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The Difference in God's Anger

In this segment, Kathy Gallagher reflects on God’s character in light of the betrayal of His people. She also encourages wives to learn from this and to imitate the Lord even in difficult marriages. (From Podcast Episode #441 – |Victory| Understanding the Anger of God).

Nate: Kathy, we're talking about some deep things in this show today, and some things that are hard for us to understand. We want to look at God's anger. Part of what makes God angry is when His people betray Him. When you hear Him speak in the Old Testament, especially I think in the book of Hosea, He sounds like a grieving, anguished lover. I want to hear from you about this, because you know what it's like to be betrayed by a person that you gave yourself to.

Kathy: Yes. Speaking of the anger of God is not an easy subject for me. So, I'm going to keep it personal because my anger is different than God's anger. Human anger is very different than God's anger. But I do think at some level we can understand that He's a jilted lover. He has the heart of a jilted lover. As I was thinking about this and praying about it, my thoughts go toward the man. What was it in his heart, before he married her, that drew him to her? And what compelled Him to want to make a covenant with her? It's the covenant. In our modern vernacular we don't talk about covenant. But there was something about that woman that that man wanted to unite himself to. More than anybody else. What happened? What came in that would cause him to betray that? He didn’t just betray her, but also that union, which he had such a desire to have with her.

That was the cry in me when I found out that Steve was being unfaithful. The thing that came out of me was, "You gave yourself to me, and I gave myself to you. We were one. How could you?" That's the cry of the woman's heart because she understands the depth of that union. For some reason, I don't know if it's just in our modern culture or if this has been there since the beginning of time, but men tend to be more willing, I should say, to drift and to wander. And that's not only in marriage, but I think it's spiritually as well. We all wander. I don't want to be misunderstood. We all drift, we all wander. But when it comes to the covenant of marriage, men seem to be more willing to turn away from that because of the lust of the flesh. And that's the bottom line: it's the lust of the flesh.

To put into Biblical terms, and to bring it back more into focus of what God has experienced, His people have committed idolatry: spiritual adultery. They were spiritual harlots and it grieved Him and it broke him. And but His anger didn't lash out. Our anger lashes out right away. Like when I found out what Steve was doing, I had instant anger, instant rage, instant confusion. I was instantly broken. Everything was so instant. With God, it's not really like that. It took a long time for God to get angry to the point of judgment. So that's why I don't like comparing my anger to God's anger because it's pretty quick for me.

Nate: When you read the Old Testament where God sounds hurt, and where he sounds angry because of the betrayal. It sounds like you can kind of grasp something of what he went through.

Kathy: Yes, I think at some level we can. But not completely because He completely gave himself to Israel, and He provided everything they could possibly ever want or need. He gave everything. So the betrayal, as a wife and someone who's been betrayed, I understand that at some level. But not to the depth that God did, because I didn't give everything. My desire for marriage was selfish, also. There was some selfishness in my desire for my husband. It's always a mixed bag. It's never completely pure with us. With God, His devotion to Israel was completely pure and unselfish. So, to have that breach, a continual breach, continual centuries of His people in idolatry and running to other lovers, you get to your breaking point. I understand it in a very human way, but I could never try to pretend like I understand what God went through. I don't know. I can see it in the scriptures. But again, we read the scriptures through very a human viewpoint and it really takes the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to help us to really grasp the depths of not just His love, but His anger.

Nate: Yeah, it's so hard for us to understand the Lord because we're not like Him and we're sinful, like you said. I'd like for you to talk a little more about some sinful reactions that a wife has when she's being betrayed. Can you help explain why those are not accurate pictures of how God is responding when we sin against Him?

Kathy: Okay, there's a list. God isn't full of self-pity. God isn't bitter. God isn't vengeful. He's not jealous in a human way, He doesn't want to pay back. He's not like that. But we are. So, to bring it down to earth into the living room of women that are listening, we can become angry, vengeful, and full of self-pity, self-righteous and have bitterness. Bitterness is such a big deal for women. And I'm not saying it's not understandable. It is very understandable. I get it. I totally get it. The war for us is to fight against that because it's natural to have those reactions. But it's most un-godlike. And you can really measure where you're at by it. I mean this sin coming from our husbands brings out what's in us.

I had a dear lady, an older woman many years ago, I don't know why she did this, but it was so powerful in the moment that she did it. She didn't know me that well. I don't know that she even really knew my testimony very well. But she walked up to me, she wrapped her arms around me and said to me, "The most Godlike characteristic there is is forgiveness." I didn't know that I ever had any real unforgiveness, because I had already dealt with it many years before. But it penetrated my heart so deeply because I knew it was almost like Jesus was wrapping His arms around me and reminding me of how powerful forgiveness is, and what it does to the inward life and the soul of the woman. Because that is the only way that I know of to go through what I went through. If I would not have had the willingness to forgive the unforgivable... And that only came by the Holy Spirit. Because it wasn't in me. Naturally speaking, it's not in any of us.

But the power of forgiveness is power. It is truly powerful. And that is the only way for a woman that does have bitterness raging in her. It's by choosing to keep going back to that Fountain of Life. And it's God who gives us that gift. It comes from him. But He wants us to have it. If I could virtually or verbally wrap my arms around women that are listening who are devastated and tell them the most godlike characteristic there is is forgiveness, I would do that. I am doing that. I just feel that way! That's how you're going to get through this. You have to keep forgiving. That's what God did to us, His enemies. His worst enemies. It's just a very powerful thing.

Nate: Yes, as you are talking, I'm thinking about the contrast between us and God. He is instant and forgiveness and slow and anger, and we're instant in anger and slow to forgiveness.

Kathy: We drag our feet with the forgiveness because we have a list of do's and don't. We have a list of rules. If I forgive him, he'll just do it again. That doesn't negate the responsibility. There's a chapter in my book titled Level Playing Field. I just live here. I can never forget what God has forgiven me of. I don't want to forget what I was. Some people say, "Yeah, the past is in the past." That's fine. I don't live in my past, but I don't want to forget what I was, and what God rescued me from. It keeps the ground level for me with everybody. We're all sinners. And if I ever get to the place where I forget where I came from, then I start looking down my nose. I become critical. I'm judgmental. I can't love people properly when I'm not in the reality of the debt that has been paid for me. And that goes especially for marriage. It helps a lot for a wife to remember what her debt was, how much she was forgiven and what Jesus did for her.

Nate: As you're talking, I'm just reflecting on how important it is for us to daily be in the Word of God. Because it's that place with the Lord where He's speaking to us in clarity. We take for granted how involved the Holy Spirit is in that time, when we're saying, "I want to be in your word, I want to know you." And there is great spiritual clarity about our inside world and about who He is that wouldn't be there if we weren't daily with Him. He's reminding us day by day, "I saved you from this. I'm rich in mercy. I'm slow to anger. I'm all of these things.” I guess I'm just really grateful for God's word as I'm listening to you talk because the Word of God just declares things as they are. And one of the messages over and over in the Word of God is, "Trust me. trust the full revelation of God, as He is.” Is there one specific reaction of God toward the sin of man besides forgiveness that helps you really trust Him?

Kathy: Besides forgiveness, my answer to that is Calvary. Calvary expresses everything about God because Calvary speaks volumes. It's Genesis to Revelation. The heart of God is redemption. That is the remedy for the husband who's in sin and for the wife who will be in sin if she doesn't fully embrace the revelation of forgiveness, of Calvary and of the resurrection. Those things are so absolutely central to our faith and our trust. You know what happens to Christians, I think? I've been a Christian for a long time and you get very familiar with things. The Word becomes familiar. And when you start to think, “I already know that,” And you say, "I've already read that. I've already I've already studied that," you're in trouble because God is becoming dusty to you. You need the Holy Spirit to come in and break up that fallow ground in your heart.

That could be a real reason why some women have such a hard time letting go of the sin of their husbands. It's because God is not a very present help to them. He is, but to them He's not, and their hearts have grown cold. The sin that their husbands committed has created such a callous over their hearts. That's what happens to women. That's why I harp when I have the opportunity. I am constantly harping on the need to forgive, and to let it go, and keep loving, keep serving, keep giving yourself away. God will take care of you. But we look too much to our emotional needs and not so much to our spiritual needs. We think that if we get our emotions straightened out, then our spiritual life will get straightened out. That is just so backwards. It's just not right.

And these are things I have had to learn. I am still learning these things. I don't have it all figured out. I just know though there are some things that are basic to doing this: Calvary, the resurrection, faith and trust. Trusting him no matter what it looks like. You have to put your trust in the Lord, and you have to turn your eyes away from the sin and the sinner. This is an effort. This takes monumental effort. It takes a lot of effort. But if you can start to do that, life will flow back in, because that is your expression of trust: to turn away from what's happening and turn to the Lord. And the Word of God will become more real. It will become more alive. It will speak to you when you're face down. When you're like Mary and not Martha, you will experience Jesus more.

I'm not saying all your problems are going to go away and you're going to feel great. I am not saying that. I'm just saying there's going to be a reality of God that will help get you through this trial. I know that a lot of people are going to hate me for saying this, but the Lord has allowed this. That needs to be looked at. Why did God allow this? It's a very painful thing. But I knew when my world broke apart God was speaking to me, He was after something in me. It was a big deal.

I hope and pray that some of this stuff helps women who are grappling with these things. Because we want a quick and easy psychological answer. If you're a Christian, it's not going to happen that way. A pill isn't going to take it away. A trip to psychotherapy session isn't going to take it away. You can get some temporary band-aids, but nothing but the blood of Christ the forgiveness of sins, the washing of the water of the Word and the renewing of your mind is going to do it. That's what must happen. It's a lifelong journey.

Kathy Gallagher is the Co-Founder and Senior Administrator of Pure Life Ministries. She has been ministering to Christian women for over 20 years and has a deep desire to see them living a fulfilled life in Christ.

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