message has plenty of company. She described herself as “shy” and “sensitive,” easily hurt by other people. Question: To what degree is God responsible for your problems? Is He guilty because, as our friend suggested, He put her in a dysfunctional family, or put you in a poor family, or a family where a dad split and a mother is left to raise the five children?
How do you hold this God accountable for what you think is unfair in life, anyway? Since we have a problem getting Him into court, shall we just be angry and use the alibi of “I can’t help the way I am because of the bad deal I got at my birth?”
Now, I want you to know that I’m not making light of the seriousness of the perception of the problem. Individuals who write letters anonymously, such as the one I quoted, are genuinely troubled. They just don’t know what to do about it.
Sure, you can say, “Look, nobody chooses his parents any more than they choose to have a nose that is a plastic surgeon’s delight.” It’s easy to give advice, saying, “Just get on with your life,” but that doesn’t help the pain.
There’s a deeper issue. It is this: To what degree should we expect God to change the difficulties of our lives? Should I expect that at all? I’ve noticed a common theme. People are disappointed with God because He didn’t exempt them from the consequences of irresponsible decisions. Such was the girl who blamed God for her pregnancy because the man who fed her a line about her being the answer to his dreams walked away and left her with a baby and a nightmare.
Lest I be unclear, God does answer prayer. He often saves us from ourselves. He is a refuge and a shelter to whom we can flee in times of trouble. But even a casual reading of the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that He does not always deliver us from the consequences of irresponsible decisions. God doesn’t turn the stock market around because I made a bad investment, or turn the oil well which started pumping briny water into black gold, or reverse the process of aging and let my hair grow back in. He doesn’t automatically remove the calories when I overindulge or prevent me from getting into trouble financially when I spend money I don’t have.
“Well,” you may be thinking, “what does God promise to do?” Ah, good question. Without question, He promises to do exactly what He said He would do in the pages of the Book–which is why we need to rediscover the Bible. He tells us that what we sow we reap, and that the law of the harvest will be rewarded by the fruit of our labor. He does tell us that He is a God who forgives our sins and gives us the strength to live righteously. He is a faithful God whose mercy is extended to a thousand generations. It’s still true today.
Resource Reading: Galatians 6:6-10
Text: Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – October 10, 2017