I assume everyone reading this blog is already familiar with the phrase ‘the honeymoon is over.’ It’s the accepted fact that after newlyweds are finished with their honeymoon, (and real-life begins, *gasp*), that the excitement of being married is no longer novel, and the reality of living with another imperfect person brings heartache never thought possible during that honeymoon phase.
In 2018, my family experienced this in regard to purchasing a home and moving. When we were prospective home buyers, I couldn’t believe how beautiful the home we were getting actually was. We were excited about the location, the new yard, the house itself, the layout, the features, and just the excitement of moving.
We moved in on June 7 and for days we felt like pinching ourselves as we looked around. “I can’t believe this is ours,” we’d say. Then one day, something changed. I noticed that the handle on a toilet was broken. The weatherstripping on the front door was peeling off. And whoever painted the interior wasn’t very good at cutting in. The bushes were overgrown, etc.
What Happened? And Where Is He Going With This?
What happened was the longer we dwelt in our new home, the more we saw its imperfections. Defects were present, yet not accounted for, throughout the purchase and inspection period. But in our excitement about a new home and fear of losing it, we overlooked them. The widespread manifestation of this phenomenon leads me to conclude that this is unintentional or subconscious. That is, nobody thinks about overlooking these defects prior to marriage or home buying, it’s as if it is built into humans to do this.
I have noticed a Christian honeymoon phase that follows a similar pattern. A new believer ‘gets saved’ and is enamored with Jesus Christ. As time goes on, the new believer starts to learn more about his or her Savior by reading the Bible, going to church and sitting under preaching, and personally reading books or listening to talks they find online.
Inevitably, a diligent Christian will find something in scripture that is directly oppositional to their life and philosophy. At this point, I think the reaction some Christians have is like that of the newlywed who has found a blemish on their spouse. Christians learn about attributes of God such as wrath and feel the need to apologize for Him when describing Him to outsiders. They harbor a certain disdain or disgust for that aspect of God.
But God is Not Like Us
The problem is this, God is not like our spouse, or a home we bought, or anything, for that matter. God is altogether set apart and different from every created thing. He is unblemished. So when you or I find something detestable in God, what we have really discovered is something detestable about ourselves. For our God and Savior, Jesus Christ is completely lovable. That is, there is no spot or blemish about Him.
There is no defect nor imperfection for us to look upon and find wanting. Yet, even as Christians, sometimes we cannot fight the visceral reaction we have to God’s ways. “The God of the OT” has been called genocidal by folks who refuse to submit to Him, in an effort to make him unlovable, so as to justify their sins. And the reason is that God really did kill a lot of people. He killed the firstborn of Egypt, and at the hands of the Israelites, countless battles were fought resulting in death. For many people, these are hard things to read and understand.
For a relatively new Christian who hasn’t had much time for the renewing of the mind, appreciating God and not feeling a need to apologize for him is nearly impossible.
But There is Grace
Thankfully, God is full of grace and He has ordained that His children will be conformed to the image of Christ. For one, this is good news because it means that you and I will each grow to love the Father more and appreciate God for ALL that He does, rather than sit in the place of judge over God. And because God is patient, this process of growing more like Him happens at whatever pace He has chosen. So, be grateful that we are not consumed while we fail to truly appreciate God for all He is.
Be warned, my friend, that grace is never a license to sin. And believe me when I tell you that to doubt God’s goodness is, in fact, sin. Do not apologize for God. When you present the law to people and the reality of God’s wrath, do not say “I’m sorry, but…” rather you ought to proclaim ALL of God’s marvelous attributes and be proud of them. Boast in God, and God alone.
Do not be ashamed of our wonderful God who does all things well. And when you sense yourself sitting in the judgment seat with God on trial, switch seats ASAP. Repent of whatever pride and self-righteousness in YOU finds disgust with what God has done, and be transformed by His Word into a man or woman who truly appreciates ALL of who He is.
Finally, I want you to think about this. We struggle in our weakness and flesh to love God as we ought through trials. People we love, or we ourselves, have been ordained to get cancer, have a miscarriage, be raped, end up divorced, be slandered or gossiped about and suffer all sorts of tribulation appointed by God (1 Peter 4:19).
And yes, God has done things in the Bible which we read about that seem to men to not accord with His love and kindness.
But when you are tempted, dear saint, to question the Lord’s will and deeds, remember that the worst event that ever occurred was the way Jesus Christ was treated (Acts 2:23). When you are tempted to question our Lord’s judgment about *your* circumstances, ask yourself why you are still pleased to trust in Jesus as your substitute if you are so concerned about God’s apparent injustices. Or when you feel the need to be ashamed of things He has done or revealed in the Bible when questioned by a scoffer, remember that He crushed His Only Son for you, that you might be forgiven.
So before you lament that God had the Amalekites killed or slaughtered firstborn children in Egypt, remember that the greatest problem we ever need to solve is how to explain why a perfectly innocent man died. That should be our biggest concern. And if you can explain that, then we can trust the same God with the rest, even when we don’t fully understand.
I loved this perspective, though it humbles me. When my husband nearly died from cancer and a heart attack in 2012, I railed against God, feeling threatened by His sovereignty. Thankfully, He spared my husband, despite my sinful rage against Him. Only His grace will keep me from such selfish anger if He chooses to take my husband before me. Your article is a good reminder for me. Thank you.
You are spot on, Deb. We are all completely dependent upon His grace.
Thankfully, as you know, it is all-sufficient.