A Sacred Slap on the Rump?

Sometimes calamities hit us like a storm and we just cannot put a finger on the reason.

The reality is that life is life and unfortunately things do go wrong…even for faithful, trusting Christians. Accidents happen, people get sick. Evil occurs, people get hurt. A wrong word spoken in anger, a nasty reaction, a hasty decision and string of unsatisfactory events follow.

Usually we moan when things go wrong, when circumstances turn contentment and joy into bewilderment and result in a lack of peace. Do I hear an indignant: ‘Oh, no. I never get thrown!’ Really? Come off it! We do! Admit it! Even the best of us! Often it’s a bewildered ‘How could this have happened to me?’

And in the main we find someone or something to blame! But…what if the problem is our fault and we’re not recognising it as such?

And, for that matter, what if…
As often as not people blame God. Actually it’s not really funny how people always want to justify themselves and blame someone else, especially God!

But a serious thought: What if God has allowed (note: allowed, not caused) the incident – perhaps something that has gone amiss – just to get our attention because we haven’t been listening to him or flowing his way (the right way)?

For example…maybe we’ve strayed into unhealthy attitudes, negative thinking and relying on our intellect alone instead of his guidance.

Or maybe we’re allowing ourselves to separate from the security of close friendship with good friends. Maybe we’ve stopped seeking a meaningful daily relationship with God and worshipping him.

Perhaps too, we’ve been stepping out of line and drifting from biblical principles of right living, wholesome speech and decision-making, and living as Jesus Christ would.

God won’t stop loving us!
What we need to realise is this: When things go wrong and God’s blessings aren’t quite flowing as they used to, it doesn’t mean that God has stopped loving us and caring. But that it could be, like any good parent, he wants us to get back on track.

Sometimes when things go amiss it’s a case of God using the circumstances to give us a sacred smack on the rump! For, because he loves us, he delights in us putting things right and getting us back on track and starting afresh as it were.

God always has an eye on our future and wants to see us living a useful, productive and happy life. Yes, we do miss the mark at times – perhaps many times – and blow it! But Father God will give further opportunities.

The ‘eastern recipe’ for problem trees
Jesus emphasised this parental principle in Luke 13: 6-9 in telling the story of a vineyard carer who persuades his disappointed boss to give yet another chance to a tree that had been playing up for three years and was out of line with its owner’s desires.

Those listening to Jesus would have been aware of the eastern ‘recipe’ for curing barren trees. The disappointed owner takes a hatchet and goes with a friend to threaten the tree with being cut down. The friend intercedes strongly and restrains the owner from doing so – ‘Have patience with it,’ he would plead. The owner would then reluctantly agree.

But he gives the useless tree’s stem three sharp thumps with the back of the axe ‘just to remind it that it’d better shape up’ by the following year!

Could it be that when we get a sudden jolt to the system, it’s God giving us a swift smack on the rear to startle us into getting our priorities right? And it’s all because he cares about our life, happiness and future.

We’re more valuable than any tree
Consequently, maybe instead of moaning, groaning and running ourselves down – or blaming someone else – we should be asking, ‘What’s really going on here? What’s the bigger picture? What am I missing? What is God trying to tell me or teach me? What’s his bigger plan?’

If indeed what went wrong happened because we were out of line, then we need to quickly repent and ask God to help us afresh. He is the God of fresh starts! And we’re more valuable to him than any tree.

We Christians have a secret inner advantage over other people – we have God’s Holy Spirit within to help, restore and get us going again! The other good news is that when we repent and put him first, God can then work good out of our mistakes and calamities.

Paul hit the nail on the head!
Paul’s great truth of Romans 8:38-39 is very comforting and encouraging: ‘I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.’

Why did Paul’s adverse circumstances never throw him? (In Romans 8 he gives a long list of things that went or were going wrong). Verse 37 reveals the rock of his confidence…’None of this faze us because Jesus loves us.’ That’s love in Christ from Father God!

When things go wrong, let’s ask God ‘What’s the bottom line of all this?’ and then, with hearts at peace because of renewed confidence of his love and caring, move accordingly.

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