Many of us default to perceiving God as a Divine Master of the Skies surfing clouds in search of the next soul to extract joy from. But does God have a magic straw, stronger than those Slurpee Straws at 7-11 that intentionally sucks up any happiness we may have? How do we view God when bad things happen? When everything crumbles, what does that mean about His character?
If we’re going to be brutally honest with ourselves, friends, I think we would admit that we have at least once in our lives, rearranged the character of God.
I was out with my teeny weeny dog today enjoying the rays and the rocking of my swing beneath an oak tree when at least a half dozen birds of prey soldiered together in the sky in search of their next meal. I knew my dog (who isn’t even ten lbs.) would be a sure target for their next meal. Scooping him up in my arms, I held him close to my chest and scurried inside. In the process, he bit me (not usual for him). And he floundered in my arms, trying his best to jump away from my protective grip. If a dog could pout, then I would say it occurred in this moment.
He was ticked with me. He still had his usual itinerary to follow which I interrupted: chasing squirrels, rolling around in the dirt, sniffing blades of grass perfumed with animal excretions, and repeat. He didn’t want to be interrupted. But I did. As sorry as I was to disrupt his fun, I knew I had to.
But what he saw as a kill-joy moment from his master, I saw as a time of rescue and protection.
Isn’t this just a little like God? I’m having fun, doing my own rolling in the grass thing when He steps in and plants me in a not-so-fun situation. I “bite” Him in my own way. I try to struggle away from His arms that feel like a vice but are really a clasp of love. I sulk. I question His goodness and character.
I know that if I felt a surge of loving protectiveness over a dog (I mean, I’m not even talking about a kid of mine or a spouse) then God must feel even more so about you and me, friends.
These kill-joy moments can come in many forms: commands that seem too “un-fun” to follow, times of suffering, and the like.
But What if We’re Wrong?
All of those laws in the Old Testament had a purpose. Think of the weird ones like circumcising on the eighth day (Lev. 12:3). Did you know that medical science has verified that this is the safest day to circumcise due to Vitamin K deficiency and its link to hemorrhaging? 1 That circumcision is touted as an “infant vaccine” because of the benefits (reduced risk of UTIs and cancer incidents in men’s prostates and female partner’s cervix)? 2 Or that the dietary commands in the Torah are scientifically showing its efficacy in health? 3 That means there were reasons God didn’t want the Jews eating Babe, or forbidding a cotton blend, or why they had to do in-depth procedures for mold growth. I could go on with all of these, but I’ll leave you with great resources to check into yourself.
What does all of this mean? God spoke every command out of love and protection. All of those kill-joy commands we hate were for our protection. It may feel like a vice, but it’s really a clasp of love.
What About Suffering?
If His commands are purposeful (even though seen as burdensome and unpopular) then wouldn’t it make sense that our suffering has a purpose? That even those uncomfortable commands we don’t like are reasonable? Know that I’m not saying God’s hand causes all of your destruction, my friends. Good has the foil of evil. God permits the bad for a short time. But if God is a purposeful God, then even the story arcs that we perceive as too severe have a point.
Have you ever felt like God was killing your joy at times? What matters of life have you wrestled with pertaining to this topic?
1 Thompson, Bert. “Biblical Accuracy and Circumcision on the 8th Day.” Apologetics Press. 1993. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1118>.
2 Bakalar, Nicholas. “Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks, Study Reports.” Well: Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks Study Reports Comments. 7 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2014. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/07/circumcision-benefits-outweigh-risks-study-reports/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1>.
3 Rubin, Jordan. The Maker’s Diet. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam, 2004. Print.