Forgiving God

Forgiving God

This is a hard time for many. But we know from Scripture that we are to love God totally and unconditionally. 

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Easy right? No! It is not easy. We need grace in order to do it because often our expectations, prayers and desires are not met to our liking.

Not forgiving God is very common. It is just not talked about very much. If a child dies or is very ill, we lose our jobs, get an illness which is severe or for many other reasons, we find ourselves questioning the love of God.

In the Psalms, King David often cries out in anguish to God, questioning why he is being treated the way he is. 

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.” (Psalm 22:2-3)

Have you felt abandoned by God? Perhaps you stopped going to church as frequently or entirely, or you give up on ministry or even prayer itself. You might feel as David felt in Psalm 35:17

“O Lord, how long will you look on? Restore my soul from their destruction, my very life from lions!”

David in Psalm 42:10 exclaimed what many at times feel in their lives: “Why do you forget me?”

It is embarrassing to tell people you are angry at God, especially if you are seen as a Christian, or worse yet, are a member of the clergy. For me, I have experienced moments when I couldn’t understand why God was allowing things to happen. I was reminded by the Lord of Isaiah (55:9):

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

In other words, we don’t get it. We are not God. Don’t try to figure it out because we can’t see the big picture. That is where trusting in the Lord must come in. “Jesus, I trust in you!” So many people try to figure out everything. They think they understand but none of us have the mind of God.

Our goal is to be in the presence of the Lord. When that happens, great miracles happen in your life. 

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7)

When that happens you have the peace that only God can give. The challenge is when things don’t go the way you want. We have a decision to make on whether or not we want to trust in the Lord.

I constantly try to reflect on my trust and love of the Lord. It is easy when things are going well. For me, one of the great challenges in my life occurred in 2015. I received a phone call from my daughter saying that she had been in a major accident. It was a day of snow and my daughter, Laura, had taken her son to go skiing. On returning home, she noticed a car in her lane headed to hit her car head on. She honked repeatedly and the woman driving the other car didn’t pay attention for she was on her phone, probably texting. Finally, my daughter was convinced she was going to be hit so she drove into the other lane and went into a snow bank. Unfortunately, the other car went into the other lane also and broad sided my daughter’s car. If her husband or other son had been in the car they probably would have been killed.

Both my daughter and my grandson had concussions. They went to the local hospital and had MRI’s. My daughter’s MRI included her lungs. That is when her life, and that of her family, and my life and my wife’s, changed dramatically.

They noticed a tumor in her lungs, but the doctor said it was “probably nothing.” They suggested it get checked out. That is when the unspeakable was found: lung cancer! Incredible! She had never smoked, nor even drank alcohol. At age 40, she was in the prime of her life, with two small children ages six and two, and she was diagnosed with this deadly disease!

I started questioning God’s love of me. How could this happen to my only daughter? I was in disbelief. I felt that God let me down. I couldn’t understand it. I traveled all over preaching God’s love but didn’t feel it was being returned to me.

It got much worse a few months later. My daughter called me when I was in a meeting in Northern California. I went outside to take the call and heard her say, “The cancer entered my heart and they don’t expect me to last the night. I wanted to tell you thank you for being my father and goodbye.” Goodbye? Are you kidding? It was a nightmare!

I don’t remember what I said, just that I was immediately going to go back to New York, where she lived. I hung up and started lamenting, angry at how God could do this to me and my family. I reached out to God in despair. I didn’t know what to do. I questioned God’s love of me and my family. 

I felt God’s response immediately. He told me that He loved my daughter more than I could ever know and imagine. That my Laura was His. I repented of my disbelief and asked forgiveness. I started to praise God for being the God of mercy and forgiveness. 

I flew home and my wife and I started to fervently praise and thank God for being the God of healing. We got on a red-eye to JFK in New York and arrived early in the morning. My daughter was at Albany Medical Center. We took the horrible ride to Albany to see her. We were praising God and not talking much.

When we finally arrived at the hospital it took us some time to find my daughter. We finally located her and went to her floor. We found her in the hall. When she saw us she had a big smile on her face. She exclaimed to us, “They misdiagnosed me!” The cancer had not spread. She still had lung cancer but she was not going to die anytime soon. Praise God!

I told my daughter soon after to “make it count.” She definitely has done that. Her passion is to dramatically increase lung cancer research. She works with the Department of Defense and a number of pharmaceutical companies to increase awareness of the need for lung cancer research. She is successful and has even started a nonprofit.

I realized that God did know best but part of me still was disappointed. This disappointment also occurred with my daughter-in-law prior to my daughter’s illness. She and my son seemed to be so happy and full of life. While pregnant with our first grandchild, she began to have symptoms of pain in her joints. She went to her doctor and they ran many tests. We couldn’t believe the result. She had multiple sclerosis! Unbelievable! 

I remember driving to the hospital and thinking “give me the disease and take it away from my daughter-in-law.” It is so hard to see your children and their families suffer. Why does it happen? We can’t understand God’s plan. We need to have faith and trust.

Examine yourself and your feelings toward God. Are you holding back from giving more of your time, talent and treasure to God because He has disappointed you? It is important to reflect on your relationship with God. Trust in Him and great miracles will flow into your life!

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Written by
Deacon Steve Greco