Putting an End to Contending with God
Homosexual desires are often rooted in a deep-seated case against God. Hot emotions such as anger, disappointment, confusion, or fear are stored from painful situations in childhood. From the pain the person questions why God permitted such things to happen. Many feel frustrated that God seemed to ignore their prayers and did just what He wanted, permitting the suffering to continue or even get worse. To many, it seemed like they were pushing against an immovable wall or blocked from the happiness they sought.
While many people never openly voice a complaint against the Lord, they may have deep unanswered questions or worse, a seething anger against Him. In their emotions, they may carry a grudge against God or fear that, if they try to pray, He will only make the situation worse. Some of my counselees are afraid to pray and they feel unacceptable because they think God will not receive them kindly. This emotional and mental upset toward God is prime ground for the evil one to sow the seeds of discontent and bitterness. It is this continuous bad feeling against the Lord that many are embarrassed about and afraid to discuss openly. Yet, keeping this hidden has disastrous consequences: the negative emotions connect to the sex drive at puberty. Then Satan offers some form of perverted sin as a seeming escape from the frustration of contending with God. If the person joins in with this temptation, a pattern of getting angry with the Immovable One, feeling a desire to get away from it all, stirred sexual desire followed by sexual sin develops.
If we are to break this addictive cycle, we must give up contending with God, no matter how angry or confused we feel. To contend means to argue or strive with, or to challenge and push against. Most times the person with a case against God accuses Him of some great injustice or evil. Because God seems to be guilty of evil, the frustrated, hurting person feels justified in accusing God or rebelling against Him. Such fire in the belly causes smoke in the head! Since God is totally holy and sinless in His motives and actions, we never have a valid case against Him. In other words, our arguments or accusations regarding His unfairness or evil intent never are correct. No matter how angry we are, we never can make a case that God is wrong. Yet Satan encourages us in our folly of charging God with wrongdoing. When the person feels pain, an ungodly reaction of arguing or striving is triggered along with a desire to do evil.
We must choose to accept the painful situations we have experienced (or may be experiencing at present) as permitted by a loving Father whose desire is to destroy the works of the devil and perfect us in love and holiness. Though we live in a world where sin is pervasive, God still reigns. He will not let sin and Satan do their ultimate work of destroying us; rather, God will turn every evil around so that His ultimate good plan may be worked in our lives. We must give up our striving and repent of accusing God of evil. Permit me to offer a fresh experience to illumine this point.
In March, 2005 my mother was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. She had had a mammogram twenty years before and vowed never to have another because of the pain it caused her. (Because of a chest injury I suffered on the job several years ago I had to have a mammogram and I know exactly what she meant!) Unfortunately, this irrational emotional reaction gave the cancer opportunity to grow. When she later discovered a lump, it was too late. She had a radical partial mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation. At first my mother was very depressed, but then she vowed to fight. She made a remarkable recovery and returned to her busy, energetic lifestyle. She even became a school crossing guard. We all were glad to see her “recovery” and continued to plan outings and activities together. Last year my wife and I took my parents on a surprise trip to Hawaii. She loved Oahu and talked about returning to see another island. She couldn’t wait to see her grandchildren graduate from college. The path ahead seemed bright, even though she was anxious about a possible recurrence.
In the summer of this year, she detected redness around the scar. Subsequent testing confirmed that the cancer had returned. A new regimen of chemotherapy was begun, and a trip to Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center here in Manhattan confirmed that the prescribed course of action begun by her physicians in Pennsylvania was the correct one. Shortly thereafter she began to develop severe nausea and headaches. A brain scan revealed that the cancer had spread to her brain, but surgery was not possible. Radiation was begun immediately but her nausea worsened preventing her from continuing with the treatments. She was admitted to the hospital, but after a few days her condition worsened; she developed extreme pain in her legs, restlessness and mental confusion. Two days later she was unresponsive; forty-eight hours later she died.
Needless to say, her death was a shock for us all, especially me. I felt a lump in my throat when she said that she had detected the redness around her incision. I was aware of serious concern in the specialist at Sloan-Kettering as he slowly and compassionately discussed the need to increase the aggressiveness of the current treatment. I felt helpless when my mother, rubbing her head in the hospital, cried “Why am I not getting better?” And I felt a shock wave when the doctor told me confidentially to get everything in order quickly, and prepare for a possible precipitous decline in her condition. Two days afterward, when my sister called me at my apartment in New York City in tears to tell me that my mother was unresponsive, I feared the worse—that she would die before I had a chance to see her. My wife and I raced to Pennsylvania, arriving at 3am to find her gasping for every breath, unable to speak intelligibly or open her eyes.
We stayed with her all that day, leaving only to get a quick bite to eat. We talked to her and stroked her arms and head. And we prayed fervently that God would work a miracle, but that if He would not that He would have mercy on my mother and end her suffering. As the minutes dragged on into hours, I began to get frustrated with God. Didn’t He see my mother’s desperate condition? How much longer was He going to make her endure this? Why didn’t He just take her and end her misery? Why didn’t He do what was right? Why was I even praying to Him if He wasn’t going to do what I wanted? The anguish I felt watching my mother fight for every breath was wearing me down. I felt like I was pushing against a wall–no matter how earnestly I begged, God was not going to listen. It felt as I often did as a child when I passionately cried out for another body and personality and friends, or for certain girls to like me when they never did. I felt frustration as when I could do nothing to erase my life and start over again in a different place and family. The anger I was experiencing at my mother’s bedside led to frustration and then resentment; from here it was not too far to hopelessness and thoughts of assisted suicide. I just couldn’t understand why God permitted this awful situation to continue.
Then I realized what I was going through. By some act of grace I was able to see things from a different perspective. I began to see a glimmer of goodness in the present circumstance. Watching my mother suffer seemed to press out of me the remaining anger and bitterness I held toward her for the hurtful things she had said and done over the years. In the face of her imminent death I didn’t have any malice or delight in her pain. My heart was broken by her suffering and felt nothing but love toward her. During the hours I spent with her I told her that I held nothing against her. With a cracking voice I said that I did not hate her as she feared. Seeing her like this made me very sad, and I told her that I did not want to see her leave us in death.
As I said these things I also repented of my contentiousness toward God. As I did, the heaviness lifted. I felt the anger slowly drain away and I was able to apologize to the Lord for being rash in my accusations. A sense of calm peace settled in and I was able to read scripture to my mother and pray over her. My change of attitude gave me opportunity to see God differently. I realized He was being gracious to us. He had allowed all of the family to be present, and though my mother’s suffering seemed prolonged, it actually was rather brief. (A friend of my mother’s told us afterwards that she had nursed her daughter with cancer for seven years!) She hadn’t died while we were on the way to the hospital. The nurses were exceptionally kind and caring in attending to my mother’s needs. I would have never been able to see the graciousness of God had I continued to contend with God.
While turning away from accusing God is not the only step in uprooting evil desire, it is a necessary one! If you will put away the old arguments and childish reactions, you experience a change. God knows your grief and pain, and He is not trying to hurt you. He wants you to express your pain to Him but to stop short of accusing Him. If you do this, a spiritual breakthrough will happen. Choose to listen to the Spirit when He declares that God is love and in Him there is no evil or sin. Though you can’t make sense of the situation, actively declare that God is working great good in your life. Praise Him for being kind and wise. Submit to His plan at that moment. Stop contending with the Lord!
Working the Emotional Roots of Homosexuality – Part 6
by Robert Schaeffer