The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(A repeat from 2017)
"A Foolish Liberty"
I recently began reading a book written by a man who hiked the Appalachian Trail after a heartbreaking loss in his life. A professing believer, the man set out on the Trail to deal with his pain and to strengthen his relationship with God. Having spent a good bit of time on the AT, the book intrigued me as the author references places and experiences with which I have become quite familiar.
I have put the book down, however, and don't suspect to pick it back up. In the first hundred pages, the author records speaking to God several times in a disrespectful manner, calling the episodes "temper tantrums." He concludes that while his shouting at the Lord and telling Him what to do is not the best way to express himself, the Lord nevertheless understands and accommodates his anguished cries. He echoes what I once heard another gentleman say about such outbursts, "The Lord can take it!"
Yes, He can. However, we cannot. Allowing ourselves to express anger and bitterness toward the Lord does something in our hearts that yields no benefit, and much harm. "I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed" (Psalm 77:3). We may temporarily feel better after doing so, but in the long term, we do ourselves significant spiritual damage. Job's experience confirms this. Few have suffered as did our brother of old, and we do well to remember that Job passed the main test of his trial. He never cursed God to His face (Job 1:11; 2:5) . However, Job bitterly complained to and about God in the midst of his trial.
"Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with His net. Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment" (Job 19:6-7).
Certainly we understand the temptation Job faced, and we sympathize with his pain. However, we cannot condone his complaining, nor must we follow his example. The Lord roundly rebuked Job for his loose tongue. Three entire chapters of Job (Job 38-41) chronicle God chiding Job for his presumption and disrespect. "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:1-2).
God's way in our lives involves not only the pleasant, but also the painful. We presently require challenge if we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Savior who lived a life of much difficulty and suffering. We will frequently not understand His ways, and our spiritual enemies will tempt us to bitterness toward the Lord, including crying out against Him. By the grace of God, we must overcome these temptations. Allowing ourselves to speak disrespectfully to our Heavenly Father alters our view of Him and ourselves. We forget the truth that God is God, and we are not. We deny how much grace He has bestowed, and how unworthy we are of the smallest Divine favor. We fail to rightly fear Him. And we set ourselves up for a compromised faith in the future that can deceive us into believing further deceptions about God and ourselves. "A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul" (Proverbs 18:7).
Certainly we can ask the Lord for help and understanding when we hurt. We can express the pain we feel. He cares, He understands, and He knows the pricks of the thorny paths we travel. "Casting all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you" (I Peter 5:7). We nevertheless must not embrace the bitterness toward God offered by devilish influences, nor must we express it. Granting ourselves such a foolish liberty envelops our soul with a shroud of deception and discouragement. Job repented much for the only sin his chronicle directly records, namely, complaint. God mercifully forgave, cleansed, and restored him (Job 42:6; 12). He will do the same with us if we have succumbed to such temptation, and if we realize that while the Lord can take expressions of bitterness and complaint directed toward Him, we cannot.
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."
"Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."
Weekly Memory Verse
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.