Friday, December 9, 2011

Mad at God? Read this


If you have ever been mad at God, you are in good company. Most honest believers will admit that God has seemed--at times--distant, uncaring, unhearing, unjust or simply slow to react.

Given our human nature, it is understandable that these perceived shortcomings of the Divine One might outshine the things we are thankful to Him for.

We all know of Mark Twain. Born Samuel Clemens, he is the well-known author/creator of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. What is not as well known about this famous humorist is how he felt that the Almighty had utterly failed him. After he buried his son, two daughters and his beloved wife, he wrote the following:

“...a God who could make good children as easily a bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave is angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell--mouths mercy, and invented hell--mouths Golden Rules and foregiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!”

--Mark Twain, No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

“The best minds will tell you that when a man has begotten a child he is morally bound to tenderly care for it, protect it from hurt, shield it from disease, clothe it, feed it, bear with its waywardness, lay no hand upon it save in kindness and for its own good, and never in any case inflict upon it a wanton cruelty. God's treatment of his earthly children, every day and every night, is the exact opposite of all that, yet those best minds warmly justify these crimes, condone them, excuse them, and indignantly refuse to regard them as crimes at all, when he commits them. ”

-- Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth

Twain’s concern is not complicated. He reasoned that God could make the world a happy, loving place without hunger, disease and death. Twain then rails at the Lord for His utter failure to do so. We all agree that we, like him, see our world darkened too often by famine, pestilence, pain, suffering and death.

None of us would dare to address the deeply personal pain and loss that this man bore. Darwin buried a daughter too early, as did Descartes. All three of them turned against the Lord. None of us know how we might react. However, when he took on the very character of God, Twain missed a critical fact.

The God of Scripture did—in fact—create the very world Twain imagined
He should have!

In the beginning, we are told there was a perfect environment, with plenty to eat, and no sickness, striving, suffering or death. That is not just a Sunday School story, it is history. The Fall of sinful man ushered in the age of struggle, sickness and our own mortality.

The truly remarkable thing is that a Holy God, so rejected by his children, would sacrifice his Only Son to rescue them from the results of their own sin. That, actually, explains why we celebrate that baby in the manger, and His atoning death on the cross. Jesus came to undo what we did. You can spend your life being angry with God, if you wish--much like a spoiled child who rebels against a loving parent, who has provided sacrificially for him.

But God made a Way for you to come home to Him. This Christmas, before you read the Christmas story that solves the sin and death problem, please read Genesis 1-3, so you will know what the sin and death problem actually was. Who knows what would have been different in the lives of those three men who buried children too early, if they had. As they are all long dead, they know the Truth. If you are reading this, there is still time for you.