Friday, February 15, 2013

What should we do if we are angry with God?

I heard recently that a friend A we used to know wrote online that he thinks God does not care. He was having tough times at work and went into debt. All the while unbelievers around him seem to get all the good breaks, but him. He wonders if God enjoys seeing him suffer. And he wonders if any of his hard work ever count.

Another close friend B also wrote to me recently about him quitting a full-time ministry path in some point in his life due to work stress, jealousy, doubts. And many years later he stopped attending church as he is disappointed at his lack of achievements.

Have you struggled in life? I think we all have our fair share. If you don't have them yet, don't ask for it to happen :). I used to work in a company and was doing quite well in my department and was about to be promoted the next year. However, an ex boss asked me to join his department. I agreed but shared with him about my promotion so he knew. But once in the new department they completely ignored my promotion and I had to start all over again. But I had worked hard in the past years and finally was going to be promoted and then that. Being reset. Having to start all over again. All along the ex boss knew he is not going to fulfill that obligation. I was not smart enough to be careful about that. I thought I was following the Lord's leading but how did it lead to that? Boy were that few years tough. Peers overtaking me by two grades. I see with my eyes how non-believers are blessed one by one, but me. Like my friend, A, I also asked God how can this be right?

Of all the people I see and hear and looking at myself, I do learn one thing overtime. That God is my Blesser, and I cannot bless myself. I can work hard, do my best, save money, give myself better things while being stingy to others. But these are not blessings. These are struggles. Blessings can only come from God.  

We need to cease from our struggles - all the self inflicted striving, trusting that our plans and actions will bring what we want with God's help. God is not an assistant to our plans. He is the Blesser and He does it His way. We need to stop trusting our plans to success. If we were such good planner and know exactly what's best for us, then why are we still struggling? No. God's plans are better. We need to jilt our plan and be open to His leading. He is our leader. Not an assistant to our plans. So we stop trusting in whatever we want to be best for us. And we ask God for help and then we rest. Trust that He will work it out. Let the Blesser go to work in our lives. This is very hard to do - doing nothing when all your senses scream at you that things are not well and you should do something. Pray this way.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, WEB)
Ask God. And then close your prayer with thanks giving, because He has heard you and will answer.

And you know what? God isn't slow to bless. God will not rest till He has completed that blessing in your life. It will be better and beyond anything you have imagined (Ephesians 3:20). 
Then she said, "Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will fall; for the man will not rest, until he has finished the thing this day." (Ruth 3:18, WEB) 
The verse above is a picture of Jesus (Boaz is a type of Jesus in the OT) working to complete His answer to our request.

But how does God sees a man who come to Him for blessings and then rest? Is this wrong? No. Not only is it not wrong to come to God for blessings, it is the antidote to being angry with Him.
Between man to man, it is more blessed to give, yes. But what can you give if you have not been given by God? Thus, even in being a blessing to others we need God to bless us first. It all starts from receiving from Him. 

Now between God and I, it is more blessed for me to receive from Him. If you want to do the right thing in life you cannot be anymore right than be in an act of receiving from Him. This statement may surprise you but it is a very good statement.

  • Once day Jesus went to visit Martha and Mary at their home. The bible said Martha was "distracted and troubled greatly" (Strong's 4049). Then Martha became mad as she was serving alone and Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, listening to His Word. Martha charged the Jesus to ask Mary, who has left her alone to serve, to help her, saying that He did not care. A person who is distracted and troubled by serving the Lord will finally get angry with the Lord Himself and with the people around them. Is it a great place to be to be mad at Jesus? No. Look at what the Lord said. The Lord said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her." What is the instruction of our Savior? That between Him and us, only ONE thing is needed. That is to sit down, rest and receive from Him. This story is found in Luke 10:38-42. Martha started out probably with good intentions. Like many believers they wanted to serve the Lord and neglected that receiving from Him is more important. Thus, something that supposedly started "right" in time becomes wrong at the end. Have you experienced serving and then being a bit displeased with God? Have you seen people experiencing this? Now did Mary do any good thing to earn that place? No, she just sat down, even if other people don't appreciate it, even if it is against the culture at that time. Today, you can just sit at Jesus' feet. You don't need to be qualified to do that. Don't strive. Sit down.
  • In the old testament there is a guy whose mum bore him in pain and called his name "sorrow" - Jabaz. What a sad life. Being treated that way by your loved one. How would you grow up? Inferior? Blaming God? Mad at others? How did his life turned around? Simple, he asked God to bless him. He said this to God, "Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it not be to my sorrow!"  This story is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. The bible says God granted him His request but the bible also said he is more honorable than all his brothers! To God, it is not our good work that impresses Him. God finds us asking from Him a very honorable thing. And that is how our life can turn around.
  • Jesus recounted the story of a son who asked his inheritance from his father, squandered it in a far away country in wayward living and then went home finally in order to be a servant to work for food. But what he did not know (and I am sure as believers we also did not expect this) is that his father, a picture of God, has been looking out for his son all those years the son was away. When the father saw him from a far, had compassion on him, ran to the son (against the culture of that time), hugged (Strong's 1968 - "to fall upon", the same word used when the Holy Spirit fall upon Cornelius' household, the first ever gentile believers recorded in Acts 10:44) him and kissed him repeatedly (Strong's 2705 - "to kiss fervently). Without the son asking for it, the father reestablished his son as righteous before him (gave him the robe), restored his son's inheritance (gave him the ring) and reinstated his position as a son (gave him the shoes). The father than killed the fattened calf in order to eat and celebrate, "for  this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found." Notice God isn't angry at the son. He did not scold him for coming back to receive some more. God's response to a wayward son is not discipline. It is an immediate response to giving some more, giving more than the wayward son can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Would we have agreed with this treatment of a wayward person? That in church we can tell this type of believer who insult God in His face, squandered away His blessings by his own wrong doings, that he can freely receive without first counselling the person to change his ways?
Let's consider friend A who is angry with God and wanted God to bless him based on his efforts, friend B who drifted away due to a lack of achievements and me in my company desperately trying to get a promotion. All 3 of us wanted desperately to receive blessings in our line of work. But instead of resting and asking God we strive and struggle, and go by our own actions and stick to our plans for success. And at best we end up confused with God. We can behave holy and everything when things are well but when things are not well, at the end it all boils down to can we get what we want from God? If we cannot we will think God doesn't care, we will fall away, we will struggle to try to bless ourselves and faces frustrations. 

That is why teaching people to receive from God is so important. 
  1. To God, only one thing is needed, sit at his feet and receive. Don't strive or struggle. Between Him and us, it is more honorable to receive.
  2. If only we can end our struggles and turn back to God as our only source, He would have ran out and pour forth His blessings on us. And you know what? It is not His discipline that will change our attitude towards Him. It is His goodness! Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4, WEB). No wonder the father in the prodigal son story was quick to restore.
  3. Like in the prodigal son story, the blessings of God is fast coming and it is given beyond our wildest imagination. Think about the father in the prodigal son story who ran to the son even as the son approahes and restored everything with haste. Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Ephesians 3:20, WEB). It would have opened up the mind of the 3 of us that God's blessings is beyond a good job, so-called natural achievements in public opinion, promotions. It is way richer, way better. 
  4. Being small minded, we were turning in circles, and we have no idea. But the secret even believers do not know is that only the blessings of God will turn our life around.
  5. And finally, a believer who can only serve well if he can receive well (think about Martha and Mary). Do you know Mary is the only woman who successfully anointed Jesus for his burial while the other woman who went after Jesus died never get to? Isn't that serving well? 

Right now, friend A has not got out yet. As for Friend B, God has led him back to church. He now looks at his life and realizes it is great. He has a wonderful business and a wonderful family. And now he knows a day in the house of the Lord is better than a thousand days in the world. As for me? The Lord led me to another job and I am so much happier and fulfilled. But what saved us is that we can come to God to receive His blessings unqualified. And His blessings open up our eyes, and causes our hearts to turn to Him. Indeed, His blessings are better than we can ever think, imagine or plan.

Notice the father in the prodigal son story said when the son is lost, he is dead. But when he is found in the Father's house, he is alive. How did the prodigal son finally find his way home and then experience life all over again? When he went home to receive a blessing. Leading people to receive blessings from God will save their lives.

It is not our hardwork nor goodness that finally saves us. It is God's faithfulness. It is God's goodness at work in our lives that saves us. We need that. We need to receive that. We desperately need it. Whether we know it or not.


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