Formations lesson for July 15: Forgiving
June 22 2001 by F. Calvin Parker , Job 7:11-21; Psalm 22:1-11

Formations lesson for July 15: Forgiving | Friday, June 22, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

Formations lesson for July 15: Forgiving

By F. Calvin Parker Job 7:11-21; Psalm 22:1-11 The next three lessons deal with "forgiving self," "forgiving others" and "being forgiven." Those titles are self-explanatory. The title of the present lesson is more general and less precise. Forgiving? Forgiving whom? The scripture selections in Job and Psalms suggest to me the title, "Forgiving God." To forgive is to cease to bear resentment against someone who has wronged us - or someone we think has wronged us. Both scripture selections express feelings of resentment against God.

Many of us feel at some time that God has not dealt with us kindly. Our troubles and afflictions seem far greater than anything we could have deserved or brought on ourselves. We reason that a loving, all-powerful God, if not responsible for the evil that has befallen us, at least should have intervened in our behalf.

I think of the wounded soldiers I tried to comfort during the Vietnam War. They had been flown to the American Army hospital in Yokohama, Japan, for surgery and other needed care. Many had to have shattered arms and legs amputated. One shrapnel victim told me he was sewn up with 296 stitches. Their bodies maimed and nerves wracked, their memories flooded with scenes of horror, some of these young men felt their lives had been ruined beyond repair. Some were angry at God. They needed to forgive God.

Job's case against God (Job 7:11-21)If anyone has reason to complain against God, it is the Old Testament Job. Though "blameless and upright," Job suffers the loss of his 10 children, his extensive property and his good health. He is reduced to a skeleton beset with sores. To add to his woes, his so-called friends accuse him of sin, for they regard misfortune as a sign of God's displeasure. Job argues theology with his accusers at considerable length but in this passage he speaks directly to God.

Andrew W. Blackwood Jr. calls this prayer "the most amazing in the entire Scripture, if not in all devotional literature. It begins on a plaintive note, rises to a bellow of sheer rage, then dies away in a whisper." At the height of his rage, Job accuses God of being petty and spiteful, of keeping him under surveillance and restraint as though he is a threatening sea monster. He accuses the Almighty of targeting a small and helpless man who would be better off ignored. Job feels so stifled and choked by the hand of God that he simply wants to be left alone.

But the story has a happy ending. God reveals Himself to Job and, without unraveling the mystery of suffering, meets the need of his heart. Job yields and worships, not for any personal benefit, but simply because God is God. It is blessing enough to be reconciled to God.

The lament of the psalmist (Psalm 22:1-11)Like Job, the author of this psalm feels that God has failed him, for he is surrounded by enemies that mock his faith and threaten his life. His misery is aggravated by similar accusations that his suffering is his own fault. But the psalmist is more confident than Job that God will come to his rescue as in former times. His doubts are balanced by faith.

St. Teresa of Avila, having for the second time fallen into a stream, cried out, "It is no wonder, God, that you have so few friends, if this is the way you treat them." The best of saints sometimes talk this way. And God understands. He dealt kindly with Jonah when the prophet vented his anger over the sparing of Nineveh. He restored Job to fellowship and fortune. He heard the cry of the psalmist who felt abandoned in his distress.

God is a forgiving God, and if we feel so wronged that we need to forgive Him, He understands. One pastoral counselor, Vergel Lattimore, suggests the following prayer: "Lord, I don't understand You, but I forgive You for doing what You have done to achieve your purpose." Such a prayer offers relief that comes by forgiving, and it absolves God of any blame.

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6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by F. Calvin Parker , Job 7:11-21; Psalm 22:1-11 | with 0 comments
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