Wednesday, July 12, 2006

boxing God

I am a huge proponent of honesty, both before God and others. It is a passion of mine, really. I am always encouraging others to come before God with all their emotions, from joy to sadness, confusion to anger. I believe he can handle them. More than that, I believe he desires and welcomes them. Recently, however, I suddenly find that I am the angry one, and I am reminded of how uncomfortable it is (though I stand by my advice).

Shortly after the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis faced a time when he wondered if God was really a sort of "cosmic sadist". “Sooner or later,” he says, “I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, ‘good’? Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite?” (A Grief Observed). I was uncomfortable the first time I read this. I mean, here is this incredible theologian, a man whose writings have become a sort of primer for the basics of Christian belief, and he is questioning whether God is even good?

Yet lately I have understood him in a new way. I find myself newly acquainted with the feeling of wanting to come before God and say, “You set me up! You knew exactly what was going to come of this, offered me no warning, and then just let me wander right into it!” I echo the recent thoughts of a friend: “Where was the protection?!” And now I feel like he has told me to refuse the false fixes, only to leave me without any permanent ones. Had I ignored some early warning, had I blatantly disobeyed…I suppose then I could take such painful consequences in stride. Or perhaps if the situation seemed more like just the suffering that comes with life and less like outright punishment, things might seem a little more fair. But this? I feel like I have been tricked. And to my limited perspective, it just seems mean.

Of course, time begins to bring me (as it did Lewis) slowly but surely back to the solid ground of God’s total goodness. He has taken my anger as it comes, only to respond with the deep truths of his Word. I still feel confused, and still feel like he has led me into a pain that he doesn’t seem to be healing, but I am again tasting the sweetness of his promises. I think of the passionate words spoken by the author of Lamentations: “He has broken my teeth with gravel, he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace, and have forgotten what prosperity is…My soul is downcast within me. 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… The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him.” These words are only a few of many that God has offered in direct response to my questions, even the questions I didn't realize I was asking.

God is good; this is truth. My heart may hurt, but I know it to be true somewhere in the deep places of my soul. He has declared it in his Word. He has proclaimed it throughout history. But more importantly, he has spoken it to me in the most intricate threads of the tapestry of my own life. His goodness, his kindness- his overwhelming love- they are weaving my story. He himself is the one creating in me a heart that loves honesty, so that I can be like him.

At the end of the day, our God, in his goodness, is making me his own. Anger and all.

No comments: