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Who’s to Blame?


Seems like there are plenty of people in the world who blame God for life’s difficulty, pain and suffering, even sin. So many awful acts committed by so many people – why doesn’t he do something? Doesn’t he care? Does he scoff smugly, saying it’s just what we deserve?  Isn’t he a God of love?  Isn’t he all-powerful?

Even in the church, I suspect many of us conceal resentment or disillusionment that confuses us and that we don’t know how to resolve.  Our hopes were not met; God didn’t live up to our expectations.  We want to trust him, say we do, but when the trust is tested, cracks start forming.

I can begin to untwist this pretzel in my life by realizing that, for every horrible abuse I read or see on the news, there are hundreds of good, caring acts that no one documented or reported for public awareness.  I don’t know about those unless I search for them, so my perspective can easily get skewed by the one-sided story. Add to this dark view of events the truth that sin is still at work in my body and my thinking, trying to muddy the water and obscure reality, and my disappointment and pain can lead me to ask rhetorical questions of God that are really accusations. 

 God is not to blame for the hateful, disturbing, offensive actions of humans with free will.  His offer of love and hope and freedom has been extended to all by and through Jesus Christ the Rescuer, requiring no payment from us.  But that’s the funny thing about love, that thing we all claim to long for – it can be accepted or rejected. And the one who accepts or rejects it owns the responsibility for that choice, not the one who offered it. That’s why each of us bears the responsibility for our own choices, our own actions, our own sin; and it’s why God gets the credit for passionately calling us, pursuing us, and giving everything to rescue us from that sin. 

It seems we’ve missed God’s heart. He isn’t mocking the pain and wrongdoing of people, nor is he aloof. If he was, why bother sending Jesus at all? Nevertheless, even this accusation he understands and makes his heart’s desire clear: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)  

The evidence of this rests within us, God’s children.  I hate the horrible acts of evil and the agony I witness and imagine in the lives of so many who are deeply suffering. My heart is wrenched by children abused, vicious taking of life, the tearing of families. I shed those tears and grieve the tragedy, the wrongness because the heart of Christ lives in me, and he is weeping, too – for the victims of the evil acts, knowing what they endure; and for the perpetrators, longing for their repentance, knowing their time is short, and mourning their loss as they move further away from his still reaching hand. 

 Scripture Taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Faith or Presumption?


What am I expecting? More specifically, what am I expecting from Jesus? Does he want me to expect anything? Is expecting something from him, even the best things I can imagine, presumptuous?

I realize that I have been wrestling with these questions for a good long while. It’s difficult to find answers. What usually gets in my way, ironically, is me. My own misinterpretations, my own emotions, my flesh.

Is there a difference between presumption and faith? If I believe God, what ought my expectations be? Oddly, it sometimes feels like I’m expecting him to harm me. It doesn’t matter that that’s opposite of how God presents himself; sometimes the idea just creeps in. Fear, doubt, apprehension, all tend to immobilize me, or at least make me hesitant to act.

But what about his word? What do God’s own words tell me about the truth of these things? An easy one is Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So, it seems clear expecting him to harm me is foolish. The opposite, in fact – he promises to prosper me, to give me hope and a future.

So what should I expect from God? That he’ll keep his promises to me. That he won’t act like those who have let me down in the past. That he wants good for me, longs for me to be ever closer to his heart. And if God wants good for me, is there anything or anyone who can stop him?

So I can expect his best, true life, peace, love, if I surrender to his intentions. That’s not presumption; it’s expectation built on confidence in who God is and how he feels about me. I expect his best not because I’m arrogant, or because I see myself as having earned a reward, but because he loves to give good gifts! (Matt. 7:11) That’s the kind of father he is! A true father. One who keeps his promises.

Scripture Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

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