I Don’t Want to Play God (Because He Always Absorbs the Pain)
Playing God is never quite what we imagine it to be. When I envision what I would do with almighty power, I imagine crushing my enemies, answering all of my own prayers, and blessing everyone I love. With a flick of my finger, wars would end, children would be adopted, and sickness would be healed. My frustrations with God often are directly connected to what I would do if I were God.
Usually, that has something to do with my own comfort and general selfishness because I am not holy, and my ways are not His. I would never choose the ways of God because I would not want to inflict myself with the pain that God absorbs.
We live out our day wondering why God allows pain in our lives and forget that He Himself has carried the burden of our pain up the long road to Calvary.
I have spent a lot of my life trying to avoid pain. I take ibuprofen when my head hurts, I quit exercising earlier than I should to avoid sore muscles and the ache of lungs stretched to capacity, and when someone hurts my feelings, I avoid eye contact and screen their calls. Because forgiveness is hard, messy work. It cuts to our core.
In his book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller reminds us that whether we seek revenge or extend forgiveness, someone always pays the price, someone always feels the pain. When we seek revenge against those who hurt us, we to try and force them to pay for the pain their wrong made us feel. But forgiveness, forgiveness means we absorb the pain inflicted upon us and leave the other person free to walk.
God is always absorbing the pain. Again and again, I hurt God. I doubt His goodness when He’s only ever been faithful. I run after other idols, family, works, material things, my reputation, instead of seeking the heart of the only One who satisfies. I ignore His commandments, only meant for my welfare, and think I know better. Instead of loving the image of God in the people He has created, I scorn and hurt those around me as if they are not worthy of my best.
My actions consistently hurt and break God’s heart but instead of seeking revenge, He carried my sin on His back and allowed Himself to be beaten and crucified to absorb my wrongs and restore our relationship.
In my friendships, in my marriage, I am relinquishing my desire to play God because in relationships, God is always the one getting hurt. But it doesn’t stop there, when God is hurt, He actually extends love. Over and over. That means that I no longer bear the pain of the wrongs I have done. Revenge has not been sought. I have dealt in pain and been repaid with excessive love.
This lavish love means that I am filled up when I am hurt. As I absorb pain, forgiving others, I am refilled with the goodness God has given me. He has been good.
So I am relinquishing the desire to play God and instead am settling for modeling after God. Because the good news is that God will not call us to something that He will not equip us for. In fact, when it is hard, that is when He promises to equip us with His strength. His strength is magnified in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12).
We cannot bear on our own what He has called us to do but again and again He reminds us that He is walking beside us, pursuing us with His goodness and mercy, loving us no matter the cost it brings on Himself.
I don’t want to play God because I know that I cannot carry that cross. Thankfully, God Himself already carried that burden and freed me from the curse of sin. Now, I can live with the love He has shown and the endless support of His grace.
This was an interesting read, and has given me a lot to think about what I do daily.
I’m glad you found it thought provoking, Kylie.
That is an interesting perspective on forgiveness. It’s certainly something I struggle with, and I’ve never really thought of it as absorbing the blow before. Just because you’ve forgiven doesn’t meant it won’t still hurt.
Yes, it is hard but someone always pays the price. Grateful that God was willing to absorb the blow for my sin.
I’m not at all religious, but I was drawn to this line: “I have spent a lot of my life trying to avoid pain. “. I was reading recently about a new approach to mental health that says that we should not avoid distress and pain, but treat them as opportunities for connection with other people. I wonder if this could be extended to connection to God in your case?
That is really interesting, Kate. I definitely think that pain is something that God uses and that’s it’s an opportunity for growth.
None of us is perfect and God knows it 🙂 But if you are a good person he knows it for sure! Great post !
Yes but, unfortunately, I don’t think my goodness quite makes up for the ickiness in my life. Grateful for His forgiveness.
This is so encouraging to me…thank you for writing it. Forgiveness really is life-changing.
It is such a challenge but so life-giving.
God is there for us even how much we neglect or take Him for granted. Just grateful for the unconditional love
Isn’t it amazing?