Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wrath of God

Even though we are sinners, parents know the conflicting feelings when kids do things to hurt themselves.  Maybe the child wandered off and got lost at Target.  Maybe the preschooler ran into the busy street.  Maybe the toddler reached out to put her hand on the red-hot burner on the electric stove.   Maybe the teenager fell in with the wrong crowd and is hanging out where crimes are committed.  The parents love the child.  The parents want to protect the child.  Mixed in with all this love and protection is some anger.  It's not sinful anger (although it's certainly possible for sinful anger to be mixed in too).  There is justified, righteous anger that the one you love --more than you love yourself-- is hurting himself.

Being angry does NOT mean the parents don't love.  Quite the opposite.  If the parents didn't love so profoundly, there wouldn't be anger. 

I spent decades confused by what it is to "fear, love, and trust" in God.  But when I experienced what it is to fear, love, and trust a person, I began to understand how those are not conflicting verbs.  Now I'm beginning to see, in the same way, that the experience of motherhood helps me have an inkling of how wrath and love co-exist.

Psalm 85 tells us that
the Lord has forgiven the iniquity of His people. 
He has covered all their sin. 
He has taken away all His wrath. 
He has turned from the fierceness of His anger.   

If He has "taken away all His wrath," that means there was wrath.  The forgiveness of sin took away His wrath toward us.  But it was there, and something caused it to cease. 

I suppose it's not reasonable to think that a loving God could be wrathful.  But there are lots of things the Bible says that our puny, reasonable minds cannot comprehend: the trinity and the incarnation for starters.  We don't jettison the clear words of Scripture just because our finite reason cannot understand.

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