Tuesday, April 2, 2024

God Speaks Bluntly

Do you ever have moments in your life when things are going poorly, and you're sure that God is mad at you? That He's disappointed in something you've done or someone you've become? 

We spend so much of our time looking at the unwelcome circumstances in our lives, understanding them as judgment, then digging through them to find the smallest little bit of a hint as to what we've done wrong. If we're being honest, though, most of us have no shortage of a list of things we've done wrong. We can immediately bring them to mind - big, small, things everyone noticed, things no one noticed, things we've almost forgotten about, except...well, except that life suddenly got hard, and was it because I.....? 

We have a sense that we get some kind of bonus points for knowing what we've done wrong or for figuring it out ourselves. We think that God knows, so we should probably know, and if we don't know, then maybe we don't know God as well as we thought. Maybe our faith isn't as strong as we thought. I mean, if we can't even figure out why God's upset with us. 

There's a story in 2 Samuel that always helps me with this. It's the story of a famine that lasted 3 years in Israel. 

Chapter 21 opens and says, "after the people had suffered from a famine for three successive years, David asked the Lord why the famine lingered." 

Now, the people of Israel (and of all nations at that time, really) understood famine to be a judgment of the gods. In Israel's case, of the Lord. Famine didn't just happen because of environmental conditions or bad weather; it was an unignorable sign that something was wrong somewhere in the community, in the people. So the people of Israel had some story they were telling themselves about why they were in famine, and they were digging through the smallest details to try to find the finest point of error and atone for themselves. 

So there's been a famine for three years in a row, the people have exhausted their limited understanding, and David finally just asks God what's up. Why the famine? Why can't we shake it? 

And here's the best part: God answered him. Not in some riddle. Not in some hidden message. Not in some thunder and lightning. God just answered him. Straight up, here's what you did. 

Now, Israel can finally make proper atonement. Now, they can finally repent. Now, they understand. 

So if you're spending your time trying to figure out what you've done to upset God, assuming you've done anything at all - if you feel like God is upset with you for some reason...ask Him. He'll tell you. Straight up. 

Then, you'll be able to eat.  

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