Monday, October 5, 2015

When God is an Asshole

A few weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook about the belief in a benevolent God colliding with the reality of a sick and fallen world. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. Some dear, dear friends are stumbling through the impossibly shitty situation of child abuse within their family-- and it just feels so damn wrong and raw and unjust. These people love Jesus, they have devoted their lives to His service, and "hey, here's your thank you gift-- a giant steaming serving of child abuse!" Freaking CHILD ABUSE.

And you know these people, too. You've met them. Hell, you ARE them:

Maybe it's child abuse.

Maybe it's rape.

Maybe it's infertility.

Maybe it's a natural disaster.

Maybe it's a failed adoption.

Maybe it's a drug addiction.

Maybe it's a car accident that kills your child.

Maybe it's cancer that kills your wife.

Maybe it's infidelity that kills your spirit.

And it's tough, isn't it? When you grow up in a cute little Baptist church, and you kissed dating goodbye, and you saved your pennies for the missionaries on the bulletin board, and wielded your purity ring like a shiny trophy straight from the Lord Jesus Christ directly to your sanctified loins. You have this weird works-based faith, this unspoken rhetoric of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch Yours", this whole twisted idea of repaying God; "You show up for me, I promise I won't go past 2nd base until I am wedded in holy, God-ordained matrimony. And maybe I'll do a puppet show for some orphans in Haiti." God is like your personal life plastic surgeon-- shaving off the parts you don't like and highlighting the parts that you do.

But then your spouse cheats. Your partner dies. Your child is broken by sexual abuse. The baby that you have loved and planned for and was supposed to be yours, is gone. And all of a sudden, it's like the big JC doesn't seem to be holding up His end of the bargain. What happened to our DEAL here, God?!

That's where I am at right now, if I am really honest with you. I see so much brokenness, so much hurt, so much wrongdoing.

Of course I fall back on what I have always been taught: Jesus loves me this I know.

But Jesus...I sorta feel like you're being an asshole right now.

Now hear me- the holiness of God is legit. Scripture admonishes us to fear His name. So I understand why some of you might think I am being too glib here, too casual with the name of the Lord. You're probably right.

But here's the conclusion I have drawn: I think Jesus can take our questions. I think He can take our doubts and our anger and our fear and our accusations and our confusion and our lack of of faith. He's not threatened by our humanity. Our intellect was designed BY HIM, and He is not afraid of it.

I think he sees my rage at this injustice, and I think He gets it. He is far more broken by child abuse and rape and infertility and natural disasters and failed adoptions and drug addiction and car accidents and cancer and infidelity than I am. He weeps for these things. I truly believe He does.

Someone skilled in hermeneutics could argue the theology of this far more clearly and effectively than I ever could. The world is fallen--but it wasn't one single, solitary little stumble that required a band aid and some kisses. The fall is active. The fall is still falling.

And that really, super sucks.

Somewhere along the line, I adopted this precious Western view of the Gospel. Oh, how I love the parts about joy and peace and the ever-present help of God! But I forget that He is not just an ever-present help; He is an ever-present help in trouble. I forget that contrary to what my pretty ideologies attest, Jesus promised that there would be suffering. He promised that we would be HATED because of Him. You'll understand why I would be shocked and offended by this, but it would seem that the purpose of Jesus saving me isn't only to make me beautiful, rich, and comfortable.


The purpose of Jesus saving me is that He would be glorified. And sometimes that glory shines brightest in the fire.

Remember the story from Sunday School about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idols, even after the threat of death. So Nebuchadnezzar infamously throws them into a fiery furnace, to be burned alive. (The Bible- not all love and rainbows, folks.) Remember what they said? "Our God will save us from this fire, but even if He does not, we will never bow to your idol."


This is where I have landed for now. I see all this devastation, the cracks and holes in the people I love, the pain in my own life. And oh, God! I wish You'd save us from this. I wish You would intervene. I wish You would send Your angels and make things right and fix this injustice and pull us out of this fire. I know You could.

But even if You do not.

We have seen the affliction.
We have walked in darkness rather than light.
We have been besieged and surrounded with bitterness and hardship.
We have dwelled in darkness.
We have been weighed down with chains.
Our paths have been crooked and barred with stone.
Our hearts have been pierced.
Our soul is downcast within us.

"Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone."

(Lamentations 3)

I'm Yours, God. I believe that You are good. Even if You do not.

May we suffer well, and may our heartache ever drive us into Your arms, and never away from them.

And sorry about that time I called You an asshole. I'm still trying to figure this all out.


Jess said...

LOVE that phrase "even if He does not" - I've said "And if not - He is still good" many many times....especially lately. The fallen part of our world SUCKS.

Amy said...

This... oh my goodness, this! A thousand times...this.

Denise said...

You seriously made me want to cry......not because I think you are wrong but because I believe you are right. I forget what Brian said during church this week but it made me think of the mother whose daughter was just finishing getting her degree and, while she was so very proud that her daughter stood up and declared she was a believer knowing she would be murdered, she was also overwhelmed by the bitter-sweetness of it all knowing that it cost her daughter.


Susan McRae said...

So transparent and straight from the heart. We need to learn to lament again. We need to remember Immanuel, God with us. God is already always present ... in all things at all times. Google a hymn titled "God Weeps."

Unknown said...

I absolutely LOVE this, you have such a talent, its really awesome how honest, and raw, this isn't just a blog, this is a written piece :-)

Stephanie Grable said...

Job said, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." Habakkuk said that even if the worst happened, "yet I will rejoice in the Lord." My only sister died of cancer on January 7, 2015 at 46 years old leaving behind five children (the youngest 9)...from the depths of my broken heart I have said and will continue to say, "Yet will I hope in Him, yet will I rejoice in the goodness of God, yet will I trust in His heart."

Esther said...

This is the part of Christianity we don't like to talk about. But you are absolutely right - suffering comes to all of us, whether we are believers or not. Somehow we have come to believe that following Christ equals a comfortable, cozy, pain-free life. No, definitely not. The good news is that He is there WITH us when all this crap does come our way. Thank you for your honesty!