wrote the blog below on the 10th anniversary of my husband Rick Ferguson’s death in a terrible car accident. It was a place of tremendous loss for me and my family. A place — I would come to see — that would be ripe for anger, disappointment and bitterness to fester. I could easily become offended by the God that had allowed this terrible tragedy to tear our lives senselessly apart. A secondary battleground in our suffering is the fight to “remain unoffended” first posted here. In our current series on Facing Struggle, Adversity, and Suffering we are reposting this piece in order to encourage others to remain unoffended in their darkest moments.
Ten years ago today unexpected, unwanted circumstances invaded my life. I became a widow and my children lost their father. We joined the masses of innumerable families where death visited far too soon.
God was behaving unpredictably. We wanted to know why this happened to us. Surely an explanation would be forthcoming to make divine sense of our pain.
As believers we could proclaim with the sincerest of heart that we would not question God. And in our good moments we pulled that off.
Yet in darkness, aloneness and at empty holiday tables the “why” came tumbling out, which would often be followed by —“It’s not fair!”
We are disoriented by the interruptions in our lives. A sense of injustice is hard to quell. There is no fairness in a kind, humble man dying at age 46, or in a four year old with leukemia, or when a job termination has been forced upon us. Seeds of bitterness, anger and disillusionment can easily sneak into our hearts.
At the point of these painful wounds we may become offended by God.
The term “offended” comes straight from the lips of Jesus to one of his followers whose life took a dramatically bad turn. “Blessed is he who is not offended because of me” was the message relayed to an imprisoned John the Baptist by his disciples. John was disillusioned and isolated. Jesus was performing profound public miracles yet John remained shackled. In these words to John’s disciples Jesus seemed to be sending the message “John, I won’t be making all your wrongs right.” These are hard words for the man who stuck his neck out for the Messiah.
Maybe John the Baptist was saying to Jesus, via his messengers, “It’s not fair!”
Jesus knew the leanings of the human heart, “Remain unoffended” He said.
I could easily create a scenario where my husband, Rick, stuck his neck out for God and this was the thanks he got. Oh, yes being offending was a real possibility.
In the ten years that have passed I have wrestled to remain unoffended. My heart is tenderized to others who enter this familiar struggle.
These three ideas are my constant companions to remain unoffended:
- Accept that which has been withheld from you.
- Surrender your need for an explanation—live with the mystery.
- Focus on what He IS doing and not what He did NOT do.
This verse has also held strong keys for freedom from offense: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
In basic terms this verse says: There is info ONLY God will have. There is info I will NEVER have. I have to live OUT of what IS revealed to me, not focus on the unrevealed.
Four simple revelations that saved my life and continue to save my life:
- His love never fails.
- His mercies are new every morning.
- We can see the goodness of God again in the land of the living.
- Blessed is the man/woman who trusts in the Lord.
Friends, I don’t know the source of offense in your life. While mine is a mile marker on an interstate, yours may be an act of violence, divorce papers, the face of a child that slipped away, or like John the Baptist—your ministry life has gone badly awry.
The blessing of remaining unoffended is an unexplainable, irrational peace. It is childlike trust in the face of epic unanswerable questions.
Fight for it.
It may be the platform for the clearest testimony of your life.
Published April 13, 2016