Apart from the daily quotes aspect of my Internet ministry where I freely use other people’s direct quotes, for the first time in the seven-year-old ministry, I am adapting another person’s message for my weekly devotional messages. I recently read a book titled “Forgive God!” written by Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe. I was greatly touched by the book, and by the kind permission of the author, I decided to adapt the message of the book in serialized messages. (All the direct quotations are from the book.) Here is the first part of the adapted message:
“‘Don't call me Naomi,’ she told them. ‘Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me’” (Ruth 1:20-21 NIV).
The title of this message sounds somehow blasphemous. How can one forgive God? The normal thing is to ask for God’s forgiveness. However, God needs many people’s forgiveness because life experiences, even from the experiences of people in the Bible, confirm that suffering is inevitable. When suffering happens, one may blame oneself if one sees clearly the link between cause and effect of one’s action and its consequences; one may blame other people, influences, or the devil; and one may hold God responsible for one’s suffering since it is believed that God is able to do all things and can stop any evil from coming upon people. If this third possibility occurs, then one can be angry with God, and one has to forgive God because “Harbouring anger and resentment against anybody, let alone God, has spiritual, emotional, physical and social consequences.”
The problem of evil and suffering has made many people to bluntly deny the existence of God. Those that still believe that He exists find it difficult to believe that an all-powerful, loving, and kind God will allow evil or suffering to happen to His children. Why did He not stop the evil? Why does He still allow the devil, man’s archenemy, to have his evil way? This makes many people to be angry with God. They need to forgive God because “God does not always do what people want Him to do nor does He do it when they want Him to do it, let alone do it how they want Him to do it.”
To be angry, even with God, is not a sin. However, one must not let one’s anger lead to sin. Apostle Paul admonished, “If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. Don't give the Devil a chance” (Ephesians 4:26-27 TEV). Many people were angry with God in the Bible. Moses was angry with God when his initial request to Pharaoh about the Israelites backfired (see Exodus 5:20-23). The people of Israel were angry with God on many occasions though they allowed their anger to lead them to sin (see Numbers 21:5). Naomi’s anger was classic (Ruth 1:19-21). Imagine how Mary and Martha would be feeling as they watched their beloved brother, Lazarus, agonized till death even after they have sent for Jesus to come and heal him (John 11). Both of them nearly said the same thing when Jesus Christ finally came after Lazarus was buried for four days (cf. John 11:21, 32).
Well, we know the end of each of the instances mentioned above. In what way have you also been angry with God? This will be the thrust of the second part of this adapted message next week.
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
You can send your comments/reactions directly to Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe through his email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Deegbe is a trained counsellor and ordained pastor of Ghana Baptist Convention. God bless you!