Are You Offended by God?

Lyn Thompson, Pastoral Care, CTCA/Southwestern Regional Medical Center

Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, by and by he is offended. - Matt. 13:21

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Matt. 11:6

Have you ever taken offense at the action or inaction of someone you love? Maybe you asked for something, and the person you were sure of turned you down. Or maybe it appeared the person betrayed your trust by something he or she said or did. Maybe it was a politician you voted for ... or maybe your spouse, mom, dad, friend or boss told you something, and the way you understood the words, it now looked, by their actions, to be all lies or that they didn't have your best interests at heart.

Jesus understood that He might offend people, either by things He said or did or by our interpretation of His actions or words. And He addressed that in the Bible, calling people blessed if they weren't offended in Him. He knew that, often, we'd be faced with trials, tribulation, persecution, disease, failures and other serious problems, such as a premature and/or senseless death of a spouse or child, and we might conclude He'd forgotten us or wasn't listening to and answering our prayers ... that, in fact, He'd lied when He told us to ask anything in His Name and it would be given, that He'd lied when He said He'd never leave us nor forsake us ... that He'd betrayed our trust.

But things aren't always what they seem. That's true of so much of life. Perspective colors how we see our circumstances, the spin we put on what's happening. We tend to see myopically ... only a small part of our lives at a time, and, sometimes, only what we want to see. God, on the other hand, sees the big picture, the whole picture, of our lives ... He sees past, present and future all at once, because there's no time with Him ... time is something that limits us alone. He knows the reasons something has been allowed; and He knows what He's going to do about it. He knows the long-term implications as well as the short-term effects. His thinking is so different from ours because He knows all things, sees all things, is completely sovereign and absolutely perfect. He's not driven by evil, selfish, deceptive motives, and He's completely faithful to Himself and His Name as well as to His Word and to us.

That's why it's so important to have a clear understanding of who God is, what His character is and what He says about us and His feelings toward us in the Bible. In the middle of circumstances that throw us for a loop, fill us with fear and longing, drive us to want what we're sure is the best for us, if we don't have that understanding, we will take offense.

And that's what Satan, our enemy and God's, is counting on. That's when he'll step in to feed the fire and grow the offense and sense of betrayal. His whole plan is to get us to distrust God, to believe He's not out for our good but to do us evil. From the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, he started his attacks on God's credibility, asking Eve, "Did God really say ... " and then deceiving with partial truths, "You won’t die ...," as he goaded her to be offended by God's limitations and to justify disobedience to God.

When we face difficult, painful, hard circumstances, where we don't understand why they're happening or what the outcome will be, Satan steps up his attacks with accusations like, "God doesn't love you ... He doesn't care ... He can't change this ... He won't change this ... If He loved you, then He'd ... you're a fool to believe what God says ... see where following God has gotten you ..." 

And, if we fall for those lies, we become offended by God and begin a free fall into an even greater darkness than the circumstance itself brought with it. We become entangled in Satan's web of lies and soon, have no one to turn to ... no Savior, no Redeemer, no Restorer, no one bigger than ourselves, no Creator who made us and everything in the world, who knows and understands the big picture, the purpose for our creation and the One who has all power and all goodness resident in Himself. We lose even what we had, prior to the circumstance, because, now, we not only have the difficulty, but we're walking in it with no faith and no helper ... we've turned our back on the only One who can ultimately make sense of our lives and what we're experiencing. Satan has us right where he wants us ... totally defeated and without hope.

On the other hand, if we hold fast to God and refuse to be offended by what appears to be unanswered prayer -- or an answer you don't want -- or unchanging difficulties or unexplained sorrow, we have all that God is and does at our disposal. By depending on Him, we give Him permission to move in our lives to somehow redeem for good whatever it is that is currently causing us harm and pain. Instead of being consumed and destroyed by the event or circumstance as Satan wishes, we're comforted by God's presence and love, strengthened by His grace, deepened in our faith, enabled to see more of who He really is and carried through our circumstances in ways that transform us into overcomers and our circumstances into defeated foes.

Whatever you're experiencing today, I pray you won't take offense at God ... that, instead, you'll let your pain, the difficulty, the loss or the very unknown, drive you into Him more, where Jesus says you'll find blessing ... even though that seems so contradictory to your physical senses and your limited understanding at this moment. He's true to Himself and to His Word ... and He'll be true to you as well ... no matter what.

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