Have you ever found yourself in conflict? Someone says or does something that hurts you – deeply. You are left wonder how to handle the situation. What to do next? Sometimes it is not a close relationship, and you let it go. You move on. Other times, moving on isn’t an option.
When this happens in my world, my initial reaction (too frequently) is revenge. A little taste of their own medicine. A little passive-aggressive tit-for-tat. (I’m a work in progress. What can I say?)
Then, once my initial shock, hurt, and disappoint pass, I tend to let it go. But not always in a forgive-and-forget sort of way. Sometimes, my attitude can look a lot more like “let it go” or “write it off.”
Sometimes, the response to someone who has hurt or offended me is all the way on the other end of the spectrum. We all have those precious, priceless relationships for which there is no end to what we’d do to preserve them – even if the efforts are one-sided and no matter the toll.
For a long time, I tended to see God as a “let it go” or “write it off” kind of God. The pain and suffering that permeate every corner of this world can leave one asking – What kind of God does that? What kind of God allows this kind of suffering? Or worse, what kind of God inflicts this kind of pain? It would be real easy to answer back – “The kind of God who has written us off.”
I’ve come to realize over time that I was asking the wrong question. We shouldn’t be asking What kind of God does that? The better question is What kind of God does that?
When we stop blaming God for the state of affairs (What kind of God does that?) and focus on the lengths to which He will go to keep us in relationship for eternity (What kind of God does that?) – our whole world is changed.
When Adam and Eve took a big, ol’ hunking bite of an apple – He would have had every right to kick them (and us with them) to the curb. That’s not our God. He didn’t write them off, and He doesn’t write us off. No, God went to work straight away chasing mankind down to close the separation that had been created between Him and us. God declared early and often that He values His relationship with each one of us as priceless and precious.
We – you, me, the cantankerous neighbor next door, the drug addict curled up in the alley, the pious who sit upright in their pews, the humble who roll up their sleeves to clean up after a disaster, the soft-spoken teen who checks groceries, the loud-mouth who wants everyone within a ten-mile radius to know the latest and greatest thing he did – all of us – He counts EACH ONE OF US among the priceless, precious relationships that are worth pursuing at any and all costs. Even to the point of enduring torture and death on a cross.
What kind of God does that?
God could have kicked us to the curb with that rotten apple core, but He didn’t. This is where my faith is really tested. The misplaced question of how a loving God could allow suffering doesn’t challenge my faith the way God’s unrelenting pursuit does. I can understand how suffering is a risk associated with free will and how a relationship with God would be meaningless without free will.
What I have more trouble understanding is –
- Why would God waste His time chasing me down when I fail Him time and time and time again?
- What does God see in this wretched heart?
- How does His grace, mercy, patience, and love not run out when I continue to test it over and over and over again?
- Why would Jesus – a divine member of the Holy Trinity – humble himself to walk in my shoes?
- Why would He endure torture and death to ensure me a place for eternity?
It seems too good to be true that God would waste even half of a second on me. We are so used to being written off by others for the slightest of infractions that it is inconceivable that God would even give us the time of day.
Well, it’s true.
This weekend, we are invited to contemplate (and celebrate) the mystery of just how far our God will go to chase us down. As we remember, Jesus’ death and resurrection, we get a very up close and personal answer to the question – What kind of God does that?
Dear Father, we have given You every reason imaginable to abandon us. Yet, You refuse. We are so grateful that our trangressions do not deter you from your unwavering pursuit of a relationship with us. Help us to follow the model of love “too good to be true” lived out by your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to see everyone around us (ourselves included) through your eyes as priceless and precious. When we are tempted to “let it go,” may your Spirit stir in our souls reminding us exactly What kind of God does that!
In the name of your precious Son, Jesus – Amen!