Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Anger (01/24/05)
TITLE: Offended by Him
By Robin Wisch
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Thank you, dearest nephew, for soliciting my counsel. I am honored by your request. You’ve always been dear to me. Your Aunt Sally often commented how very much like me, you are. Now approaching my seventieth year, it seems like only yesterday that she passed, though it has been thirty-seven years.
Regarding your concerns: Though uncertainty abounds, your spiritual sojourn has been leading you to this point for twenty years. It has been ten years since the passing of your dear Elizabeth. During that time, you’ve agonized as your ministry has apparently disintegrated before you. One serious relationship went gravely awry. Your son has opted for the “Gothic” look with tattoos, while your best friend has betrayed you. Furthermore, everything you touch turns to stone; your hopes become “bitter waters” before you have a chance to drink. Accurate assessment?
Michael, Jesus made a strange statement to his followers:” Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) To these God-fearing, law-abiding Jews, this statement was shocking. Prohibition from drinking blood was forbidden by Yahweh from the earliest of times. Eating raw flesh was also abominable. Yet, Jesus made the statement allowing the seeming contradiction towards God’s law to rest upon them. Later, “many of his disciples turned back at that point and no longer followed Him.” The contradiction was too great for them. Jesus’ words and the truth they had of Yahweh, simply did not mesh. Yet, Jesus allowed His words to appear absolutely heretical. He let their full weight fall upon them. These followers weren’t new. They’d been with Him awhile. They’d followed him zealously when suddenly, their belief system was rocked by the very one they called Messiah.
Remember when you were converted at eighteen? Two years later, you were married. One year after that, you were thrown into crisis: namely, Elizabeth’s terminal cancer at the tender age of twenty-one. Nine years of unfathomable suffering followed in which every fiber of your belief in the faithfulness of God was shredded. Endlessly, your prayers went unanswered. Frequently, she went for healing. Oft, accused of sin and unbelief, Elizabeth agonized within. Your beautiful bride turned frail and gaunt; a wretched shadow of the woman you married. Your peers advanced their careers; built financial assets; attended high profile churches, while you spoon-fed Elizabeth a mixture of cottage cheese and yogurt daily, only to have it vomited back in your face…daily.
Others reveled in blessings. You, in the darkness, listened to the halting breaths of your dying wife…questioning your enigmatic Lord. Your belief about your God and your experience simply clashed in your mind. Worse still, your Lord remained silent.
“Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matt. 11:6) The reality of this statement was and is, present today. Grasping your faith during that time seemed an insurmountable task. Yet, that was all He required of you. Of course, you knew it not because prior to this, you were “a strong Christian.” You knew of God’s power and had experienced answered prayer. His very word guaranteed His faithfulness! Of course, you’d always defined faithfulness through human eyes.
At your end emotionally, exhausted physically, and broken spiritually, you cried out like Job, “He crushes me with a tempest; He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me with bitterness.” (Job 9: 18)
Nephew, understand this: There is a fine line between honesty and resentment.
Having your “why’s” and “what for’s” answered won’t suffice. Those answers don’t lessen pain. God wants honesty from you, true. Express it and discard it, quickly. Speedily, a root of bitterness may arise…toward your Lord. Clearly, this happens when nothing changes, circumstantially…for a long time.
Michael, you were offended by Him. From your perspective, your Lord let you down. In your eyes, He was unfaithful. To you, He seemed to contradict His own word. For a decade, Michael, you have been mad at God. Your anger has cut off His presence, though His blood still covers you.
Simply turn, humbly confessing your anger towards Him. Repent of your bitterness and He will close the gap between you and Him. Your resentment will dissipate in light of his love.
In my next letter, you’ll receive insight, which might clarify the issues, which have raged within you for so long, but we must take care of this anger issue first.
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