Barriers to Repentance 3/7
by Shery Abdelmalak
Forgive God does not need to be said in theory. In practice, in a life full of tribulation and faith that is not yet fully formed, blame is misplaced. We would all love to say, like Job, “Naked I came from the womb and naked I shall return, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Job, you lost your children, your livelihood, blessed be who?
While we should be aiming to bless His Name through tribulation the way Job did, sometimes we can’t find the strength to even stand, let alone praise God. As Christians, we are gifted with the knowledge of faith. No matter what we go through, we are assured of His grace and that good will come out of the seemingly hopeless. Giving glory to God when things go right is easy, what becomes difficult is giving Him glory when things are not so good. What should be glory turns into blame, into resentment, into despair.
It is His fault that your plans did not go the way you wanted. It is His fault that He’s going to give you more than you could ever imagine, but for now, you can only see two steps ahead of you. If you knew what His plans were, if you knew the reason why you are in the tribulation you are in now, you would be on your knees in awe and amazement of the undeserving Love He has bestowed upon you.
While the end result is what we strive for, during the thick of tribulations, where can we draw faith from? This is when it gets difficult to stand and pray when the One that could get you out of tribulation at the click of His fingers, doesn’t. When you can’t see what He sees. When you are not capable of understanding of what He can do. When you think He has forgotten you. When you doubt that maybe you’re not His favourite anymore. Maybe He’s busy. Maybe He doesn’t love you anymore. As absurd as these all sound, these are the things that get in the way of repentance.
Job’s wife spoke as any one of us would when she told Job to forsake the God that had left him with nothing. As much as Job’s wife is ridiculed for what she said, we need to be sure we are not saying the exact same thing when troubles come our way. God didn’t fulfil our plans? On to plan B. There is an elevation of faith and of spiritual maturity when we put our desires aside for nothing more than to be united with our Lord. There is beauty in seeking Christ for who He is and not what He can offer. We remember Job, not his wife, who remains nameless. We remember Job as he was filled with faith and patiently endured tribulation. You have a choice; to chase a life like Job that is credited to him for faith or at best, be forgotten, like his wife.
What is pivotal to the story of Job is the moment he questioned God. To this, God responded to him in a whirlwind of anger and rebuked him for questioning that His love could ever fail. For the emotional outburst that was Job’s wife’s moment when she lacked faith, Job responded gently. The same way God gently responds to our lack of faith. We were never called to follow Him blindly. In peaceful silence, He waits for us to return to Him. He waits for us to stop focusing on ourselves and focus back on what truly matters – a life with Him.
If God does not respond to you in a whirlwind like He did to Job, know that your faith is not yet fully formed. How else can He show you His love? When you are going through tribulation, know that He is reaching out to you. This is not the time for you to let go. Cling to Him for surely He is the only One holding you together.
Job had lost everything, he was condemned as a sinner by his own friends and felt that the God whom he served had also forsaken him. For the moment that Job looked to himself instead of looking up to God, he fell into deep despair. He started to believe that God owed him something. If we are ever struggling to forgive God it is because we have fallen into the same trap – looking to ourselves instead of looking up to Him. There is purpose to your pain. If you can’t see it, look harder, look up to Him and He will reveal Himself to you. How can we ever question Him when we don’t even know how wisdom enters the mind, or who has given understanding to the heart? (Job 38:34).
Repentance is key to ensuring the virtues and lessons God has instilled in the tribulation you are in are fought and won. In true repentance, we stop looking to ourselves. We let go of the entrapment of our minds and look to Him. We look to His perfection and spread the love we are filled with to those around us. To think that some kind of reconciliation between you and God is necessary because He has wronged you makes no sense. You are not living a life to fulfil your own desires. You are living for Him. Focus on Him and His children and you will never be shaken by tribulation. Where were you when God made the heavens? Who are you to question His plans? A faith formed through trusting God when everything feels like it is going wrong is what makes questions like these fade away to nothing.
He is doing what is best for you, all that is left for you to do, is to thank Him, repent and make sure that no lesson is gone to waste. Let us pray for a faith that only grows and is not shaken by the tribulations of this world. Glory be to God forever, Amen.