by Tammy Phillips
January 29, 2021
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and [toward] men. (Acts 24:16 KJV)
I wrote this difficult letter to my friend who tragically lost her son…
A conscience void of offense toward God. What a mouthful! (Have I ever even read that part of the verse before?). My high and mighty, hypocritical self would say, “Never, God! Never would I be offended by you!” I would be lying to God and to myself. I have to be honest. I have been upset with God. I have been offended by God or rather what I thought God allowed. I have said to Him, “You are God. How did you let this happen? Why did you allow this excruciating pain? Why did you not save this marriage? Why didn’t you heal? Why did you let this baby die? Why did you let my grandfather die of a heart attack; I laid hands on him and begged for his life?” I hate to admit it, but I have asked these questions more than once.
When your baby boy passed at 27, I asked God these questions.
When Trey Erwin, 15, succumbed to cancer in 2012, I asked God about it.
When Collin Kilgore,18, was taken in 2015 in a horrible car accident, I questioned God. When Donnie Everett, 19 drowned in 2016 before the NCAA baseball regional, I questioned.
When my family has suffered and all I could do is pray and endure, I yelled out to God.
Shall I go on? Shall I name the fifteen other children who have tragically died that I know? I do not get it. I do not understand. I never will.
You and I prayed for Brandon. This was not a one and done petition to the throne. I know you visited many more times than I did on behalf of your only son. I believed God for Brandon’s future. I believed God for his protection. I believed God to turn his life around. (Although I know you had your own questions, you have strongly said… “I am thankful for the time we had with him.” What a testimony!) God is big and loves us so much. He can take the questions and love us through it.
I have claimed Acts 24:16 many times to help me not take offense. I am not sure I have ever claimed it in response to God until I had to about Brandon.
I know God can take the questions and He does. It is like when your spouse comes home from a bad day at work and they take their frustrations out on you. The frustration and anger are misplaced. The same is true concerning God. I have learned that He is not to blame. The Word says in John 1:2 (KJV) “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth”. His words in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” He says, “no weapon formed against you may prosper.” We want the best for our children. How much more does God want the best for His kids?
Want to be offended at someone? The first part of John 10:10 states: “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.” The thief is our enemy; be offended by his actions. He leads us to sin and sin, sadly leads to death of relationships, livelihoods and lives. Sin leads to eternal separation from God. However, God sent us Jesus so that we do not have to experience eternal separation from God. We will live forever with Him, when we choose Him. We know that life is but a vapor and death on earth is so painful, but praise God it is not the end game.
I enCOURAGE you to exercise, labor and train to have a clear conscience of offense toward God. He is only worthy of our love, thankfulness and praise. He is after all our Savior, Healer and Deliverer. If you have to be offended, take it out on the enemy and just do good.