I was thinking about my regrets this morning. I think back on my relationship with my mother for example, and I regret that I didn’t communicate better with her. I had a lot of anger towards her while she was alive and we never resolved any of those issues. Now it’s too late. It’s only after her death that I began to give her more grace and forgive her for her humanity. I have several children, some of whom I have a good relationship with and others I don’t. You know what the number one reason for the difference is? Communication. One of my daughters will tell me when she’s mad at me. It’s never comfortable of course. But, the most important thing is that we hash it out, we talk it over, we work through it and we resolve it. This is never an easy process because it requires humility, repentance, courage to talk about your feelings and hurts and finally, forgiveness.
I think one of the most painful things that we can do to people we love, or have done to us for that matter, is something commonly called the silent treatment. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes we may not be silent towards another, but we have this inner anger and resentment that we refuse to acknowledge or talk about. Instead of communicating and allowing both parties to share their feelings and thoughts, we pretend that everything is ok.
All of this makes me think of something the Lord tells Isaiah in chapter 1 verse 18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD”. Whenever I read this, I always think about the term “conflict resolution”. God not only tells Israel to talk to Him, but He then offers them hope:
“though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool”.
What is God really saying to Israel, and to us, when He tells us to come and reason with Him? It is my understanding and belief and might I add, personal experience, that He is telling us to come and tell Him what’s on our heart, and our mind, and to tell Him about our anger, our offense with Him, and perhaps even our resentment. You see, He already knows how I feel. If I’m angry with Him, I might be able to fool myself, or even others, but I cannot fool Him. He knows.
I remember many years ago, I was going through a very painful and difficult time in my life. I was angry at the way God was handling the situation. Or perhaps I should rephrase that. I was angry at the way He wasn’t handling or fixing the situation. I was mad. But I refused to talk to Him about it. I had this weird idea in my head, that somehow, telling God I was mad, was wrong, sinful and offensive to Him! I remember a friend had told me that God was big enough to handle my anger. Was He? It seems like a strange question now, but at the time, it was where I was at spiritually and emotionally. I will confess that I did not handle the conversation well when I finally “confronted” Him. I yelled at Him. I’m ashamed to admit, I might have cussed at Him. I stood there in horror at what I had just done, afraid He might wipe me off the earth. His response shocked me. I heard Him say, as clear as a bell, “well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. I knew all that was there, but you didn’t”! Say what? He wasn’t angry at me. No. As a matter of fact, we talked about it, and then He offered me that hope and forgiveness that Isaiah mentions. I repented for my anger and in return I received His unfailing love and mercy.
I look back now at those terrible years and I can see the wisdom in what He allowed to go on in my life. I learned to trust Him in those difficult times. I learned that He is safe. I learned that He loves me unconditionally. You see, unconditional love is not unconditional, unless the person really knows you, warts and all. If all they see is your best side, it’s not unconditional love. My God, my Jesus, knows me, inside and out and He loves me anyway. He knows you as well, inside and out. And the good news is that He loves you unconditionally as well.
Let me just say one more thing. We are living in difficult, frightening times. If you are angry at God, if you feel offended with Him, go reason with Him. Tell Him how you feel. I think, if I know Him correctly, He will help you to work through it and to find His peace.