I once lost a friend in a way that still stings. After building our relationship for several years, mapping her emotional trenches, talking her through several crises and sharing our confidences, she suddenly stopped calling or responding to me. After a month of wondering, I finally asked whether I had upset her, thinking I surely couldn’t have done anything extreme enough to warrant complete and silent rejection; there had to be another explanation. But in fact, I had made one careless, judgmental statement which had hurt her feelings. I did sincerely apologize, but she never let me close again. If she had, I would have wanted to ask her whether, after everything we had been through together, she truly believed I was the kind of person who intended to hurt her – because that is what she assumed, and that is how she treated me. She backed away from me as you would from a strange and hostile dog, forgetting the well-known companion who had long accompanied and comforted her. As I was praying to forgive this woman, it suddenly occurred to me that I do the very same thing to my Heavenly Father all the time. I treat Him as though He meant to harm me.
I question His goodness. I retreat from the circumstances He sends me. I doubt His presence with me. I parse His words, looking for the catch, the threat, the deception. I have been a Christian for thirty-five years, and this same Lord has walked me through life and death, depression and loss, forgiveness and renewal. But even had I just learned this very day of His terrible sufferings for me, that alone ought to be enough for me to run toward Him in my pain rather than backing away in dread or disappointment. Anyone who would endure the torments of hell on my behalf can be trusted. No one who loves me that much can mean me harm, even if I don’t understand what He is doing. So, God, it breaks my heart that I have treated you like a strange and hostile dog rather than the dearest friend of my heart. Your prodigal daughter has run from You rather than toward You. Please forgive me for ever treating You as though You meant to harm me.