Ask Etta (my wife) and she will be happy to tell you exactly what I'm like when I get mad. Thankfully, she can't tell you of household items tossed, insults hurled, or tantrums thrown. She won't tell of any type of emotional or physical abuse. What she will tell you about is the silence. When I get mad, I clam up. She knows when I'm mad because I don't talk.
Well, as if God didn't know everything about me already, He now knows the silent treatment from me. (Yes, this is more of the preacher being honest with his own struggles. But I've had enough of preachers that have it all together when we, in fact, know they don't.) This is not the first time I've given God the silent treatment, but it's the first opportunity I've had to write about it.
God did not provide what I thought we needed in the time frame that I laid out. I've already written of frustrations with God's timing, but I honestly expected the answer to come soon after. It didn't. And it still hasn't. And it doesn't matter the source of the need; the frustration is natural for all of us when things don't work the way we think they should.
So I clammed up. I didn't pray. I basically existed as if God didn't. And that isn't a fun place to be. See the irony? I rejected my only source of comfort and direction. In the midst of my need that was not met, I rebuffed the only source for the answer. I quit praying when I didn't get what I prayed for. And you know what it got me? A big old pile of nothing. I didn't feel better. If anything, I felt more hopeless. Nothing was solved. The situation was only worsened. Therefore my plan to silent treatment God into giving me what I thought I needed didn't work. Not that I ever really thought it would.
Okay, so I clammed up. But you yell. And you go back to your pet sin. And you bad-mouth God to other people. And you... My point is, we all try to bully God. Something doesn't go our way and we blame God. Then we have our own little method of getting back at Him. We goad Him a little bit. We show Him how it feels. We plan to hurt Him by our little pitiful form of cry-baby rejection.
Here's the thing: He already knows how rejection feels. He's rejected daily. He knows rejection all the way to the cross. He's rejected by people who have no love for Him. And He's rejected by people who claim to follow Him that got their feelings hurt. So why the rejection? Because He rejected us, right? He didn't give us what we wanted. My four year-old uses the same logic.
There is no argument that we feel hurt when we feel we have not been given something we think we need. The question obviously then becomes whether we needed it or not. (And, yes, I definitely need what I'm praying for. I'm sure you do too.) But if we look with eyes fixed on the reality of the situation, we will see that God does not set out to hurt us. The gift of the cross was given to save us, to keep us from ultimate hurt. It is the ultimate example of supplying needs. So why do we think God has suddenly changed His mind and decided it's fun to needle us a little bit? I'm sure most of us will grudgingly admit that we really don't think God intends to hurt us, but we act as if we do. So we get back at Him.
So I'm still waiting. I'm wondering if God remembers our calling and knows all that we need to accomplish it. I'm wishing He would hurry up. But I'm also trusting. God is faithful to complete what He's begun. He prepares those He sends. When I withhold what Jamie, my four year-old, thinks he needs, I'm not doing it for sport or to see him cry. I do it because I know what's best. And I can't even see the future. My heavenly Father can. When He withholds, it's with my best interests in mind. We need to accept what heaven hands us and understand that our petty attacks on God accomplish nothing. It doesn't help us and it doesn't change God. God is working good for us. Even when it appears He's holding out on us.
No matter how much I don't like it.