Focus: ‘Forgiving God’* and accepting what we can’t change
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV) To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.
You probably haven’t lived your whole life trusting God’s perfect timing and purposes…which is normal. Nobody comes out of the womb without a will of their own. It was nice of God to let us have the liberty to make our own choices—but, even though we can choose some things—we can’t always change what we don’t like.
I haven’t been mad at God very much in my life, but I have to confess there have been a few times when I was. The first time I recall being angry with Him was when my dad was going through legal hassles over the meager worker’s compensation he received from a work related injury that made him an invalid.
Dad lived with a lot of back discomfort that only grew worse following unsuccessful surgery. It was hard watching a man who had been highly motivated and who loved to work and make a difference all his life—become reduced to living on a fixed income. As for pain management—the only way my dad could manage—was to stay ‘horizontal’ on a couch or bed. Sitting up or standing caused excruciating pain. Prescription meds didn’t come close to solving the problem.
As time passed—my dad, who was always strong and proud of it—became thin and showed physical and emotional signs of the weakness. After several years of coping with inconvenience and barely making ends meet on social security and his small disability check—the government cut off the worker’s comp without notice—to review the case.
My parents felt like criminals—as every move they made was monitored by private investigators who were determined to ‘catch’ my dad doing something that would prove he was ‘milking the system’ so he wouldn’t have to work. This was deeply humiliating for my dad who would gladly have traded his compensation check to be back in the work force.
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It was hard to watch my dad’s deterioration and see what little dignity he had left, being assaulted by the attorneys and judicial system. It was like torture for him to go for depositions and reviews that required him to ‘sit’. I went with my parents the day my dad was supposed to go to court. He was so weak and worn from the stress he could barely stand. He had to prop himself up with crutches and they ‘mocked’ him for using them.
For two long years, my parent’s worker’s compensation was withheld and they lived on a small social security check while the insidious investigation dragged on and on. If they hadn’t been debt free before it happened, they never could have survived it. None of us knew how much more we—or my dad could endure. We all feared he would just ‘give out’ under the strain. Dad was in his mid-forties at the time.
I wasn’t right with God at that point and had little patience for the treatment my dad was getting. It seemed to me that God must be getting some warped kind of satisfaction out of seeing my dad dangle from a thin thread—like a man-handled marionette. The whole thing seemed surreal and sadistic to me. I had prayed and so had everyone else. It just seemed like God didn’t care.
I remember having the desire to pray one day as I was driving in my car. I had been taught to pray in a proper, polite style that always began with, ‘Our Lord and Heavenly Father…’, and ended with ‘in Jesus’ Name, Amen.’ But, what I said that day was neither proper, nor polite. I was pounding my fists on the steering wheel and yelling at God. All of my anger came spewing out with, ‘What’s the matter with You? Don’t You see what’s going on here? What are You getting out of this? Do You like watching people suffer? Is it a game to You? Why don’t You do something?’ I felt like God had abandoned us.
I’d like to say that shortly after that—God revealed Himself, my dad had a complete healing, and was able to live a happy, normal life. But, it didn’t turn out that way. The case was finally settled and my parents were reimbursed for the lost compensation—minus the lawyer fees, which amounted to more than my parent’s ‘share’. In truth, the traumatic events took a terrible toll. Yet, in spite of everything, my dad’s faith continued to grow. I saw Jesus in him as he patiently endured the testing and trials. He was becoming pure gold—but, I wasn’t doing so well.
I was raised to believe that ‘God is love’—but, what I was seeing my dad live through sure didn’t look like ‘love’ to me. I have to say I still don’t understand why my dad wasn’t healed in the way we wanted him to be. A little more than a decade later, he died. But, I will say I have learned that God’s ways are not our ways, and some of His ways are past finding out—just like His Word says. He doesn’t have to explain Himself—we just have to trust Him.
Declaration: I will find new strength by ‘forgiving God’* for the things I thought He should have done differently in my life and in the lives of my family members and friends.
* ‘forgiving’ in the sense that God had not met my expectations—not in the sense as though God had sinned.
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