“I’m Not Sure I Believe Anymore!”

These were the words of a young wife who came to see me for counseling. Her husband of a few years had left her for someone else, and she was angry and mortified at the prospects of divorce. “Can’t God just make him get right?” she cried. She grew up in church where she heard and was taught that God, not only could, but would, help His “children” resolve and fix all their problems. She cried saying that her pastor would always tell the congregation that no matter what the problem was, you just had to “trust in Jesus,” and God would work things out. So, here she was just a few years into her marriage, and she was facing what seemed an eminent divorce, and she was angry that “Jesus” had not fixed her marriage problems, and made things right. She was angry, frustrated, disillusioned, and doubtful if God even existed at all.

For me, this was not a rare or strange circumstance, in my 30 years of counseling, I have encountered this frustration in many “believers.” In fact, most of the persons who come to see me for counseling are “believers.” I put that word in quotations, because they claim to be believers, and since I cannot read minds, I assume they probably are. On the other hand, their lives do not prove it. Most people, like the young wife above, have religious ideas about who God is, and what He is supposed to do, and how. Too many times, also like the young wife above, they believe things which were told to them, rather than what they themselves read and studied in the Bible. In other words, they are believing what their pastors, teachers, and other “Christians” told them, and not what God Himself told them via His Word. Therefore, many persons hold onto strange beliefs, as to who God is, and what is to be expected of Him. Then, when things do not turn out the way they were told, they get mad at God for not complying with what these other people taught about Him.

The biggest part of the overall problem, from my estimation, is that these angry and frustrated people forget that God gave them, as well as everyone else on earth the right of self-will. They will hear those words on still have no clue what they mean. They will argue they understand that self-will means someone can choose whether or not to obey God, but in the next breathe, they will argue that God should make their children, husband, wife, or someone else they care about, behave correctly and stop doing the wrong things. And, if God does not force these wrong-doers to change and behave, they blame God and get angry with Him. If God were to force the people to do right and behave, then He is just a liar, and no real God!

What went wrong in the young wife’s marriage? Was it that God lost control of her husband, or that He did not make the husband act correctly? Is God refusing to help her, when she is adamantly believing that “Jesus is the “answer?” Or, was it that at some point in their marriage one of them began doing what was wrong, and the other was no doing what was right? The Bible teaches in James 4:17 (NASB), “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” In our discussions, I came to find out that the husband had done other things which should not have been acceptable, and that the wife did not impose consequences on him. The principle here is this, “Where there are no consequences, there is permission.”

As we continued counseling, she mentioned these unacceptable actions and behavior on the husband’s part. Each time I asked her if she imposed consequences, she said, “Yes.” But, when I asked her to tell me what the consequences were, she would explain how she would either get mad at him, and tell him off, give him the cold-shoulder, or at times, the silent treatment. Each time I said, “In other words, you did nothing, right?” Consequences are real if there is something we might lose, which we do not want to lose. God works like this, He will let you suffer the consequences of your choices. If you do something wrong, then He will probably not rescue you from the consequences. The same is true of when you don’t do what is right, you will probably suffer the consequences. So then, why was her marriage in shambles? Why had her husband left her for someone else? Why wasn’t Jesus fixing her marriage and problems? Because they both made decisions which had real and serious consequences. The only thing God did was to keep His word and let them suffer the consequences of their choices. Until she comes to understand this truth, she will continue to be angry with, and frustrated by God.

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