I’m not the only one working out my salvation with fear and trembling. Today’s post comes from P_Heir, a long time friend and co-laborer in ministry. We served on the same worship team for years. So many of our experiences intersect each other. He’s putting his pieces back together too. It’s an honor to have him share some of his story.
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I’m a preacher’s kid. PKs are trained to look as if they have it all together. “Grin and bear it.” “Fake it ‘til you make it.” But I lost my ability to smile as if everything is okay. While in the midst of planning one funeral, I found out I lost a dear friend. A day later, my father dropped dead of a heart attack. After getting that news, I had just enough strength to have this discourse with God:
“Why would you do this? My whole life is yours… I’m on your team! You’re foul! You murdered my father. Murderer! What kind of compassionate God would make a person endure three deaths in one week?”
No bolts fell from the sky, but when you call God a murderer, it’s safe to say you are upset with Him. Here’s my dilemma. I’m completely aware I fall short of His glory daily. Okay, okay… hourly. But what do you do when you feel God has fallen short?
From a distance
At first, I tried to ignore this breach in our relationship. I’m used to being in intimate proximity to the King, but I asked for a break. “I’ll come to church. I’ll sing along during worship. I’ll listen to the sermon. I’m here… but this heart of mine is off limits.“
When David asked “where can I go from your presence,” I’m sure he didn’t mean it the way I did. “God, could you give me some space? Not enough space that you can’t catch me if I fall. Just some breathing room.” Isn’t that just like a human? He’s everywhere, but… how do you take a break from God without Him taking a break from you?
Mad about you
My college pastor taught me that anger is a secondary emotion. When angry, generally there is underlying resentment, disappointment, or hurt. If you deal with the primary emotion, the anger will go away. I thought it was a “passive emotion,” so I ignored it.
“Anger is not a passive helplessness or hopelessness… It is not flight, but fight… Without this capacity for anger or even rage, we would be unable to defend ourselves or those we love when needed… We would be unable to face down evil, leaving us even more vulnerable to it.”
—Dr. Stephen Diamond
I’m not used to operating in anger. It opposes my natural demeanor. So I did everything in my power to subdue it. But months later as I stood at my father’s grave, my fury was reignited in me. I never really acknowledged how I felt about God’s decision to take my father.
Not everyone was able to understand or tolerate my anger with God. But through this process, the Holy Spirit told me, “Be angry, but sin not. Turn over tables. Disclose your displeasure. But don’t forget I am God.” Grieving taught me that anger is more like a smoke alarm. It lets you know something is wrong.
As for me, I have given myself permission to be angry. I can’t say I haven’t sinned in the process, but I haven’t lost faith in God. I believe faith initiated my dilemma. I had faith that God could’ve healed my father and Robin. His choice not to annoys me. My version of Psalms 115:3 is “our Father in heaven does whatever the hell He pleases.” I guess that’s the right of a Sovereign God.
P_Heir’s story isn’t uncommon. When tragedy befalls the faithful it can send you into a tailspin, having more questions than answers. I know that was the case for me.
2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” So even in taking breaks and being angry, God doesn’t disown us, but still considers us a part of him. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” So disappointments in life are guaranteed.
What do you do when you feel God has fallen short?
- In Case of Fire (junkyardsalvation.com)
- On Fathers’ Day: “I Had a King Once” (junkyardsalvation.com)
- In Memory of Robin Hill (junkyardsalvation.com)
- Worship, Unconscious (junkyardsalvation.com)
Lament. We don’t practice the art of this in an organizational setting so we often get the message that it isn’t OK. For some reason we ignore the Psalms, the book of Job, and the book of Lamentations. He can handle anything I throw at him, including my disappointment. I don’t really like this process but it seems necessary and we seem to be wired for it as we all seem to have these seasons. They evidently have a purpose. Thanks for sharing this.
Been here, only I did not feel like I had to give myself permission to be angry with God I just did it. After a while I started to ask myself, “I am supposed to be THIS mad with God?” I got that it was ok to be angry but I had a hard time with the “sin not” part. In my natural relationships, when I was angry I sinned. The difficulty was separating my natural relationships from my spiritual relationship with God.What a task that was…
I sulk, curse and play hooky from life, mainly the part of life that involves Christians, and bible verses, and whatnot. But when I do that, God finds some way to be like that crazy mama with seven or eight senses that always catches you being bad. I eventually get too lazy to keep running, so I just say, “Whatever, man” in my best Sanaa Lathan voice.
Wow. I’ve felt this in my own life too many times to count. What’s ironic is that I (we) tend to feel the disappointment more when God, to me, fails to show up when I figure I need him. However, what I, and we, need to remember is that, He is STILL God. No matter we feel about anything, His sovereignty is one of the many things that set Him apart. Remember that, and while we are feeling disappointed in Him, He still will love us through it all.
Wow. I’ve been in this place many times in my life; too many to really count. Even when we don’t understand the why, He is still God and in control. We get disappointed because God isn’t doing what we want.
My question is, if we get like this on such infinitesimal things, how much more disappointed is He in us when we don’t do what He asks?
He can do whatever the hell he wants. And no one can protect us. That’s comforting
I sense sarcasm. 🙂 Can you expound a bit more on where you’re coming from?
Somestimes in my disappointments with the HEAVENLY FATHER, I think he is austere and like a drill seargant insensitive to letting us down. Then I draw Jesus into the picture and ask him to intervene on my behalf because he was a human being at one time. Therefore he understands pain much better than Father God.
The worst one for me is when heaven remains silent after praying, fasting seeking God for a definite way forward etc.for months. it just drives me crazy…….
God cannot do whatever the hell He wants! God cannot lie, God cannot tempt anyone to do evil. God cannot save someone against their will. There are numerous things God cannot do. Then, what can God do? This is where we have to study the Bible, like a lawyer. We look at the Bible as the guideline by which we can win our case in a court of law. We present our case (our prayer), along with the scripture verses that support our case, before the judge (God), and since the judge must support the law, we can win or lose our case, based on the evidence we bring before the court. The Word of God becomes the witnesses we bring to court to win our case. That is what the Bible means when it says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a thing be established.” There is much more involved in this spiritual warfare than just asking God for whatever we want. It is a battle God wants us to win, but we have to do the fighting. Faith without works is dead.