Should I forgive God?

This week our preacher talked about the lies we believe – how satan is the accuser of both God and man. While he preached, he reminded me of myself – how quick I am to get angry, how I always believe the conspiracy theory in my head and how I always feel the need to defend myself. I asked God: “What lies am I believing? Where do they come from?” It wasn’t long before I had my answer: I can’t trust God to watch out for me and whenever I am alone, bad things happen.

This came as no surprise. My life has been full of bad experiences, and over and over I have heard myself say, “Whenever I am alone, bad things happen!” It became almost prophetic. In fact, it has gotten to the point where somewhere deep inside of me assumes it will happen. Years ago, I had a hard time going out alone. I was afraid to walk a block by myself or go to the mall alone. I have gotten past those fears, but some still remain. Being alone does not literally mean “alone.” It means being without protection. That can be in a group. That can even mean in church. Or with a group of Christian women. If I am there without my husband, I feel especially vulnerable. The problem is that my husband is not always by my side. He might go talk to someone else, and then, it happens. That panic. I back myself up against a wall and wait. I hope that he will return quickly. And the longer I have to wait, the more upset I get with him. He is doing nothing wrong, but I somehow expect him to understand and never leave me. The problem is – he is not God. God is the only One who promises to never leave me. But can I trust Him?

What about all of those times that I have been hurt? Where was God then? When I step back and look over the events of my life – there is pain, but mostly as a direct consequence of my own actions. I put my hand in the flame – and funny – I got burned! How is that God’s fault? In fact, if I am honest, I should have gotten burned a lot more! I should have lost a hand – I should be dead. But I am not. And that was God’s mercy alone. But what about that main event? The one that changed my life? Where was God then, satan taunts. It has been 28 years. Twenty eight years! And yet the horror of that night still plagues me.

I was with a group of people. People I knew to see and say hello, but didn’t really know. You know…. kind of like church on Sunday morning. There was nothing that would have indicated that I was in any danger. Nothing that would stand out a any kind of warning sign. But as the crowd disbursed, I found myself alone. Well, not alone actually… but alone with people I really didn’t know.

My efforts to defend myself were fruitless. I was powerless against his strength. Did God abandon me? Was He powerless to help me?

No, actually. I was assaulted, but it could have been much, much worse. Was God absent? No. When I closed my eyes and called on Him, He was there. He held me so close. He whispered in my ear that He was with me. He didn’t let me feel the horror. And as I was being strangled – was I afraid? No. The Lord laid there beside me and filled me with peace. He assured me that if this was the end I would be with Him and surrounded me with His love. I did not fear death.

But all of the pain afterward – that must be God’s fault! Well, no. God didn’t tell me to find healing in drugs and alcohol and unhealthy relationships. No, in fact, I did all of that on my own. The pain that came after was a result of my own actions. But the moment that I cried out to Him, the moment that I called His name – Jesus – He was there! Finally, I was ready to let Him bring healing. And He did! How quickly He removed me from all of that bondage! As I release the pieces to Him, He restores, He heals. Now it is time to release the lies that I have held onto for all these years. To finally believe the truth that I have known all along: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut 31:8).

Do I need to forgive God? No. He has not wronged me. He has never left me… and never will.

 

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He Is

Over the last few months my body has been under attack. The constant assault beat me down and strained all the other areas of my life. All I wanted to do was sleep. It has been similar to getting a physical beating. Imagine being beaten and kicked by a gang of people. Down on the ground in a fetal position, arms covering your head. There is a point when the will to survive gives in to the will to let go. There is a moment when you think that if only you could pass out. When you become totally defeated and escape is the only option left.That is the way I have been feeling.

A couple of weeks ago I went to an evening praise service at the church. Even getting there was a feat.But while I sat listening to the others praise God (I didn’t feel like it), He spoke to me, “Don’t I deserve your praise?” I was stunned. He knows all about the way things have been and how I was feeling. That didn’t matter. The circumstances of my life did not change who He is.And He is worthy of praise. I realized that from the time that this began I had stopped praising Him. I would pray and beg for something to change.I would read my Bible hoping for something profound. But I stopped praising. I stopped looking at Him for who He is.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “…, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, …” And we know who He is: out provider, deliverer, healer, ruler, redeemer, Lord, and King. And we know as it says in Ps 22:3 , “But You are holy; Enthroned in the praises of Isreal.” If we know that God is present in the praises of His people and that He is all that we need, doesn’t it make sense that what we need must begin in praise? Is it any surprise that Jesus taught us to pray by first praising the Father? If I really recognize who He is, then my first response will be the same as the elders around the throne in Revelation (4:11a) declaring, “You are worthy Oh Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…”  Isn’t it here, in the presence of God that we find our healing and deliverance and provision?

I found myself repenting of the sin of holding back praise from the One who is worthy. I recognized Him as God. My God. I lifted my hands and cried out in praise. Not because He had healed me, but because He is the healer; not because He had delivered me, but because He is the deliverer. He is worthy. And in the process of giving honor where it is due, healing and deliverance came.

Praise the Lord!

The Power of Praise

I was sitting outside this morning trying not to feel sick. I have been particularly ill this week and I was hoping to forget about it for a while so I sat outside watching the wind blowing the trees. It reminded me of the power of the wind to move the large trees around and how much like God it is. Unseen, yet powerful. I started to praise God for the wind, the trees and His power to move them all. As I praised, I started to feel better. God reminded me of the power of praise. I don’t simply have to be an observer of God’s power as I watch Him work. I can participate by tapping into His power. The gateway to God’s power is through praise. Jesus taught us that in the Lord’s Prayer. As we lift our hearts in praise we step into the presence of God. Here anything is possible. What do you need today? Healing? Comfort? Joy? Strength? Love? Encouragement? Lift your heart in praise. You will find everything you need. Here is my most favorite song to help you step into the presence of the Lord. He is all you need!