When You Feel Betrayed by God - Ed Stetzer
‘Just can’t seem to forgive God’ is a common phrase I've heard in ministry over the years. Whether experiencing personal grief or physical suffering, we all have a propensity to blame God for circumstances beyond our control—and as such find it hard to “forgive” Him. I've experienced it in my own life. I will always remember the way my sister Betty died. She was barely an adult when she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time. We, as a family, travailed the challenge of watching her as a 12-year-old suffer from a rare form of skin cancer. The chemotherapy, the disfiguring surgery and all the accompanying challenges were realities in our everyday lives. She got better for nine years, but then she died, and I struggled with the question, Why? Both Mom and I had to confront the issue we perceived as God’s unfairness. My mother avoided confrontation with God for seven years. Mom stayed away from church and from Christians. She could not understand (and still does not understand) why God would allow such a thing to happen. But through the love of a particular family and various friends, Mom eventually came to the conclusion that she must let go of her anger toward God. In a sense, she had to forgive God. My own grief required less time but was equally tormenting. I remember, after Betty died, driving to the shore of a nearby beach and yelling at God. Honestly I used words that one should not use when addressing a holy God. I demanded answers. The answers my soul craved never came. God rejected my wisdom in favour of His own. He did not give me the answers I wanted, but He gave me something better. He gave me Himself instead. I remember that night—among many others—quoting Proverbs 3:5-6, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (HCSB). Of course the idea of “forgiving God” will certainly ruffle some feathers, but the point here is so clear: God is perfect and just, yet our hearts often hold bitterness toward Him—and we need to let that bitterness go and trust Him. We understand that God does not need to be forgiven. He is perfectly holy, just, righteous and wise in all His dealings with us. God only desires and provides the best for His people, though we may not realize it at the time. God has done nothing wrong and is not in need of our pardon or recompense. Yet because we live in a fallen and broken world, because we agonize over suffering, and because of our limited knowledge, we become angry with Him. We need to repent from sinful anger toward God and break free from its bondage. Yes, on that day many years ago, I had to let go of my bitterness—and my guess is that many of you feel the same way and need to forgive God as well—that is, let go of the anger and bitterness. It’s not that God needs to be forgiven but that we need to be repentant so that sinners like you and me can be reconciled to an omnipotent, omniscient, sovereign God who desires only the very best for us. God bless you.