Thursday, January 26, 2012
During a recent Sunday morning service, I was lifting my hands during worship, and I told God something that might sound schizophrenic. In my heart I said, “God I love you, You’re my Lord, You’re sovereign, and I will always serve you. But I want you to know I’m very mad at you!” Now, I won’t go into the situation, but I will say that I can relate to Jacob who wrestled with God. Unfortunately, I was losing.
I left service that morning determined to hear from God. During a time of fasting and prayer, I found great encouragement in the following story.
Soon after Jesus completed his forty-day fast in the wilderness, his ministry took off and the crowds quickly became multitudes. Back in Jerusalem, the apostle John’s ministry ground to a halt after being imprisoned by Herod. John sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the coming One, or do we look for another?” Perhaps John thought it would be a subtle way to bring attention to his predicament, you are the Messiah—get me out of here!
Jesus confirmed His deity to John’s disciples, adding these peculiar words, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”1 This seems like an odd thing to say, so what does it mean? Perhaps Jesus was really saying, John, I am who you say I am, but it is not in God’s plan that I stop what I’m doing to set you free. Whatever you do, please don’t let your dire situation present a stumbling block to your belief in me.
Jesus says that to us today. Like John, some of us might be trapped in a grim situation, and we can’t understand why God doesn’t rescue us immediately. Perhaps God is not answering our prayers for a loved one, a marriage, a sickness, a financial crisis, etc. We feel abandoned in our suffering, and we wonder why God doesn’t answer our desperate cries for help.
In times like this, our reaction is everything. First, we must simply trust Jesus. His ways are higher than our ways. His understanding of the big picture is something we can’t even begin to comprehend yet. In the meantime, we can’t allow ourselves to be offended by the only One who loves us unconditionally. He alone can “work all things together for good.” Once a human being like us, our savior truly understands and feels compassion for our situation.
Let’s look at this scripture again--“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” In this case, the word blessed means “for a long duration you will be happy, so much so that congratulations are in order.” As one can see, it is clearly to our benefit NOT to get mad at God. Don’t be offended by what Jesus isn’t doing for you at the moment. Don’t be offended at the prayers He’s not answering.
In the time of Jesus, an “offense” was “a bait-stick of a trap” used to catch an animal. Metaphorically, an offense is something that will “cause to stumble.” The enemy would love to trip you up. Satan does NOT want you to fulfill God’s calling on your life.
As John’s disciples walked away with their answer, Jesus talked to the multitudes about John and his role in the kingdom. He finished with another unusual thought, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
Righteous anger is another healthy reaction to obvious attacks from the enemy. Let’s face it, Satan will stop at nothing to destroy you—he plays dirty! When sorrow seems to add to more sorrows, it’s time to tell the accuser of the brethren, “It’s on!”
When I was a senior in high school, I came home one day to find out that my older sister Lynne was in the psychiatric hospital after trying to overdose on pills. I didn’t know what to do, so I put my running shoes on and took off to have a long talk with God. I was so angry that the enemy had tried to take my sister’s life. I prayed for my sister, but I also told the devil, “For this one life you tried to take, I will take 10,000 souls from hell!” In other words, it’s on!
“The violent who then take it by force are people of keen enthusiasm and commitment who are willing to respond to and propagate with radical abandonment the message of Christ.”2 Are you radically abandoned to serve God no matter what it might cost? For John, he would die in prison, his head cut off and served on a platter at one of King Herod’s dinner parties.
Serving Christ will cost you everything. Sometimes it will cost you so much that you will get mad at God (understatement). The enemy’s voice will whisper in your ear the words of Job’s wife, “Curse God and die.” In times like these, remember the words of Jesus, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
1 Matthew 11:6- I read this verse during my quiet time; simultaneously, I was reading Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. He talks about a couple in his church who had every reason to be offended at God; I knew God was trying to get my attention when I came across this verse twice. Don’t you love how God speaks to us—He always confirms His word too.
2 Spirit-filled Bible study notes