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Man. This has been a year of painful silence from the One who speaks life into all the dead places and spaces in our world and heart. Did God break up with us? Is He ghosting? I've been in one long angry, puffy faced temper tantrum. Been calling Him all sorts of bad names and accusing him of all sorts of bad things. My heart has becoming hardened, and here's my unfinished take on working through his response to my rebellion. 

I've been working through the Old Testament and getting familiar with what can sometimes be understood as the grouchy side of God's character. It occasionally reads as God waking up on the wrong side of the bed. There is the whole flooding the earth situation, burning of Sodom of Gamorrah, genocide of all of Egypt's first born sons, and the straight up demolition of the sons of Eli. Granted, there's are some pretty good reasons why He reacts on a diva level 10 to these particular instances  (the earth was evil, Sodom and Gamorrah were into gang raping, the Egyptian Pharaoh ran a pretty significant slave industry, Eli's sons were straight up thugs), but still - where's is our loving God in all of these screwed up situations? Where is superman who saves the world, redeems the time, and sets things right?

  • I recently worked through the story of the Exodus, and noticed that God hardens Pharaoh's heart. 
  • As I was working through the turn over of Saul's kingship to David, I noticed that God sends an evil spirit to Saul

I have a friend in my life who isn't into accountability. I've petitioned this friend to seek pastoral wisdom, to address their issues, and to live accountable to the faith they claim. It's all been a solid 'no'. A resounding 'get out of my face'. My friend's heart has becoming hardened against the ways of God. My friend initiated the hardening of their own heart, and maybe the only way back to God (on account of their own stubbornness) is to surrender them over to their issues and pray that life in the fast lane knocks them around enough that they come running back into the arms of God. Do I abandon my friend? No! Am I done with my friend? No! To release someone to their own devices is not the same as throwing them away, rather, night comes before dawn and sometimes people, out of their own stubbornness, must experience the fullness of night. 

Sometimes, when little children throw a temper tantrum, you have to let that tantrum happen. It doesn't mean that you don't love them. It doesn't mean that you won't address their anger. It doesn't mean that you won't equip them with the right tools to work through those emotions when the timing is right. It means that that little one has decided to throw a temper tantrum, and you have to wait that nonsense out. The waiting can be costly, painful, and downright sad. The waiting can make you feel like a loser and a failure. But it's just waiting. It's not permanent.

When God hardened Pharaoh's heart, Pharaoh already did the work of having a heard heart. Pharaoh already refused to humble himself and rejected God's way over and over again. So, did God harden his heart or simply give Pharaoh over to his own pride?

When an evil spirit comes on Saul, Saul's already been freaking out and totally threatened by David's prominence. Saul has already been struggling with jealously over David's military victories, over David's popularity, over David's favor from God, and over his daughter's love for David. Does God send an evil spirit to Saul, or does he simply give Saul over to the jealously in his heart?

Sometimes, you have to let that tantrum happen. Pharaoh's heart was set against Israel, and God let it be set. Saul's heart was set against David, and God let it be set. Sometimes the only path out is right through the dark forest of the hardness of our hearts. We are little children, after all. 

So, is God's seeming silence in the face of our frustration equate to God's indifference over us? No, I don't think so. 

Are there any Stranger Things fans in the house? SPOILER ALERT (PS - If I'm spoiling this for you, you haven't lived. Stop what you are doing and go watch the second season). One of my favorite scenes is when Hopper loses his temper with El. I mean - it definitely hits a 'Hopper needs to say sorry' point, but early in the argument, Hopper's responding in a pretty understandable way. Hopper is in straight up Dad mode, and he is so protective over El and has such a strong love for her, that he gets super angry when she disobeys him, putting herself in the path of danger. You can almost see scenes of little El falling into the hands of heartless scientists who mean her great harm run across Hopper's face as it becomes red with anger at El. He can see the bigger picture that she can't see, and knows the boundaries in her life are there for a good reason. Sometimes, a good dad goes in discipline mode, and raises his voice. And sometimes - a good Dad knows the only thing to do is to throw his hands up in the air, let you learn the lesson your way, and wait for you come around. Good Dads get angry, but are are never 'done' with their kids. Good Dads pass judgements, fair judgements, but they aren't final judgements. In time and after El's rebellion, Hopper comes around to El, and they are okay. There is so much more to the story than the isolated moment of heated frustration. That moment is just part of a longer narrative. Don't turn the TV off in the middle of a show - finish the series! Don't turn the Lord off in the middle of the story - keep waiting, pressing in, wrestling, and checking your own hardness of heart against His good boundaries.

I think God is patient, and his love is strong enough that he sometimes restrains His own leadership in our life so we can learn lessons the hard way. Sometimes God (good Dad) gets angry because we are being denseSometimes little kids throw temper tantrums and God (good Dad) gives us over to own desires. The good news is when the tantrum is over, there is a loving and committed God , who calls himself Dad, who is waiting and willing to pick us up out of our own mess, brush us off, and heal our hardened hearts. Buck up, little one - its just a season.