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In this episode...
God's Not Disappointed
Intro teaser paragraph:
People often stay away from God because they misinterpret Him as angry. But they also can stay away because they think He’s disappointed. Episode 80 of Faithful on the Clock looks at how that connects to our work life.
[00:04] - Intro
[00:33] - People often think that God is either not merciful or doesn’t care.
[01:22] - Scriptures such as the story of Noah reveal that people give up on God, not the other way around. His punishments don’t come out of the blue, but rather after repeated calls to repent.
[02:00] - Most people looking at the story of Job try to see the story from Job’s perspective and to understand why bad things happen to good people. Our sense of justice says God shouldn’t have let him suffer.
[03:07] - In Job’s story, God wasn’t testing Job so much as he was putting the devil back in his place. Job’s suffering was necessary to do that.
[04:04] - Even though Job suffered, God didn’t enjoy that suffering. The bigger picture was to keep the right order of things. Later, Jesus, who also suffered although he had not done anything wrong, would put the devil in his place for the final time.
[04:43] - People tend to transfer their experiences with others to God, comparing what they know of people to how He will be. Our sense of identity can get wrapped up in performance, too, so that if we stumble or don’t do well, we ultimately think God sees us as a letdown like everyone else does.
[06:09] - Not all suffering is to test you or has to do with your performance. Sometimes it is about God teaching the devil.
[06:41] - God is prepared for you to mess up. Like a parent who doesn’t get upset with a child who can’t pull their pants up but who really wants to succeed at it, God doesn’t get upset with us when we fail, either, so long as our hearts are in the right place.
[08:06] - All of us our priceless portraits on God’s gallery wall. There is nothing we can do to erase the beauty we have that comes from the experience He had painting us.
[10:11] - Prayer
[10:54] - Outro/What’s coming up next
What’s coming up next:
Psychological safety is a foundational element for a healthy, productive culture. What core elements are necessary to create it? Faithful on the Clock Episode 81 explores.
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Well, welcome back to the Faithful on the Clock podcast, everybody, the show where all the syrup pours on the pancake to get your faith and work aligned. Today’s show is one that I really hope is going to just encourage and uplift you, because it’s all about how God sees you, how He’s not disappointed in you, and how you can radically cling to His acceptance of you even when the office makes you want to crawl under a rock. So let’s jump in.[:
So, I know I’ve mentioned it a couple of times in the podcast newsletter, but I’m writing a book that focuses on the joy of God, and one of the things I’ve really been thinking about as I’ve been working on this project is this idea that people can get really confused about God’s nature. And they can read scriptures like the story of Noah and the flood where God wipes out almost everything and get the impression that He’s angry, or you know, that He’s not forgiving. And they just don’t understand how a God would let bad things happen to good people. And you know, if you’re familiar with C.S. Lewis, that’s one of the main questions that he asked himself, you know, as he was exploring his own faith. But people translate, particularly a lot of the stuff in the Old Testament, they translate that He’s either not merciful or He just doesn’t care.[:
Now, I wanna address that right out of the gate because you need to really understand the character of God if you’re going to understand the message of the show today, okay? And my answer to that first is that, if you look at stories like the flood, God repeatedly asked people to change and come back to Him. And they just didn’t do it. It was not God rejecting people, it was people rejecting God. And over and over again in scripture, you see that when God gets upset, there’s a reason behind that frustration. You know, punishments happen, but they don’t just come out of nowhere, and God says over and over again, if you just do what I ask you to do, I’m gonna forgive you.[:
And then let’s look at the story of Job for a second. In that story, God tells the devil what a good servant Job is. And the devil shoots back and basically says, “Well, the only reason he’s such a good servant is because You protect him from everything. If you take all that away, if you remove everything that’s made his life cushy, he’ll stink just like everybody else.” So God agrees to let the devil mess with Job. Now, Job had done absolutely nothing wrong. He did not deserve to suffer, right? And he insists on that to his friends when bad things start to happen and they try to comfort him about it. But most people, I think when they read that, they try to understand it from the perspective of Job. Right? Like, he’s a good guy, so why does he get the short end of the stick? Because we assume under our view of justice that if you haven’t done anything wrong, nothing bad should happen to you, like, you shouldn’t be getting punished. And there’s something about that view of justice that makes us rebel to see JOb go through what he goes through.[:
But what I want you to see is that Job was never the focus. It was never about, you know, reciprocity, where God’s supposed to always bless him if he just has faith. God wasn’t teaching Job anything. He already knew Job could hang in there. So if he wasn’t teaching or testing Job, what was he doing? He was teaching the devil. It was about the devil thinking he understood everything, and the devil being cocky and needing to be put in his place. And God was not about to let Satan end their debate without proving that God was, in fact, the one in power, that God was the one who knew what He was talking about. But the only way to do that was to show the devil that his prediction of what would happen was flat-out wrong. The only way to make the devil shut up and go back the way he came was to show him that Job had the faith God knew he did.[:
So when you look at the story of Job, it’s not that God wanted Job to suffer. It’s not like He enjoyed it. But it was, in fact, a mercy not just to Job, but to everybody who has faith, that God would not allow the devil to gain ground. Yes, Job suffered, but the bigger picture was that God was keeping the right order of things. And later on, that’s the same reason Jesus went to the cross. Was His death fair by the way we judge things? No. He hadn’t sinned. But that suffering ensured once and for all that the devil had to leave, that the devil had to shut his mouth.[:
Now let me tie this back to you and your work and God not being disappointed, okay? I know it’s a roundabout way. So, sometimes what happens when things don’t go well, or you know, there’s a lot of pressure and we fail, people really do get angry with us. And they make us feel like we’ve let them down or that we’re just not enough. And I think we kind of transfer that experience to God. We look at how people have treated us, and we work within this concept that we have to earn our place, and we just get absolutely lost. You know, we essentially lean on our experience and compare people to God. And so it just becomes really hard for us to think that He’s not disappointed. And so sometimes if people are really struggling in their work, you know, maybe it’s just been really hard to keep a job or there’s a demotion or they just can’t seem to advance the way everyone else tells them they should be advancing, they internalize it really hard. And some of that I think is really cultural. You know, in the United States, you can tell we associate work with who we are because we use the verb “to be” in different forms to describe what we do. So like, a doctor, they could say, “I practice medicine.” But what they usually say is, “I’m a doctor.” So it’s all really tied up with our sense of identity, and we can get this warped sense that if we’re failing in our work, or if we’re suffering, then that must mean that God is punishing us or looking at us as just this huge letdown.[:
But friends, that’s the Job focus. That’s the mentality Job’s friends had, that if you suffer, it’s got to be your fault. And I’m here to tell you, plain and clear, not all suffering is to test you, and it doesn’t need to have anything to do with how you’ve performed. Sometimes you are not the one who needs to learn, and it’s God reminding the devil of Who really has authority. And for Him to do that is actually an incredibly loving thing to do, because it protects the eternity we have with Him.[:
And the second thing is, God is totally prepared for you to fudge things up, okay? He understands you might not do as well as Job did. He understands that you don’t know everything and that you can’t do everything, and I know the business world can be pretty hardcore when it comes to getting things right and bouncing around all kinds of roles, but God isn’t going to smite you or hold back on loving you just because you’re human. Does He want you to try hard and say no to as much temptation as you can? Absolutely. But it’s like a parent and a little toddler. You know, when my kids were little, they couldn’t even pull their own pants up. I know every parent understands that. But it’s not like I looked at them failing at it and thought, “Oh, my goodness, they’ve just totally let me down so much, I can’t even, I want nothing to do with them.” No. I looked at them and I kept loving on them no matter how many times they couldn’t get the dumb pants up. And that’s what it’s like when we fail or we sin. God knows our hearts. He knows we wanna pull the pants up, right? But He doesn’t hold it against us. If you actually respect God and you care and you’re genuinely trying, I promise you, He has Jesus get in there and take care of your pants for you because you can’t do it alone yet. Someday God’ll have us in heaven and we’ll be better, but until then, we’ve got help, believe me.[:
So, one last thought I want to leave you with is this idea that we are all portraits in God’s gallery, okay? And sometimes what happens when we’re not advancing or we’re screwing up is that we lose a sense of how unique we are. You know, we think, “Well, there are billions of other people on the planet, so why would God help me out? Why would He help me beat this temptation or win this client or whatever it might be?” And everything just gets just really coated in this sense of embarrassment or even, really, shame. And when we feel shame it’s hard to come to God. It’s hard to pray. So we stay away from God maybe not so much because we’re scared, but just because we don’t understand how He’s viewing us anymore. We replay everything in our heads that people have said, or the devil gets in there and whispers that, you know, our canvas is just really ugly. Because the devil knows that the best way to hurt God is to make us think that we’re ugly so that we don’t have joy anymore. Because if we don’t see our beauty, if we don’t understand that God wants us to have joy and that He’s totally willing to provide it, well, then there’s not much reason to seek God out, right? We get separated from Him. But the value you have based on the unique experience God had when He painted you is permanent. And it always belongs to the artist. You know, God didn’t create you for the critic. He created you for Himself, and He’s not comparing you to any other painting He’s got, because He doesn’t have a duplicate of you. And nobody gets to tell God what should or should not be on the gallery wall. And that includes, by the way, you. You don’t get to decide that you’re worthless. You don’t get to decide God doesn’t want you anymore, okay? You might feel like He doesn’t sometimes, but quite frankly, sometimes what we feel doesn’t align with God’s truth. And God’s truth is that as long as you have faith, He’s never gonna take you off that gallery wall.[:
So, I’m just gonna leave it there, people. Let’s pray.
Lord, so many people misunderstand you as just being so angry. And they can tie that into all kinds of abuses they’ve suffered from people. And they can think you’re disappointed in them based on the way others have been disappointed or made them feel ugly and less than. So God, please help them get past those feelings of fear and guilt, just the shame that can keep them distant. Help them see the unique colors you’ve painted them with and how precious a canvas they are. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.[:
That’s the show, everybody. I really encourage you, if you’re struggling with coming to God because you feel like He’s disappointed in you or you’re not good enough, if you’ve got that kind of shame, reread the story of the Prodigal Son. Because yes, it’s a mercy story, but it’s a joy story. The father, when the son came home, even though the son had done all this junk, the father flat-out threw a party he was so happy to have his son back. God wants you home, all right? Next episode, I’m gonna be covering a couple of things people need to have a sense of psychological safety in the office. Join me for that in two weeks, and until then, be blessed.