66: God’s Great Bear Hug

66: God’s Great Bear Hug

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

God’s Great Bear Hug

By Karen C. Talcott

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

~Ephesians 4:31-32

“God, how could you be so cruel?” I yelled into the air. “Do you really care about me or is this religion stuff all just a hoax?”

I waited for an answer, a sign that God had heard me and was there to comfort me. But the only thing I felt around me was my pain and heartache. The funeral for my mother was still too fresh in my mind to ponder.

Sitting alone in my apartment, my mind replayed the past few years. First, my father had been stricken with cancer. He fought a valiant fight, but he only survived eight months after his diagnosis. Soon afterward, my mother received the news that her breast cancer had recurred. She too didn’t take this dreaded disease lying down, but the end results were the same. The two people I needed, cherished, and loved most in the world were suddenly stripped from my life, and I was left alone. It seemed cruel, and I wasn’t afraid to rage at God for my loss.

I sat there for a long time in the darkness. Nothing in my life made sense anymore. Over time, the anger slowly seeped out of me, but numbness took its place. I decided that I didn’t want to be in a relationship with God. I stopped all my church activities and found things to do on Sunday mornings. I slept in, read the paper, and even went to breakfast. Filling my life with these activities dampened the pain, and I thought life was slowly returning to normal.

But, to my surprise, I woke one Sunday morning with a feeling of unease. Pacing around my apartment, an inner battle began to rage. Did I want to keep living my life like this or was it time to return to God? Still without a clear heavenly answer, I decided to attend the morning church service. I was now running late, which suited me fine as I slipped into the back row unnoticed. As I sat through the service, my heart began to thaw just a little. It wasn’t a huge, noticeable shift, but for the first time in many months I didn’t feel so angry.

Returning to my apartment, my heart and mind were at war. I was torn between holding onto my grudge with God or letting it go and starting fresh.

“God, can you take on a battered Christian?” I asked. “Do you really want me back after I blamed you for the deaths of my parents?”

There was silence for a moment, but then almost like a movie was being played out in my head, I saw a father throw everything aside as he ran toward his wayward son. He pulled him into a tight bear hug, and they stood embracing for a long time. The father whispered something into his son’s ear, and a deep look of understanding passed between them.

The scene disappeared from my vision, but I knew this prodigal son message was heaven-sent. My bitterness was forgiven, and my true Father was welcoming me back. So I did the only thing I knew how — I put my arms around my Father and simply hugged Him back.

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