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WHO IS TO BLAME?

The war has ravaged all of our lives. The senseless agony.  The monstrous cruelty. A horrendous calamity like this war compels us to cry out with justified anguish and pain.  “If there’s a good God, then why is He allowing this evil to overtake us?  Why didn’t He stop it from happening?  Why is He waiting to bring it to an end?”

Tragically, sometimes God has to wait in order to capture our attention.  All too often, we don’t think about God while everything is going well for us.  God even warned us and our ancestors about this danger. 

“Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you this day; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt; out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:11-13). 

All goes well, and we develop spiritual amnesia.  We ignore God, or maybe we even deny that He exists.  Then catastrophes overtake us, and we want to know why.

I remember a time in Odessa in 1991 when the Soviet Union was unravelling at the seams.  Everything was in a state of chaos.  I spoke with a young man one day who fervently claimed to be an atheist.  When I asked him how he could be so certain that God didn’t exist, he stretched out his arms in a sweeping gesture and said with unconcealed rage, “Look at all of this!  If there’s a God, why is He letting all of this happen?!”

Patiently, I offered an explanation.  “God didn’t do this to us,” I said quietly.  “We did.  Seventy years ago, we told God we didn’t need Him.  We told Him He didn’t even exit.  And we told Him that we were going to build a paradise on earth without any help from Him.  And do you know what He said back?”  The young man was gracious enough to listen patiently and let me finish.  So, I went on.  “God said, ‘Ok.’”  Then I added, “We can’t really blame God for what’s happening if we deny His existence.  We can’t blame Him for standing back if we’re the ones who told Him to leave us alone.”

That’s a hard truth to hear, and His distancing from us might make Him seem petty, as though He were saying, “Fine!  If you want nothing to do with Me, then I want nothing to do with you.” But that’s not what God is saying at all.  God is agonizing with us, and He wants to step into our lives.  He’s actually pleading with each one of us to invite Him to intervene.  “Call upon Me in the day of trouble,” He’s crying out.  “I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” (Psalm 5:15 – English translation).

God isn’t petty.  He’s heartbroken.

There’s a popular idiom that people often borrow from sports.  Maybe you know it.  “The ball is in our court.”  It means, “What happens next is up to us.” Are we willing to call, or do we prefer to blame Him for our calamities while denying that He even exists?

When we call, He answers.  But there’s a problem.  Too often, we cry out and even demand His intervention.  In His mercy, compassion, and love, He does just that – He intervenes.  So, the immediate problem gets solved.   But then we turn our backs on Him all over again.  We take the credit for what He did on our behalf, and we put Him out of our minds.

Sadly, that pattern characterized so much of our history in biblical times, and that pattern still plagues us today.  In the book of Judges, we read about a time of great crisis, “when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord” and “the Lord raised up a deliverer for them” (Judges 3:15).  But once the crisis had passed, “the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 4:1)

If we cry out to God, He promises to answer.  But when we cry, our call needs to include an acknowledgement of our own unfaithfulness, and it needs to include an honest-hearted desire to come back to the One we’ve spurned but who’s waiting to step in and help.  That One is the Yeshua, the Messiah Jesus.  We spurned Him and turned our backs to Him, even when He was sacrificing His own innocent life as the payment for our transgressions.  He died as we turned away.  But He didn’t stay dead.  He’s alive, and He’s appealing to us, just like He appealed to our ancestors  “Call to me in the day of trouble, and I will rescue you.”

So, the ball is in our court.  Will we call?

I realize that my words might seem hard.  But before you dismiss my words because you don’t like them, are you willing to find out if they’re true?  I’ll be more than happy to talk or write to you.

Avi Snyder

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