A few months ago I was talking to a woman who was an alcoholic: in & out of rehab. I cannot remember what she said that opened the door, but I asked her if she knew God and she said some. So then I began sharing Christ with her, and she stopped me and said she believed in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She said, “Oh I love him. But I just don’t like God”; and that was unusual for me. Most people believe there is a God, but reject Jesus. So of course, I asked her to explain why. So I was ready for He killed my father when I was 6 – but she said “I don’t like him because I read in Ezekiel how he punished his people and turned his back on them, and how could God love them and turn his back on them? And if you love me, how can you send me to hell”? And I told her that was a valid question and we continued to talk until she had a better understanding.
But can one of you DIVAs (Divinely Inspired – Victoriously Anointed women of God) help a sister out: how are you supposed to be highly favored and be deserted? When you are experiencing God’s wrath, where is the love?
It is this same feeling of abandonment many children feel when their fathers are absent from the home or disciplining them. It may be how the three little girls in the movie felt. One was being abused by their mother’s boyfriend and another forced to sell drugs. They probably could not understand why their father had not come to get them. Did he not love them like he said? Was he punishing them for complaining about the lack of space at his place?
You may never have been abandoned, but perhaps before dishing out some form of cruel and unusual punishment, your dad (or mom) would say “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you”? How? I am the one who can’t sit down; I am the one without phone privileges. I am the one stuck in this God forsaken house for the weekend. They say it’s because they love us, they are hurting us. Did you think, are you kidding me?!?! What kind of love is this? Well, I have come to find out, they did not write the book on tough love – God did.
Hebrews 12:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”[a]
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.
Now, there was probably never a truer saying than ‘there is a thin line between love & hate’, and if you will not admit it, I will – in our finite minds, God has crossed that line sometimes! Yet it is when God displays this side of himself that his love is most auspiciously displayed. The problem is we mistake his judgment for hate because we don’t understand with love comes chastisement.
Take for example the Israelites in Numbers 21. They complained because of the monotony of the manna provided. As punishment, God sent serpents with deadly bites; but He also provided a way of escape and healing if those bitten would express their faith by looking on the bronze serpent Moses had made & set in the middle of the camp.
Jesus also compared His own purpose with that of the bronze serpent in John 3:14-15. The serpent, lifted up in the wilderness, had been God’s chosen process to provide physical healing. Jesus, lifted up on the cross, is His way of providing spiritual healing for all afflicted by sin.
John 3:14-16 (KJV)
14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God illustrates to us that one of the biggest expressions of love you can show another person is through self sacrifice. He was willing to be separated from His son, and Jesus was willing to give his life in order to save us. What love!
It reminded me of a scene in the movie Daddy’s Little Girls where the father was willing to sacrifice his relationship with his daughters by going to jail, just so he could protect them from their mother’s boyfriend. What love!
And fathers are still making some real life changing sacrifices. One signed away visitation rights so he would spare the mother any more pain than he had already caused her. That’s still love, even though it caused sorrow, confusion and lack in the daughter’s life. Because sometimes love hurts. We may not agree with the method; we certainly may not understand the process, but that is still love!
And if it’s hard to see the good God does because you missed out on a good relationship with your natural father, remember Jesus promised if we would lift him up, he would draw all men: and that includes your father and you.
So Look & live by loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, body and strength – that’s love!