When I mention struggling with viewing God as more than Judge, Romans 8:15 is usually the first verse quoted to me. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” The interesting thing is that I don’t dispute the truth and validity of scripture, yet I struggle daily with my identity in Christ.
I remember as a teenager, and even in my twenties, spending countless nights screaming at God. Praying, crying, for things to change or for Him to help me. Many well-intentioned friends told me that it was wrong to scream at God, to get mad at Him, or to question what He was doing. As a result, I spent many years convinced that I had ruined my relationship with God. I had acted wrongly towards Him and, therefore, He would want nothing more to do with me. The other side of that coin was to ask how was I supposed to talk to God. If I couldn’t go to Him with my honest questions and doubts, then how was I to trust Him and relate to Him?
Abba. Recently I listened to the book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore. In chapter three of his book, Moore talks about the “abba” cry mentioned in Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. The “abba cry”, according to Moore, is not the cute little infant cooing “da-da”. This is a primal scream. It is the cry of a child in danger begging, pleading for his/her father to rescue them.
In his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther describes “abba” in this way:
Small as this word is, it says ever so much. It says, “My Father, I am in
great trouble and you seem so far away. But I know I am your child,
because You are my Father for Christ’s sake. I am loved by you because
of the Beloved.”