Sunday, February 3, 2013

Angry with God? It's OK! It Really Is...

I wouldn't recommend praying like this! But, I consider it one of the bravest scenes in the history of television (I know you may disagree)!

Any reader of CTW knows that my all time favorite television show is 'The West Wing', which depicts the triumphs and travails of the administration of President Josiah Bartlett. 

This is the scene shows Bartlett in the National Cathedral after the funeral service for his beloved personal secretary, Delores Landingham, who was killed in a car accident. But Bartlett is in a place which, like most of us, is a frustrating admixture of what he has done to himself and what has been done to him: he's concealed an illness from the American public, in order to get elected president; his wife is angry with him, because, contrary to a promise he's made to just serve one term based on that illness, he's seeking a second term; he was almost assassinated and one of his most trusted aides with him; he faces a hostile Congress and a VP (Hoynes, mentioned at the end of the prayer) plotting a run for presidency. 

Yet he's done some good things and he lays those things out before God as he pours out his anger.

Ever been there? Confused? Frustrated? Downright angry with God?

The Bible is replete with servants whose anger and frustration spilled out in prayer. Interestingly enough, God never exacts retribution for their 'impudence'. Rather he leads them into either acceptance, or a renewed trust in His Character.

There are plenty of things that happen to us that we don't understand: the loss of a loved one, illness, or crushing defeats. Sometimes we have fingerprints on those episodes in our lives that remind us that they are really our fault. We don't quite know how to get appropriately angry with ourselves, or others, so we turn our anger toward God. 

I'm not prescribing irreverent profane rants toward God. I am saying that the God of the Bible is able to handle our pain, frustration, even our anger. And I believe that we rob ourselves of a depth of fellowship when we act as if we have to 'mask' how we feel about where we are in this journey from God. 

In the Gospel of John chapter 11, the sisters of a man named Lazarus, a beloved friend of Jesus dies after He fails to show up. The sisters know that Jesus could have healed him. They even sent for Him and He failed to show up in time. 

When He does show up, they both have variations of the same theme: 'If you had been here, our brother would not have died.' Jesus is taken to the grave site and there amidst all the Lazarus mourning, Jesus sheds tears (John 11:35). Bible readers know that this happens moments before Jesus calls Lazarus from his tomb. But it is a lesson to us all, that Jesus doesn't just call us to conform to Him - He identifies with us!

Fred Buechner expressed it like this: 'Where is God when life hurts? He is in us the ones hurting, not in the thing that hurts'. 

We all get disappointed with God. But as another writer has said, 'The alternative to disappointment with God, is disappointment without Him'....

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