How many times have we heard platitudes purporting ideas about giving your life to Jesus and everything will be better? Looking back over my years of preaching and teaching, I know I said that and taught that very thing frequently. So…someone does that…they give their life to Jesus. They pray the prayer, walk the aisle, bow at the “altar,” and begin to identify themselves as “born again.” That’s all well and good… except for one possible unmet expectation. We often present faith in a sales-type fashion. It’s a product that you need. It’s a deal too good to pass up. Once you have this product, your life will be totally complete, secure, and content. If only that were true… Can we talk about the reality of all of this transparently for just a few moments, please?
As a new believer, I believed that I should never question God. I believed that if I did so it was a lack of faith and I was displeasing Him. I didn’t think I should offer up any challenge to the way things turn out within His sovereign will. If I didn’t understand or like the outcome, I was to smile in the end and praise Him anyway. Perhaps that’s the right thing to do. Perhaps I’m totally wrong for even challenging that ideology. However, I think I would also be wrong if I falsely worshiped with a bad attitude or soul that felt wounded by the One to whom I’ve given it…
The fact is this: I don’t always like what God does, allows, or whatever…and for years I’ve tried to pretend to worship and praise Him even in those times when I’m angry with Him. Yes. I have gotten angry at Him. I’m actually a little angry at Him right now for some circumstances in life. I’ve been dealt a hard blow with an injury I’m recovering from. It’s affected my finances immensely, as well as ability to work enough for sufficient household income. And that was all just stuff I’ve been struggling with. But then, just the other day, a good friend and co-worker unexpectedly died. He was not a saint but was a very real and authentic guy. He was a hard worker and was in great physical shape. For whatever reason, “his time came.”
This is not a rant. Just hear me out. Don’t worry about me if you’re one of those that are well acquainted with me. I just want to be totally transparent for a few minutes. All of these life-stressers were doing just that. They were adding stress. But it has been manageable. Then this last thing happened. To be clear, it didn’t happen to me. It’s got nothing to do with me at all really. He was a good friend. He tried to take care of himself. He showed up for work every day. He helped out whomever he could but he wasn’t the most “righteous.” I went in to work yesterday morning and heard the news. It took me all day to even process it a little bit. I wasn’t sure if I was sad, depressed, or what. Then, this morning, while walking my dog, it hit me. I’m pissed off. I’m furious. I don’t get it. And I know, “His ways are not our ways.” I know that “He has a plan.” BUT I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW.
I tell that story to express something I’m learning. The idea that faith will always make you or me happy is total bull-crap. You may disagree. And I’m okay with that. But that’s where I stand. I don’t think we are giving people a fair picture of what faith is when we present it as something that always keeps us smiling. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we scream. Sometimes we fear. Sometimes we are utterly insecure. That doesn’t take away from the reality of faith. Instead, it makes it more real. The Christian faith isn’t simply an attachment to a set of beliefs. It’s more about knowing Someone. My wife and I have a great relationship. We talk a lot and we often drive each other crazy. We make each other angry. That’s the way a relationship works. It’s not about always being happy-go-lucky. It’s about always being a part of each other.
I may not be in the happiest of places regarding my faith right now. But it doesn’t change the reality of my faith. Through all of this, the one thing that’s never even been a reality is that God wasn’t there. When I’ve questioned Him, it’s often more like someone that’s sitting beside your or across from you that simply doesn’t answer you. It can be maddening, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t with you.
No matter if I agree with Him or not…am happy with His decisions or not…like His plans or not…I am in this relationship for the long haul. It’s not about my happiness. It’s about the journey. It’s about the One I’m travelling with.
*Image used from: https://authenticentertainment.net/2013/07/07/rant-alert-struggling-with-faith-and-belief/