God’s response when your mess is your fault

  1. What We Deserve Is Not What We’ve Received
  2. “It’s Your Own Fault”
  3. How Do We Respond?

Recently, I was getting in my car when a high pitched wail pierced my ears. As I turned to look, I spotted a small pink bike. The bike was splayed in the grass while its companion—a girl in a neon pink helmet—sobbed on the sidewalk, clutching her knee.

From Pixabay.com

As the tears continued, the child’s mother walked nonchalantly toward the scene, repeating one phrase ad nauseum: “It’s your own fault.” Shaking her head in disapproval, the woman told her daughter to stand up. “You did this to yourself,” she reprimanded–picking up the bike (not the child, mind you) and walking toward a house across the street. Her daughter followed, continuing to whimper, even as the woman ignored her pain. “It’s your own fault,” the mom said. “No one cares.”

My heart ached as I drove away, watching the scene fade in my side mirror. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the venomous accusation, “It’s your own fault.” The phrase swirls around in my brain quite often. It jarred me, nonetheless, considering how young the girl was. She couldn’t have been more than four-years-old!

While I contemplated what I had seen, my eyes burned with tears. I sensed the Lord asking: “Do I speak to you like that?”

What We Deserve Is Not What We’ve Received

Here’s the odd thing… I’ve often wanted God to treat me like that—to “just punish me already” so I can cast off the shame that’s anchored like a fixture in my heart. All the while, I know that such a system would never work. Who would decide how I’d be punished? How could I ever pay for all my sins? The list from this week alone is daunting.

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard the venomous accusation, “It’s your own fault.”

Like many of you, I frequently revisit those ugly sin-moments in my mind. So, as I watched this girl and her mother make their way into the garage of their home, I naturally began replaying my own dramatic crash from the week before.

In this dismal scene, I was unfortunately cast as the Emotionally-Unhinged Woman. Well, let’s be honest, I kinda cast myself as the Emotionally-Unhinged Woman. And when the situation had passed, I immediately began berating myself. It felt right; it felt warranted. I’d screwed up, fallen apart, and abandoned all composure. Thus, I was due for punishment. Right?

“It’s Your Own Fault”

That may be what we deserve, but disdain is not the response God has toward His children. I’ve never read of an instance in the Bible where Jesus is talking to an individual who believes in Him and says…

  • “Sorry, I can’t help with that. You did it to yourself.”
  • “That’s pathetic. You knew better.”
  • “I’m embarrassed to be seen with you right now.”
  • “I don’t care.”
  • “I forgot you because you’re kind of a screwup.”

In the process of freeing Mary Magdalene from demonic oppression, Jesus did not stop to find out if Mary had opened the door to demonic activity herself or if it was not her fault. He didn’t turn his back on the woman at the well who was living in sin. Jesus didn’t mock Zaccheaus or ignore the curious criminal who was crucified alongside Him. The Savior loved each of these individuals, just as He loves you and I. Yes, He spoke truth into hypocrisy and He stood for justice. He still does. At the same time, our Savior’s love never hinges on our merit. If it did, what use would the gospel be?

How Do We Respond?

When your pain is a result of your own poor choices, Jesus cares. When you’re making a scene with hysterics, Jesus cares. When every vein in your body is pulsing with self-hatred and disgust, Jesus cares.

Witnessing a small girl crying out for her parent, only to be scolded, hurt my heart. And I wonder, how profoundly it must grieve the Lord when we turn away from Him on the presumption that He will turn from us… that He regrets giving us life.

This realization has been profound for me, particularly during what is proving to be an arduous season of life. I’m daily greeted with a temptation ram my head into a proverbial brick wall under the guise that maybe I’ll break through, but if not, at least I’ll punish myself for the wasted time. But in a finite moment, God revealed to me that He does not expect or desire us to punish what He has already forgiven on the cross.

Me around age four, shortly before learning to ride a two-wheeler.

What then is our response? We cry out to him. We flinch at our neediness even as we glory in His all-sufficiency. When I struggle to do this (aka: hourly), it helps me to think of that little girl who fell off her bike. What she needed was to be gathered into her parent’s arms—swallowed by a love that kneels down to save even when the purple knees and caked blood are of our own doing.

That, my friends, is what Jesus does.



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