Can God Offend?
If God hasn’t offended you yet, He will. This principle is seen throughout The Bible (See Biblical Lessons on Offense blog post). Our response to offense is important to any relationship including our relationship with God. What we are willing to suffer without immediate explanation demonstrates how much value we have in the relationship. If I didn’t show up for an appointment with you, causing you to be inconvenienced, you would expect an apology the next time we see each other. In fact, there would be tension in our relationship until I explained why I inconvenienced you. With God, we often feel inconvenienced by a presumed lack of help, but often, we receive no explanation.
When we really want something for ourselves or our loved ones, and it appears God doesn’t care or doesn’t respond favorably, the pain can cause offense, since God could have given us our desire. We may not see it at first but anger and bitterness with others is traceable to God, who claims ultimate responsibility. Working through offense with God is an overlooked and underestimated obstacle to maturity, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control. It is here we have an unprecedented opportunity to trust God when we don’t get our desires.
Many people are angry at God for things in life that have not turned out the way they planned. It might be akin to an individual desiring immediate surgery because of great pain, but not having the experience to see that the pain will improve with time, and surgery may not be the answer, in fact, they may be worse off than before surgery. When God allows tragedy/pain/suffering, it is tempting to reason that either God is not good, not loving, not all-powerful, or not ultimately responsible.
God has not met our expectations of how we feel a loving God should behave. With the pain and frustration comes doubt. We distrust God’s love and concern for us doubting that He has our best interests in mind. We feel abandoned by God now seeming to face the pain alone. We feel rejected by God, He giving to others the blessings we believe we deserve. Whenever any distrust or suspicion arises in any relationship, distance develops. As we distance ourselves from God, we feel justified that we are protecting ourselves from being blasted by further rejection or disappointment. If God cannot keep us from pain, we will try to alleviate it ourselves. Yet we fail to keep ourselves from pain, and in choosing to distrust, we invite fear to become a major part of life. (Anxiety is often irritation at God for not acting.) Fear and faith are opposites. Faith focuses on future good things giving energy while fear focuses on future pain and removing the joy that God intends for us, no matter what is happening.
Most disappointment with God falls in the area of relationships:
- One whom you wanted to love you has stopped loving you the way you desire (or has died).
- One from whom you enjoyed a period of sweet relationship has chosen not to pursue you or moved on to someone else.
- Parents who died or have not been able to give you what you needed or desired to feel safe, significant and satisfied.
- Feeling God’s leading in a relationship/business only to have it fail.
- Feeling God’s leading in a relationship or business where another person was hurt and you caused their hurt.
- “Why didn’t you…when I asked?” (Luke 22:42).
Intellectual offenses, jealousy, pride and arrogance often result from unanswered questions related to genuine grief found in life.
Why should we try to identify resentment, irritation or distance between us and God? Because when we push God away, it only hurts us. Moving through difficult times believing that God loves us and has not abandoned us allows us to develop our strength and character. The option to complain about what God hasn’t done and be angry at God stops any forward movement, freezing us in a state of dissatisfaction. If you are going to fall, fall forward, making healthy choices and staying relational as you deal with disappointment.
Why Release Resentment toward God?
- We are good about complaining about what we don’t have.
- God has given us many gifts. We frequently take much for granted, rarely stopping to see the many things we could look to Him with thankfulness.
- He knows all about evil.
- He is God. He knows everything (2 Sam. 14:20, 1 John 3:20)
- He knows what it is to suffer and to be in pain.
- Jesus suffered much and knows what it feels like to be rejected by people He loved.
- He does not only love, He is the definition of love. God is love. (1 John 4:8,4:16).
- It only takes a small fact to change everything, faith. (Acts 3:16, Galatians 2:16-21, Phillipians 3:8-11)
- It takes faith to believe God is good when our feelings tell us otherwise.
- In the Bible, God assumes that we know He is good and only wants to do us good (Deut. 8:2).
- In giving Jesus’ life for yours and paying the penalty to buy your freedom.
- God clearly demonstrated His love for you. (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16)
- Nothing is for nothing in God’s economy (Rom. 8:28).
- “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”
- King David and Jesus both feel free to express their feelings. (Ps. 22)
- Lamentations 3 – Teaches us to lament and be honest, followed by praise. His mercies are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.
- Comfort is important to God
- He changes water to wine in John 2 to avoid embarrassment of the host at a wedding. However, if we value comfort more than character or our relationship to God, trials will upset us.
- Our comfort/pleasure is not the most important thing in life, but God knows it’s important to us.
- Faith is important to God. Enduring painful circumstances requires faith (Hebrews 11:6).
- Painful circumstances and loss may be testing, drawing us to evaluate our level of faith, trust and maturity (Deut. 8:3).
- Like a workout, we use our faith muscles when we believe good will arise from suffering, and that although we do not understand His ways, we choose to believe that God is good (Romans 8:24,25).
Can God offend? He certainly may do things that seem offensive. Is there purpose when we feel offended? Do we think His purpose is to destroy us? Is God against us? The Israelites believed this and wanted to go back to Egypt (Numbers 14:3,4). If you believe that true, you are listening to and comprehending a false understanding of God. If we can see through His eyes, (Jeremiah 29:11) His purpose for our lives is to find ways to wrestle together through the roller-coaster events of life and living, our faith developing as we engage Him in the venture. Can you see how holding resentment toward God stifles the progress He desires for you, your health, your relationships? Just as surgery is a painful process, ignoring the reason surgery is required may well be life ending.
The comfort comes much later, for the Israelites’ in the wilderness facing real issues, wondering why they were wandering for 40 years, and for us. Post-surgery peace is a choice and a process, resulting in a longer and hopefully higher quality life than pre-surgery. We submit to surgery because we trust the surgeon, putting faith in not only he/she alone, but the support staff, family and friends who will carry us through the surgical event and recovery; the recovery requiring both time and diligence. We certainly could continue resenting having the need to undergo the surgery, even years after the event and healing finished. Would that be beneficial? Consumed by such resentment confines us, keeping us from the celebration of freedom, a release from the cancer or impaired quality of life we would have or could have had without surgical intervention.
Both with God and in relationships, honesty and a healthy release of anger is the only way to embark on the journey toward healing. We do have a choice in the matter; remain stuck in bitterness, or choose to press forward toward joy and complete healing.
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