It’s truly an amazing thing. If you’ve ever seen a toddler throw a temper tantrum, you will understand this statement. No matter how much you try to explain to them why something has to be the way it is or reason with them, they just keep on doing their thing – kicking, screaming, whining and whatever else they try to throw in, all the while attempting to make the point that they are not at all pleased with the outcome of the current situation. It’s like oblivion has entered and taken the child to an entirely different reality; like Inception coming to life before our very eyes. Only this time, there is no spinning top to help them differentiate this new dimension from reality.
I think that, more often that we’d like to admit, we throw our own temper tantrums as if we’d never outgrown them. No, the mature adult doesn’t necessarily kick and scream, but we have our own ways of dealing with unwanted situations, frustrating people, and the steps of faith we are beckoned to take that require sacrifices greater than we are willing to muster. Yes, we can change our schedules to avoid the irritating or annoying people who set us off or huff and puff about the unfortunate road blocks to our plans, but we will be hard pressed to find a way to veto, renegotiate, or sidestep God’s inconvenient call that he presses on our hearts. This doesn’t stop us from trying, though. We shake our fists, stomp our feet, yell at him, go on strike from our devotions, complain about the nudging to a friend, whine about how much it will ‘hurt’ us or how ‘unprepared’ we are for the task, get down on our hands and knees to beg for a different direction, or any number of other things. But unfortunately, they will never fully alleviate us from the things that we have been called to. We may even think we are alone as we throw our little tantrum. Convinced that no one else would understand because they’ve never had an at-odds-with-God moment, but the fact of the matter is that each and every one of us seem to have an epiphany moment at one time or another after attempting to rewrite our story and change fate. What, precisely, do we learn from our little tantrums? That God is, God was, and God always will be and our little moment of outrage won’t alter the course through which he plans to walk us.
There are so many little facts that we conveniently leave out when recalling Bible stories. It’s as though we decide to exclude part of the narrative and make the person involved a little more perfect than he or she actually was. We seem to think that their humanity was supernatural in and of itself, that they weren’t fazed by the great obstacles that came up against them, and just plowed through as faithful followers, but I assure you that was not the case. Now, not all of them came off as the kicking-and-screaming-sort-of-tantrum-throwers, but we can definitely glean quite a bit from the refusal or plea for a change in fate. Let me give you a few examples…
- Moses begged God not to send him. He blatantly said, “Please, Lord, send someone else,” and God said, “No” (Exodus 4:1-17)
- Gideon tests God three times to make sure he was serious when calling him to service (Judges 6:11-24)
- Esther tried to excuse herself from going before the King, but Mordecai wrote back with a pretty blunt message (Esther 4)
Even the best of them had moments when they didn’t like the hand dealt to them. They desperately tried to fold this round, but God responded with a resounding, “No,” every single time and what a place the world would be today if he had allowed man to write hit own fate!
When we experience moments of anger towards God – whether that’s because of a situation we are in or a situation he has called us to – we have to remember that this is an outburst of our will not staying fully in check with the will of God. Christ calls us to his loving arms for forgiveness and service, but he also calls us to do the really hard thing and sacrifice our ability to throw a tantrum when we don’t like how God is handling our lives. From where we stand, the current call or situation presents as one way, but from where God sits overlooking our lives, he sees how our obedience will play our for his glory and our good. We choose to interpret verses and experiences in our life as proof that God works all things for the good of what we want (check out my post on this topic here), but the real test of faith comes when we are willing to obediently step forward when things are not as we would have chosen.
We may grow up and no longer be held accountable for our temper tantrums from those around us, but God still deals with our response to the situations he propels us into in the same way a parent would with a toddler. No matter how loud we scream, how hard we kick, or how ferociously we growl, God is not going to change his mind on what he has asked. It then becomes up to us whether or not we will obey.
I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. – Jeremiah 29:11