Why God Blesses those who reject him

When I was a kid, in my early teens, I would curse God. I was depressed, feeling unloved, always angry…you know, those normal adolescent emotional waves of trauma that we all go through. And like many people who don’t understand God, I blamed Him. I had no idea that all the time I was cursing and blaming God for all the bad things in my life, He was gently leading me to Him, to salvation, and protecting me. Both physically and spiritually.

Eventually (it took nearly another 25 years) I found my way to Him. Now I understand better how the world works and how God works. Please don’t get me wrong- I do not understand all about how God works, I just understand it better than I used to.

And one thing I have learned, and truly believe, is that God’s love is totally absent of ego. Oh, He says He is a jealous God, and He is, but I do not believe it is the jealousy we feel, as humans. As a human, my jealousy is selfish, self-centered and (usually) leads to destructive behaviour, either against myself, the person I am jealous for, or both.

I believe (and I have to say this is not something I can quote from the Bible, so I am sharing just my belief) that God is totally focused on our well being. He cares for us so much that He loves and cares for us even when we reject Him for anything else, such as another god, another person, or Monday Night Football; whatever comes between us and God is an idol that separates us from all that God wants us to have. And that is what gets His goat. He is not jealous that we are not loving or worshipping Him for something else, He is jealous that we are not doing what is best for ourselves.

In other words, He is not selfishly angry that He is left out, He is un-selfishly angry that we are hurting ourselves.

Think of someone you love who constantly does things that are bad for him or her: drinking too much, using other drugs that are harmful, maybe never seeing a doctor, never exercising, eating too much, dating total jerks and users…whatever. It is harmful to them, and because you love them it burns you inside that they do this to themselves. And there’s usually little or nothing we can do about it.

It’s like the joke: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?    Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.”

When people don’t want to be better to themselves, we who love them have to sit on the sidelines and try to help when we can, suffering for them and with them, all the time feeling helpless and forlorn. That’s sort of how God feels when we reject Him.

In the real world, we can’t do anything to change a person’s behaviour if they don’t want to change. The best we can do is be a light for them, an example of what they can feel or be if they do change. And during this process of watching them destroy themselves, we will try to be supportive, try to direct them to the right path, then inevitably (often for our own protection) leave them to their own devices. Or vices, as the case may be.

That’s what God does. He will bless those who curse Him, He will protect them even when they tell Him to leave them alone. God loves us that much. Eventually, though, if someone totally rejects God, and does so long enough, God may just leave them alone. After all, His love is so great that He will do what we ask, even if it may hurt us. Being omniscient, maybe He knows when to leave us alone so that the world will beat us up so much we might finally look to Him for salvation instead of ourselves, or some other god or drug or social fad?  Maybe, maybe not.

I read how someone asked Billy Graham’s daughter how a good God could allow such evil in the world (I think this was after the Columbine murders) and she said, in brief, that we have asked God to leave our lives, to leave our government, and to leave our schools (thank you very much, Brown vs. the Board.) And, being the gentleman He is, He has. That’s why there is so much violence and evil in these places today.

I don’t need to go on about how God has helped, guided, protected and blessed me even as I was rejecting and cursing Him. I am certain that most of you can look back in your lives and remember a time when this was true for you, too. That’s why I don’t need to go into detail anymore than what I have already said.

The point is this: God’s love is so holy, so unselfish, so far beyond any love any human can generate, that He is happy to bless us when we reject Him, when we ignore His Torah, when we teach others to ignore His Torah, and even when we fervently deny the very truth of His existence. In the Manual the Lord says He will have mercy on those He will have mercy on , and not on those He will not. It also says He rains on the just and unjust, alike. God loves us all, and it doesn’t matter if we love Him back or not.

I remember hearing a story in Jewish lore, maybe it’s in the Talmud, but it goes this way:

After the Jewish people crossed the Red Sea, and as the waters were crushing in on the Egyptian soldiers, destroying the army of the Pharaoh, the angels in heaven wanted to sing for joy at the salvation of the Jewish people. But God said not to sing, and when they asked why not, His reply was, “Because my children are dying.” That’s how much He loves everyone.

Unrequited love is hard to live with- I am certain that all of you reading this have had to live through it at one time or another in your life.  I know, absolutely, that every parent has had to live through a time when their own children hated them. I myself have two children whom I  love and miss terribly. They have used me, taken me on an emotional roller-coaster ride and as each one reached maturity (legal maturity, not emotional) and received the inheritance from my parents they were due, they rejected me. It wasn’t even that much money, and they squandered it before it got warm in their hands. They were raised by their mother and it’s a long story; I think I can safely assume that I am not the only one who has such a story to tell. Yet, if they wanted to reconcile (which is my daily prayer) I would do so in a heartbeat, because my heart still beats for both of them. That will never change. And that’s why I think I can understand, to some degree, how God feels and why He still blesses those that hate Him.

That’s just how love works.


Sin is a Sure Bet

My wife and I went on a small get-away vacation the past 4 days. We took a cruise to the Caribbean: just an out and back sort of thing. It was nice- we love cruising.

There is, on every cruise ship, a casino. Usually I don’t play, but now and then I do enjoy spending some money at the Black Jack table. I call it spending money because that’s what it usually comes down to. The trick for me is to choose to spend, let’s say $50, and see how long I can play with that.

There was another game there. It was like a claw game, but with a key-shaped end and you needed to line up this plunger so that it fit, exactly, through an opening. If you lined it up exactly, you could spend $1.00 and win $1,000.00 in cash.

I blew $50 trying. I still think it was a good investment- I spent a lot more than that for before-dinner martini’s.

Here’s the lesson I got from the Ruach about the Dollar for a Grand game- sin is just like that game. It promises a greatly desired return for what seems to be a small cost. It’s the “Get Something for Nothing” mentality of humans that makes sin so easy to creep into our life.

When I was a salesman I often heard people tell me about unscrupulous sales people who took advantage of others. When I listened to these stories, many of which are true, it reminded me of the old Bunko stories (con games used to be called Bunko): the one thing they all had in common was that the “victim” was suckered into the scheme because there was the promise of getting a lot back for a little up front.

Selfishness and greed- that is what gets people “ripped off”. Honest people with ein bissele seychel (Yiddish for” a little common sense”) almost never get “taken”. It’s usually the ones who think they can get a deal.

Sin doesn’t come right up to you and say, “Hi! I’m sin and I want to ruin your life.” Of course, in some neighborhoods it can be almost like that, but generally sin is more secretive. It says, “Hi. I have something that I know you would want, and I am open to discussing giving it to you at a really great rate. All you need to do is …..” and by then you’re hooked. It starts slow and easy, with no real indication of where it’s taking you, but once you fall for the something-for-nothing allure you are on your way.

That’s how I blew $50. It started with $20, then another $10. Later that night I thought I figured out how to make it work, so there went another $20.  At that point, I stopped thinking how easily I could earn (earn? Really?) back the cost of the entire cruise and listened to the Ruach say, “Vas machsta? Bist du meshuggah?” (What’s going on? Are you crazy?”)

I must confess that I still, days later, feel that if I only put another $20 or so into it I could have beaten that machine. You know what that means? That not only am I foolishly greedy, but now pridefulness is stepping in, too. Now I need to “beat” that inanimate object that is specifically designed by mechanical engineers to make me feel like just one more try and I’ll win. But, in truth, it is nearly impossible to do so.

We need to be careful about sin creeping into our lives. It always promises things that we want, it appeals to our sinful nature: it appeals to our greediness, our pride, our vanity. It usually appears harmless, and often will seem like something we should do to benefit others ( I was thinking how happy Donna would be if I won the money.) But when we look at it through spiritual eyes, we can see the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

There is an old saying: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Sin is like that; it looks good, it seems easy enough to do, and it offers great rewards for very little input. Don’t be fooled by ‘easy gets good’, because we all know, in the long run, anything worth having is worth working for, and you always get what you pay for. If you think you will get something for nothing in a world that is cursed, you’re a fool.

Don’t be a fool. The only thing that is good to have and is free of charge is Salvation, the Grace that God offers us. Well, wait a minute- that wasn’t free, really. First of all, Yeshua had to suffer and die to make it available to us, so it certainly wasn’t free to Him.  And even though all we need to do is call on the name of the Lord to be saved, we need to work at our salvation. We need to demonstrate our T’Shuvah by becoming more holy. We need to stop sinning, or at least, continue to sin less. We need to work at it, we need to spend time and money to make ourselves better and more pleasing to God by doing the things that God told us to do. That isn’t easy, and it will cost money (you should tithe and give to charity), it will cost time (you should volunteer to help people and participate in synagogue/church activities), and it will cost you (some) friends and family if you really start to worship God in everything you do.

Sin is easy to get, promises to cost you little and give you a lot, but the truth is eventually it will cost you everything you have, and more. There is no reward to sin.

Salvation is free to get, but expensive to keep. However, the ultimate reward is worth it.