Did I just say that out loud?
You know, in my opinion there are some things that people just don't talk about in "polite Christian" circles. And if you do talk about these things, sometimes you get judged.
And one of those untouchable subjects is feeling angry at God.
C'mon, if you're totally honest, I'll just bet that you've felt it. But I'll bet you've never mentioned it for fear of incrimination.
From other believers…
…and from God.
(I have that vision of a thunderbolt screaming down from the clouds straight at my head. Poof, I’m gone).
But, in all honesty, I am sorta mad at God right now.
Let me tell you.
There is just too much going on in my life and...
...I can't handle it.
Too much anxiety, too much stress, too many decisions, too much heartache.
Suffice it to say that this year has begun with overwhelming feelings, and a singular inability to sort through it all.
I'm grieving the loss of my father a year ago. It's been especially painful lately, and I am desperately missing his advice and counsel.
I'm watching my mother slip away. I'm watching her struggle to do normal life. And, my siblings and I are trying to make decisions about what's the best next steps to take.
I don't want to go on this journey.
An extended family member is fighting cancer. Another member is facing major surgery to determine if they have cancer or not.
I've got some personal stuff going on, too – (don't we always?).
Sure, I know that God is there…I just can't feel Him real well sometimes.
And so, knowing that He CAN do something about some (all) of these things, and not seeing Him at work, I'm sorta frustrated.
Like one or two things might be manageable, but the word that comes to my mind right now is onslaught.
So here we are.
When faith butts up against reality.
When we know that God is able to fix things, but defers – for some unfathomable reason that we do not know, and want to know, but He chooses not to reveal it. When we are desperate for His presence, but He seems kinda silent and distant.
This is why I'm sorta mad.
Like, "Where ARE You, Lord?"
So I am going to focus on two scenes from Scripture – specifically the two times that Jesus calmed a storm – to see if it's OK to feel this way.
(I have not yet seen a thunderbolt…)
Scene Number One – Jesus Calms A Storm:
English Standard Version (ESV)
Scene Number Two – Jesus Walks on Water:
New Living Translation (NLT)
OK, so I want to break down these two scenes, and relate them to my feelings right now.
I notice right off the bat that Jesus is the one who tells the disciples to get in the boat in order to cross to the other side (knowing full well that there's going to be a big storm). So, like, couldn't Jesus have just "pre-calmed" the storm? Why push them into the middle of it?
Second thing I notice is that the boat is ALREADY filling up with water when the disciples go to Jesus. OK, yeah, there might be the lesson that they're coming to Jesus as a last resort, but in my frame of mind I'm thinking, "Why didn’t HE come to them first?"
Third thing, Jesus is asleep? Really? Sound asleep??
Fourth thing, I'm not thinking that the disciples tapped Jesus on the shoulder politely, or wiggled His tunic gently.
I'm thinking that they most likely shouted at Him. Yes, to be heard over the wind and waves, for sure. But I'm thinking they were probably feeling like I'm feeling right now. Frustrated that Jesus seemed nonchalant and removed from the dire circumstances.
"Hey Jesus, wake up! How can You sleep when we're about to drown here? Don't you care about us? Aren't You going to do something? And honestly, if You really cared about us, why are we having to face this storm in the first place? And why do we have to ask for You to help us? Shouldn’t You just do that anyway?"
In other words, "WHERE ARE YOU???"
I've never noticed this before, but it was Jesus who INSISTED that they cross over ahead of Him, without Him. Again, it was Jesus who sent them, knowing a storm was coming.
Second thing I see is that Jesus is alone praying. That's nice. But, MEANWHILE, the disciples are in terrible straits. They are both far from land, and far from Jesus. He has left them alone to battle the waves.
OK, yes, He does come to them. But He initially comes in a way that they don't recognize Him. His arrival, at first, terrifies them even more. Why does He allow them to experience more terror before He reassures them?
Yes, His words are very comforting.
But Peter still puts Jesus to the test. (I like that about Peter, by the way).
Of course, when he takes his eyes off of Jesus he begins to sink. (And yes, there's another good lesson there). But, though Jesus rescues Peter, He still doesn't immediately calm the storm.
Why didn't He calm the storm as Peter exhibited a huge leap of faith? Couldn't He have rewarded Peter for a brave move? Nope. Jesus let Peter start to sink before He acted.
And the storm wasn't stilled until they got back into the boat.
So, are you reading my undertone here?
A big fat WHY?
Why are we sent into storms? Why doesn't Jesus come to our rescue right away?
Why do we have to cry out to Him as if we have to "remind" Him of our desperation?
Why does He sometimes allow us to experience terror? Why does He let us sink a little bit (or a lot bit) under the waves before He does something?
Which begs the question, too, why are there times when He doesn't seem to deliver us at all?
My difficulty in reconciling this with a good and loving God is at the crux of my dilemma. And it's why I'm sorta mad at God.
Because I want Him to answer this question, and sometimes He just doesn't:
"Lord, why don't You fix what only You can fix?"
(Still no thunderbolt…)
Have you felt this way?
Job did. Joseph did. David did. Elijah did. Jeremiah did.
I think all of the *pillars of faith* – those tried and true heroes of the Bible – I think they all felt these same feelings at one time or another.
And, lo and behold, I believe even Jesus did too.
"Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me." (Mark 14:36, NLT)
Jesus HIMSELF uttered the same words I am crying out. He felt the same feelings I am feeling. He felt overwhelmed, assaulted by an onslaught of *way too much.*
He was pleading for a rescue, for a rescue that He knew God could accomplish.
And yet, God did not rescue Him.
At least in the way that Jesus asked for.
The cup did not pass. The cross still happened. Jesus still had to die.
But, something else happened in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Something calmed Jesus and fortified Him for the storm ahead – and all this happened in the middle of the storm of angst and terror.
And whatever happened, that's what I want, too.
So I wonder.
What was it?
What changed in Jesus so that He was able to face the terrible suffering with a calmness that superseded the fear? What gave Him the courage to face His enemies in serene silence? What strengthened Him and enabled him to bear up under the impossible burdens facing Him?
How did He let go of all the questioning and pleading for God to intervene and fix things?
What did God say to Him?
(Wouldn't you love to have been privy to that conversation?!)
God must have said something that conveyed to Jesus that everything was happening according to plan, and nothing would happen outside of God's purposes.
I'm thinking God must have spoken to Jesus in the most intimate and kind way. A deeply comforting way. A gentle and sympathetic way. A way in which Jesus somehow knew, in the very core of His soul, that His Father loved Him with a deep and enduring love.
And perhaps, in the end, God said the same thing to Jesus that Jesus had said to His own disciples:
"Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
And if those words were enough for Jesus to hear in the middle of His storms, if they were enough to give Him the courage to face His storms, then they are enough for me.
You know what?
I'm not mad anymore – (I never really was, anyway…)
In spite of my feelings, in spite of the onslaught – in the middle of my angst and terror – my personal storm is somehow calmed.
And I am stilled by His presence – even though sometimes I can't feel it – because I know the Truth of it.
He is here.
And me of little faith will cling to Him…
…and walk on water.
I cannot see the mountain,
It doesn't mean
it isn't there.
My help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
DECLARATIONS OF FAITH:
(Job) "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him..." (Job 13:15, NIV)
(Joseph) "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." (Genesis 50:20, NIV)
(David) "O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me." (Psalm 13:1-3, 5-6, NLT)
(Elijah) "Elijah was afraid...he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down...and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, LORD,' he said. 'Take my life...'
'Go out and stand before me on the mountain,' the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." (1 Kings 19:3-4, 11-13, NLT)
(Jeremiah) "I am the one who has seen the afflictions that come from the rod of the LORD's anger. He has led me into darkness, shutting out all light. He has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long...He has besieged and surrounded me with anguish and distress. He has buried me in a dark place...He has walled me in, and I cannot escape. He has bound me in heavy chains. And though I cry and shout, he has shut out my prayers...He has [left] me helpless and devastated...and made me the target for his arrows...deep into my heart.
He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink...Peace has been stripped away...I cry out, 'My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!'...
But I called on your name, LORD, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, 'Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!' Yes, you came when I called; you told me, 'Do not fear.'''
(From Lamentations 3, NLT)
(Jesus) "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." (Luke 22:42, ESV)
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
(Matthew 6:10, ESV)
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last." (Luke 23:46, NIV)
"Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.
Behold, all they who are enraged and inflamed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; they who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you but shall not find them; they who war against you shall be as nothing, as nothing at all.
For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!"
(Isaiah 41:10-13, AMP)
My Grace Provider, even though I admit I'd rather You just take away this pain in my life, I hear You whisper to me that the grace You will provide for me to endure and emerge from this hurt will be all that I need.
--Nancy Guthrie, "The One Year Book of HOPE"
How do you react when God seems far away?
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