Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
Is God evil? In our society “wrath”, “vexing” and “sore displeasure” are words reserved to cruel tyrants not loving gods. Would a loving God ever try to interfere with our pursuit of happiness? Doesn’t He realize how important we are to ourselves? Doesn’t He realize that our self-esteem is under a constant assault from the world and that we are barely staying afloat? He does, He is the one who sent the waves to crash into our little boat. He loves us too much to leave us sitting serenely by the pool of Satan.
“[Pain] removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.” C.S. Lewis “The Problem of Pain”. (an excellent book I recommend on this topic)
The greatest mercy a loving God can perform is to disturb that pool; to send a trial, a hardship, a correction or pain to break our total fascination with our own image. To break us from the death-grip we have ourselves in. To coax us into the realization that we are not the center of the universe but in fact He is. To come back into an abiding relationship with Him instead of “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5) separation.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know? The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;
Trouble doesn’t come because God is evil, or absent, or full of anger towards us. Trouble comes because HE loves us! The most hateful thing a person (including God) could do is leave us to draw on our own dry well, to be left to our own devices in making a life apart from Him of ourselves. How futile? How empty is that life?
As I mentioned last post, when the God of all creation shows up His very nature disturbs our “peaceful” introversion. We can no longer pretend that we are as important as we think we are, or that our thoughts are as insightful and grand on the level ground beneath our Lord’s Cross.
I so often fall into the trap of thinking that the waves that destroy my image in that pool are God trying to destroy me. That they are a reflection of His indifference towards me. Instead, He wants us to look to Him as Peter did and walk above the tumult, rising above our fascination with ourselves, overcoming the fear of approaching Him:
Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.
Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
The waves don’t trouble Him.
God sends us difficulty in our life not to hurt us but to heal us. To teach us to fix our eyes upon Him and realize that He is the only way to stay above the waves. I heard a brother in Christ recently say instead of worrying about low-self esteem we need to have no self-esteem. We need to give up on making something of ourselves and start abiding in the work that our Lord Jesus is accomplishing in us. We need to be conformed into His selfless image:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
Pray that the Father not leave you alone, pray that He is gracious and merciful not to leave us where we are but that He would draw us to Himself through the waves and the loss of the image of self that we so desperately try to preserve. When we do that we can be thankful in tribulation. When He starts stirring in our lives we need to remember that He chastises every son he receives. He’s calling us out of this World and the waves are stripping away that cloak, that sin was hiding behind. He lets reality crash in on us IN LOVE.
These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.