I get questions.
Answering them is one of the more enjoyable things I get to do. Loved this one, and the asker –
especially in this season so focused on God forgiving us:
Rob ministered to a woman last Monday. Towards the end he became aware that she was harboring unforgiveness towards God for not rescuing her when she was being abused as a child. A woman in our group asked ” where in scripture can you find that God needs forgiving.” It was rattling because that is not what Rob said. So question. Are Rob and I unbiblical because of our belief that she was holding onto “unforgiveness” against God?
Answer (at least this week):
I think what is being overlooked in this matter of forgiveness is who the forgiveness is really for. Does God “need” to be forgiven? I don’t suppose so. But most of us feel that way when we fill abandoned/ignored/ dumped etc by him! Hence we have wonderfully dark Psalms of complaint like Psalm 88…or try Psalm 73 on for size. “God is good…but BOY did I ever have a beef with him…until I finally saw things more clearly.” Watch the journey revealed there. Psychologically and spiritually we have to navigate our gripes with God through complaint and lament – which is what those Psalms are for. To stifle that by saying, “God doesn’t need forgiveness – he doesn’t have to answer to you and you have no right to speak to him about your ‘issues'” shuts down the healing process and denies the Psalms (the Word!) their God designed purpose in helping us through our hurts.
Does God need forgiveness? Perhaps not. But do we ever need to go through the process of forgiving him!
Oh yes we do.
Which reminds me of a story told by Lawrence Kushner. One of my all time favs.
THE STORY IS TOLD OF RABBI LEVI YITZHAK OF BERDITCHEV that once on Kol Nidre, the holiest night of the year when all sins are confessed, the tailor, one of the most devout members of the community, was absent. Concerned, the rabbi left the synagogue and went to the tailor’s home. To his surprise he found the tailor looking at a piece of paper before him on the table.
“What’s the matter?” asked Levi Yitzhak.”
“Oh, everything’s fine,” replied the tailor. “As I was getting ready to attend the service I made a list with two columns. At the top of one I wrote my name and at the top of the other I wrote, ‘God of all the Universe.’ Then, one by one, I began to list my sins. ‘Cheated Goldman out of a pair of trousers.’ And in God’s column I noted God’s omission: ‘Little girl died of diphtheria.’ Then the next sin, ‘Lost my temper with my children,’ and in God’s column, ‘I heard there was famine in another country.’” And so it went. The tailor showed the rabbi the completed list. “And for every sin I had committed during the past year, God had done one too. So I said to God, ‘Look, we each have the same number of sins. If you let me off, I’ll let You off!’”
But the story doesn’t end there. When the rabbi looked at the paper his face grew red and he scolded his friend: “You fool! You had Him and you let Him go!”
Lesson: Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hasty to let God go.
We may not be ready yet.
God, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do…