Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A God of Compassion...and Anger?

You are so welcome here!  I am glad that you've come.  God's blessings on you.

     I was thinking about how many people view God as angry, either with them or with other people.  God is blamed for so many things, from personal illness or injury to the 9/11 attacks.  But this is not who God is or how God acts.  God does not will bad things for us.  God loves us with an aching love that longs to give us not only good things, but delightful things.  God wants us to "rejoice and be glad!"  We're the ones who get in the way of that.

     I'm not saying that bad things always come about as a consequence of our actions.  Take cancer for instance.  If someone who has smoked for forty years develops lung cancer, the smoking probably was a contributing factor.  But there are millions of people, diagnosed with cancer, who never did a thing to bring it about.  My mom, for example.  She had a rare cancer called rectal melanoma.  A CAT scan tech once joking asked her if she had done a lot of sunbathing in the nude. She laughed and told him no.  How did she get skin cancer in her rectum? Only God knows. Did she bring the cancer on herself?  No, of course not.  In 2006, she died from the disease.  How then, can I say that God wants only good things for us when God let an innocent woman get cancer, suffer a great deal of pain and die?  If God is so loving, why does He allow things like this to happen?  I'm not going to pretend that I can give a comprehensive answer to this. Through experience, I have learned many things about God, but there are so many more things I don't know--and even more that I don't understand.   What I do know is that God loves us beyond comprehension with a love that is tender and personal, not generic.  And I know that the picture of God as angry, exacting, punishing and condemning is simply wrong.  

     But don't take my word for it.  Take God's.  Read scripture.  In the New Testament, Jesus reveals how much God loves us.  And Jesus isn't all talk.  He is the loving, compassionate God personified.  The only people who don't receive forgiveness are those scribes and Pharisees who refuse to acknowledge their need for it.  Jesus demonstrated the way God loves us. He wanted to be with us.  He taught, He healed and He forgave sins.  Also, He made friends, laughed, celebrated and partied. And He willed to die for the love of us.  For us sinners.

     The Old Testament also reveals a God who is loving, merciful, compassionate and very, very patient.  More about this in the next blog.  In the meantime, read Hosea.  Read Psalm 131.  Read Isaiah.  You could even read--and meditate on--the Genesis stories of The Fall.  (There are two versions of it, by the way).  My reflections on that story would be a blog in itself, but let me just leave you with this thought.  At the end of the story yes, Adam and Eve have to leave the Garden, but before they do, God sits down and sews clothes for them.  Don't remember that part of the story?  I'm not surprised.  It's usually not emphasized.  God's maternal tenderness in sewing the clothes for Adam and Eve always gets left out of the retelling of the story.  

     Think about it: what if God sat down and sewed clothes for you to cover your nakedness, to protect you from the elements. What would that reveal to you about God and God's love for you?  If you feel that God wouldn't do that for you--and I mean you personally--ask Him about it.  Expect Him to answer. Then listen, really listen to the response.

Blessings of love.

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