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?