- Why did my wife leave me?
- Why did my child have to die?
- Why did God allow this to happen to me?
I too have been on the other side of that table wondering where God was when I needed Him most. I have questioned God, doubted God and wondered how a good and loving God could allow me to suffer so much, and still, somehow I came out alright on the other side.
I will never forget the day that Bob was sitting across from at a Denny’s restaurant asking that very question. Why did God allow this to happen? Bob was serving in the Air Force and was active duty out of McDill Airforce Base in Tampa, FL. He had been on extended leave and made a series of bad decisions. He went out drinking with some buddies, allowed some flirting with a barmaid to go too far and the next day had morning after regrets.
Bob was an active church member, loving father, and by every other standard he had been a good husband. He provided for his family, try to teach his children the right values, but on this particular day he messed up BIG TIME! You couldn’t miss the pain and regret in his face. He wanted to know why God didn’t just intervene and stop him. Bob wanted my forgiveness, God’s forgiveness, but mostly he wanted the forgiveness of his wife and family (whom he had not yet told).
Some of you may want to sermonize that moment and tell Bob he was the victim of his own bad decisions, or “the way of the transgressor is hard.” Sitting across from me was a man who had already come to understand the nature of his actions and wanted nothing more than make them right (the best he could). Bob was BROKEN and wanted redemption. His remorse reminded me a lot of David after his sin with Bathsheba…
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; blot out my transgression. Wash away all of my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me… Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalms 51:1-3, 12).
Where do people turn when they struggle with the difficult questions of life? Where do you feel safest revealing your deepest sins and weaknesses? It should be the people of God, those who have experienced mercy, grace and redemption. Those whose sins have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb, but sadly, that isn’t always where we feel the safest.
No one is suggesting that sin should be swept under the rug, or neglected. I have known far too many people who want forgiveness, but don’t want to experience any kind of life-changing transformation. “I’m sorry,” is not the same as true repentance. But when we come to God and our fellow man with a truly broken and contrite spirit, then we should work to help that person “restore the joy of their salvation.”
I recently started a series of workshops simply entitled BROKEN. The purpose of this series is to address HOW we should approach ministry in a very troubled world. How do we help to rebuild a broken life? How do we talk to those who have become antagonistic and distant from religious life? How do we balance love, mercy and forgiveness with justice, righteousness and repentance? Difficult questions, but relevant to the world we live in today.
For more information on Broken Workshops click here.