Friday, May 30, 2014

Patience... Not Yet

There are times and situations that trigger deep feelings of anger, and I feel myself crying out inside, "WHY God?  WHERE is justice?!"  My heart enflames with indignation, and I groan with the Psalmist, "Who do the wicked prosper?"  And like the Psalmist, I can come to the point of becoming angry at God for not putting an end to it immediately and finally coming with peace and granting me the desires of my heart.

As Christians, we are often not comfortable with this.  We are not comfortable with strong feeling, strong core emotion.  We want to say something like, "Oh... well, let's not be proud.  Who are we to call something or someone wicked when we are sinners, ourselves?"  And this is a perfect example of how we can overthink things and impose our theology over the naked reality of Scripture, and in so doing we muzzle the God-given capacity to feel righteous indignation over what is broken in this world.

That indignation is a good thing, a healthy thing.  It does not make me sinless.  It makes me someone made in God's image, however.  It makes me someone who has eyes to see what is really going on and refuses to live in the numbing haze of trying to "be nice" all the time.

But when it does get to the point of anger with God, of accusing God of wrong, do we go too far?  I think we need to tread carefully, but no, I don't think so.  Remember Naomi in the book of Ruth?  She asked to be called "Mara," because "the LORD has dealt bitterly with me".  If there is one thing the Bible is filled with, it is unabashed honesty and strong emotion.  There is no "Christian filter" trying to throw a wet blanket over it, saying, "Now, now... let's not get angry or upset... strong emotions are bad... let's keep trusting God and calm down."  No, in the Bible, there are people who cry out in anger, frustration, disbelief, and horrible pain.

Besides, what I've realized about my anger toward God on those occasions is this:  it is based in hope.  It is based in faith.  It is based in believing that God can do something.  It is based in the belief that God ought to be looked to to do something.  And it is based in the hope that there will be a time when God will do something.  See, when in my anger and frustration I demand God fix things and stop those bad things and grant me my longings, I'm essentially demanding the age-to-come, the banquet feast, come to the here and now.  I'm demanding that the Promised Land exist in Egypt.  We both know that is not the way things work.  But it still shows my yearning for the Promised Land.  It shows that I am banging on the gates, sword in hand, waiting for His return.  "Come on!!!  When???!!!"

And God is angry along with me at the wrongs in this world.  And He says, "In time...  I am coming quickly.  And I will make all things right."

This is where I find a calm in the eye of the storm.  This is where I see that everything I long for is mine already, secured and delivered in Christ, along with all the treasure I store up as I faithfully carry the crosses he bestows upon me as I walk through this life in Egypt.  It is mine, but not yet.  I have it, but it is yet to be realized.  And though it may not seem real, it will be more real than anything experienced in this world.  Truth be told, this life is like a vapor.  There are many good things in it, but they are mine for a season, along with the paths and connections He calls me to.

Lord, I will do whatever you want.  I am yours.  And I await You and all that You have for me when You return.

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