The Thing I Don’t Like About God

I know a guy, a pretty young guy, who is battling cancer. And the cancer is winning. I know a lot of people who have battled cancer, but something is different about this one particular guy I know, even though I can’t explain what it is. I don’t even really know him well, but I haven’t been able to get him off of my mind the past few weeks. It’s not fair that cancer wins, especially over someone so young. In his fight, every step forward has come with three steps backward, and it sucks. There’s no other way to put it.

My grandma has also been on my mind. She’s about 5 years or so into the debilitating mess of Alzheimers. We’ve watched a woman who was always bright, sharp, funny and loving be stripped of her memory and personality. Who she is now isn’t her. We see the effects of the disease, but it’s not her. Things like Alzheimers shouldn’t exist. I don’t understand why we haven’t figured it out yet. Why haven’t we found a cure? Why hasn’t God given someone the answer?

I know people who have been out of work for a long time. Waiting for answers and open doors. Good people who deserve answers and open doors. It’s so frustrating to see these people I care struggle for so long. It makes me really angry that God hasn’t showed up for them in some way. Why doesn’t He do something for them?

I mean, I know the theological answer. We pastors are expected to have it locked and loaded and ready to give it out at a moment’s notice. (Sinful world, broken mess, life’s not fair, mysterious ways, etc.)

But it still sucks.

Lately I’ve wondered how Mary and Martha felt as they watched their brother Lazarus dying, knowing Jesus was just a few miles away. Knowing He could show up and fix it all. Knowing that a town or two was all that stood between life and death for their beloved brother. And then Jesus showed up, 4 days late.

I’ve wondered how I would have responded. All I can go on is what I know, and that is the fact that praying for answers and getting nothing is frustrating.

That’s what I don’t like about God. I don’t like the mystery. I don’t like the confusion. I can’t stand the waiting. The worst part is the silence. You can probably relate.

There are two things I’ve reminded myself of frequently the past few weeks.

First, trust in God includes trust in His timing. That sounds like something that would make a nice magnet for your refrigerator or something. Cute little slogan…so frustrating, but true. I’m not saying I like it, and I’m not saying you have to like it either, but like it or not, it’s true.

The other thing is that Jesus didn’t rescue Lazarus from the grave; He rescued Lazarus in the grave. Not away from death, but out of death. He didn’t rescue Daniel from the lions’ den; He rescued him in the lions’ den. Jesus didn’t rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace; He rescued them in the fiery furnace.

Jesus often doesn’t deliver us from our circumstances; sometimes He delivers us through them.

And that’s what I can’t stand about God. That’s now how I want it to work. That doesn’t make things any better for the guy I know who has cancer, or for my grandma, or for any of the people I know who need a little hope in a number of circumstances. It’s not that I don’t like God…not at all. It’s that this part of how He works makes me uncomfortable and angry.

The thing is, I don’t think God minds. He knows we can’t stand that sort of thing. It’s counter-intuitive to our human nature. That’s why Jesus talked about faith so much. That’s why He talked about trust so much. And that’s why He went out of His way to make sure we understood that He loves us unconditionally, whether we like the way things work or not. Whether we agree or disagree about the right way to do things.

At the end of the day, it’s a good thing I’m not in charge of the world anyway. And, no offense, but I’m just as happy that you’re not. We would just screw it all up. We’d all wind up being self-serving and everyone else would suffer for it. My right way of doing things is someone else’s wrong way.

This trust issue is something we each have to wrestle with. Trusting God isn’t a switch we flip on. Honestly, God has never given me a reason not to trust Him. Even in the situations that are the most painful, or confusing, or unfair, there’s a purpose I don’t see. Maybe I’ll see it later, or maybe I never will.

Some days I want to yell at God (of course I don’t have any right to do that, but just being honest, some days I want to yell anyway). Some days I want to throw my hands up and stop caring. Some days I’m frustrated because, like Mary and Martha, I know Jesus could show up and fix things and I don’t understand what’s stopping Him.

But the sun came up today, and it will come up tomorrow. So today I choose to trust. I don’t have to, but often that’s all we’ve got.

It feels like I just wrote a long, hopeless post. I’m fighting a temptation to throw some Bible-fortune-cookie-wisdom in here to properly bookend things. But I’m not going to do that, which I guess is sort of the point. There’s hope in the middle of things that seem hopeless because we have a Savior who died to give us hope to hold onto in the worst moments.

4 Comments

  1. Scott May 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Pg 136

    John Lennox was asked by a Jewish woman who had lost her parents to the Nazis, “What does your religion make of this?”

    “I would not insult your memory of your parents by offering you simplistic answers to your question. What is more, i have young children and i cannot even bear to think how i might react if anything were to happen to them, even if it wee far short of the evil that Mengele did. I have no easy answers; but i do have what, for me at least, is a doorway into an answer.

    “What is it?” she said.

    “You know that i am a Christian. That means – and i know it is difficult for you to follow me here – that i believe that Yeshua is the messiah. I also believe that he was God incarnate, come into our world as savior, which is what his name “Yeshua” means. Now i know that this is even more difficult for you to accept. Nevertheless, just think about the question – if Yeshua was really God, as i believe he was, what was God doing on a cross?.”

    “Could it be that God begins just here to meet our heartbreaks, by demonstrating that he dd not remain distant from our human suffering, but became part of it himself? For me, this is the beginning of hope; and it is a living hope that cannot be smashed by the enemy of death. The story does not end in the darkness of the cross. Yeshua conquered death. He rose from the dead; and one day, as the final judge, he will assess everything in absolute fairness, righteousness, and mercy.”

    There was silence. She was still standing, arms outstretched, forming a motionless cross in the doorway. After a moment, with tears in her eyes, very quietly but audibly, she said: “Why has no one ever told me that about my messiah before?”

    From gunning for God

    1. Jimmy May 29, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Great word, Scott. Thanks for sharing that. I love the thought, “The story does not end in the darkness of the cross.” Thank God our stories don’t end in the darkness of our greatest pain, either. I’ll have to check out that book.

      1. Scott May 30, 2015 at 2:51 pm

        Cs lewis a greif observed (pastoral aproach) and problem of pain (logical approach) are great as well

        1. Jimmy June 2, 2015 at 11:02 am

          Yes, definitely. I’ve read both of those. Good stuff!

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