Sometimes God really sucks….

not-about-what-we-want

by Kenneth Justice

~ At coffee yesterday I sat with a good Christian friend of mine who was intent on trying to explain the death of my 21 year old cousin. I kept telling him, “I don’t want to hear you justify his death, he was a good kid. Sometimes God sucks, sometimes there aren’t any definitive answers”

If you’ve read any of my articles, you obviously know that deep down inside I don’t truly think “God sucks”. However in recent years I’ve made a commitment to being more authentic; both with myself and toward others. If I’m feeling really pissed off, then I’m going to say as much and if that means saying something that is a tad bit unorthodox or out of the box, then so be it.

I grew up in a Christian culture where everyone was taught to walk on eggshells around other Christians. If other Christians were within earshot and you slipped up and dropped an F-Bomb or said “Sh*T!” when you mistakenly slammed your finger in a car door, there would be hell to pay…Literally. I was silently taught by my Christian leaders that True Christianity was looking like a manikin; walking around as though you’re a plastic person with a fake smile.

By the time most Christian kids reach their teens they realize that the plastic culture of Western Christianity is a joke. More than 60% of children who grow up in Christian homes will eventually abandon the faith altogether, and the other 40% will end up in therapy the rest of their life (okay, I might have exaggerated that second statistic just a tad).

The reality of the situation is that plastic people aren’t fun to be around, and actually, plastic people are a drag. The children of plastic people know the truth; their plastic parents are hypocrites. This is what drives so many children raised in Christian homes away from the faith; they see the unrealistic expectations that are placed upon them and it drives them away.

Perhaps the saddest aspect of plastic people and plastic Christianity is the bible which is adored so much by Western Christians is ANYTHING BUT plastic. The bible is gritty. It is filled with the wailing of the sorrowful and often does not have any answers for those who are hurting.

The Psalmist writes, “O Lord, I cry to you, in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

More often than not, the writers in the bible don’t understand why God ignores their pleas. More often than not, the writers in the bible don’t understand why shi**y things happen. They cry out and bewail their sorrow, they bitch and complain; they yell at God and complain about the injustice that surrounds them.

The bible is a book of comfort to my soul because it does not offer trite little answers. I don’t want a guide book that pretends to have an answer for every situation. I don’t want a book that treats me like a little robot and offers me a prescription for every ailment.

I want something that is gritty and that I can relate with; and the words of scripture are something I’m able to relate, they are soothing verses that bring a measure of comfort to my aching soul.

The bible comforts me because it is a book written by real people; men and women who suffered, who cried, who held their dying children in arms covered in tears. The bible comforts me because it is a real book written by real people who didn’t always have the answers.

If the bible were the fake book that too many Christians pretend it to be; a book that always has the answers and treats me like a manikin, then it would be of no use to me. When I am hurting and sad, I don’t want someone to give me a two hour lecture about “God’s plan”.

Yesterday I read Psalm 88 which offers no joy; it is a Psalm of sorrow and grief. It is a Psalm which cries out at God and complains of God’s silence and injustice. Sometimes that is what we must do; complain, yell, cuss, and cry……nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes there are no clear answers to why certain things happen in this world, like the death of a 21 year old young man who was one of the nicest cousins I’ve ever known.

In Psalm 13 David echo’s his counterpart by crying out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

I can relate to those words because they are real. They are the words of someone who knew sorrow firsthand. They are the words of someone who has known heartbreak. Yet, Psalm 13 is a bit different from 88, because near the end, after an entire Psalm of crying out to God, David adds one simple thing, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord”. It reminds me that the sorrow I feel will eventually pass. While I will never forget the pain and heartbreak of not understanding why shi**y things happen in this world, I’m reminded that there is a time to grieve, but eventually there will come a time to rejoice and move forward.

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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45 replies

  1. This was a very thoughtful post. Sorry to hear of your loss.

    How can we fix this “Western plastic Christianity”? Get people back in touch with the realness, the “grittiness” of the Bible. The agony of Abraham when God asked for his only son.The book that advises: Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more (Prov. 31:6-7).

    In the Bible’s humanity (not the perfect manikin kind, but the real kind), as you say, is where there is real comfort.

    • There is no short answer to your question, a first step though might involve Christians no longer acting as though they know it all, and that they have an answer to every situation

  2. How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
    Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
    Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
    Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds …

    Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
    though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
    though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior. from Habakkuk 1 and 3

  3. i hear what you saying but still i think it’s personal choice when it comes to believing, my mum grew up with her mother and father religious, her 5 siblings religion they where brought up in, my auntie married a guy my uncle who’s job is in a church they been married since they met 18 years old she was shes now in her 60’s, my mum brought up in that background married a guy not religious, my mum had a choice go to church if you want to but my dad was not going to be a hypocrite and start listening to something he doesn’t believe in. fair enough right? my mum and dad have 4 children my mum wants i guess to bring us up how she was brought up with that book my dad waits till i got to school age had alittle understanding and allowed my mum to take me to a church and on to sunday school, it lasted one visit, one sunday has i never did believe that noah put them animals in that wooden arc and sailed it across any sea…..it sunk and that’s the end of that really abit like my sunday school once i visited to say hello, but like yourself i don’t begrudge you your right to speak or practice what you believe in, like my mum she didn’t put her believe onto me neither any of my brothers, its because of religion and what those who think they can push their belief onto people like myself that i sit here damaged! so what caused the war? what caused the northern ireland war? sorry to hear about you’re cousin hey oh will say this i go coffee shops and i don’t care who sits next to me who says hello what their background is they like you are welcome to have a coffee with me

  4. btw my mum and dad married for 30 years till 2002-2003 then divorced 2004

  5. … and that time will not be hastened by any two-hour lecture or trite expression.

    I am glad to start my day with this thoughtful, loving authenticity.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Ah plastic people, I like that very much. I call them the beautiful people, but it’s the same idea. Much of modern Western Christianity seems to have forgotten the value of suffering, what it means to really have God’s favor. People in biblical times would tear their clothing, wear sack cloths and ashes when they were grieving. Today we’re all about positive thinking and self help slogans. I joke about it sometimes, people like to say things like “I have the Lords favor I have a new car and life is good!” Actually if you read the bible, God’s favor generally tends to involve boils and open sores. Ask Job what being a chosen one is like.

  7. “If I’m feeling really pissed off, then I’m going to say as much and if that means saying something that is a tad bit unorthodox or out of the box, then so be it.”

    KJ, I have no words for your pain right now. But here’s to doing away with boxes completely – not just occasionally. Can I make this two in a row? ((hug))

  8. That was good, Kenneth… honest, and with understanding of God’s Word and who He really is… One whose ways are higher than ours, but we know He promises to never leave us or forsake us, and that He will provide ALL that we need. Take some time off, grieve as you will, and make the most of time over the holidays with your kids… they grow up too fast.

  9. Thank you for this beautiful post…

  10. Thank you Ken, for this post. Very real. I’m sorry you had to go through such a hurt. As one who lost a daughter (she was 28 at the time) – I know the pain. Life can really suck. The greatest comfort is that we know a God who watched His son beaten and killed…….. He knows.

    cate b

  11. There maybe no right or wrong, When there is only truth in our hearts. It makes you wonder why we hide behind fake smiles or pretend to be plastic.
    To moan and yell and show your pain is but one thing we can do to an unanswered dilemma or question. But soon as it is out of our system we know. We understand and move forward sharing what we learned. Life is frail and he may not be there for us all the time, I will be as long as i live. each life is a light in the darkness. I just have to shine a little more.

    Amen. i think.

  12. I agree. Sometimes life, and God suck. And sometimes Christians are plastic. I had to put my dog down yesterday, which is still a loss and I need to grieve. (I’m sorry for your cousin’s passing. Good gracious – waaaaay too young..) But while I’m wanting comfort, some Christians are offering me platitudes when they’re meaningless. Platitudes are meant for cards not conversation. God most often comforts me by someone sitting next to me, silent. So, yeah, I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said.

  13. “The feel of not to feel it,
    When there is none to heal it
    Nor numbed sense to steel it.”

    ~Keats~

  14. Kenneth – I loved how you just laid it on the line and spoke your mind!!! Now, the next step is to stop using asterisks on cuss words:) (in a whisper: “We know what you are meaning to say.”) You don’t need them anymore!

    Seriously – (I was) take care and grieve however you need to grieve and take comfort in what comforts you… or not. You – and only you – know how you feel right now.

    When my partner passed away many years ago – one of my best friends, who went through the same thing, said,”it won’t always feel like someone is sticking a needle in your eye.” That helped.

    Take care.
    Rhan

    • Rhan, I’m definitely no stranger to omitting the asterisks in my everyday speech, the only reason I do on the blog is because when I first created the blog, I rated it PG so I only do so to keep my PG rating 🙂

  15. Absolutely- agree completely! I enjoy your posts very much.

  16. So well put Kenneth. I actually mourn for those Christians raised in what I call the “guilt” culture. I feel blessed that I was raised in a different Christian culture that embraces a personal relationship with Christ…none of us are perfect and defining a religion as the Pharisees did (worshipping rules) misses the point of Christianity…the personal relationship is what it is all about…and don’t we get upset with those we have in close relationships…don’t we question with them? I believe God does want that kind of relationship with us…it’s ok to be mad….or to not understand…..at the end of the day, we have someone who is always by our side lifting us up in spite of ourselves…patiently waiting with unconditional love.

  17. I wouldn’t say our God sucks . . . I would say our perceptions of God sucks.

    Why even pretend we can fathom the mysteries of creation when we find reason at the drop of a hat to kill and destroy like we do….

    Mourning is good for us . . . perhaps by doing so we may get a small insight into the state of our planet .

    If God were a physical entity he would be drowning in his own tears when he gets a body count of his children who were mutilated just this last hour . . .

  18. Kenneth, what makes you think that your cousin’s death has anything to do with God?

    I mean, isn’t this a crap world with sparkling intangible treasures below the surface? We deal with all this crap and often we don’t like life, but under it there is beauty, and self-sacrificial love – character – is one of those beautiful things (the thing that defines our God).

    Your cousin must have been full of treasures. Treasures you will carry.

  19. So sorry to hear about your cousin and thanks for putting your thoughts out there – honestly. I too like the bible for what it illustrates rather than tells. It’s not a ‘do as I say or else’ book for sure. You would think then that the plastic people would use the opportunity to bring these wonderful stories to life instead of being manikins … guess it takes all kinds to make up this amazing world that we live in.

  20. I remember when I lost a baby. She never did anything wrong! She wasn’t even born yet!!! What the hell was the point of that?! I don’t want an answer to this question from a human because THEY DON’T KNOW!!!! So haut shut up and let me cry!!!!!

  21. I’m sorry for your loss. My least favorite of the platitudes I receive are “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” and “God has a plan.” I refuse to believe there is a God that actively and purposefully burdens us with hardships that are painful, soul crushing, and unbearable. Sometimes, those things in life just happen. God has nothing to do with it.

  22. I really love the authenticity of this post! Some people lament for “Biblical” time and most of them haven’t read the Bible. Those times were hard and rough. There were few easy answers. I learned later in life the I could go to God not just in thanks but in my weary trials, telling Him I’d had enough, sobbing out loudly and covered in grief and disappointments. No relationship is one sided or enjoyable all of the time. Many pastors would have people think that if they believe and follow the correct religious steps everything in their life will be fine.

    Some things we will never understand. When I’m in pain I don’t want to hear “God’s plan” canned answers. I’m okay knowing I may never know why. God knows my flaws. I don’t have to try and hide them with superficial hypocrisy.

    I have one teenager the believes in God but can’t stand formal “church” because of the hypocrisy in religion today.

  23. Love it Kenneth.
    ” I don’t want a guide book that pretends to have an answer for every situation. I don’t want a book that treats me like a little robot and offers me a prescription for every ailment.”
    –Here here to that.
    Praying for you and your uncle and aunt.

  24. Kenneth – I love your refreshing honest faith… God bless you my online blogging Christian brother!

  25. I’ve been away from wordpress for some months.. I come back and see that one of the bloggers I’ve come to care about is hurting. And I hurt for you 😦 I am so sorry for your loss 😦

  26. All the time.

  27. Reblogged this on peterwaplescrowe and commented:
    I’m not a Christian but I read your blog and it was ok. I believe in the dreamtime and the oneness of the world and interconnectedness. The human race has alot to answer for actually, especially for crimes to this planet we all live on. My friend just says we are all just skinbags that hold our souls. Who knows what it’s all about. I’ve had a blessed life. I appreciate that. Take care xx

  28. God is indeed wonderful but sometimes the thing he does, does not make sense and it’s awful at the same time. But looking back at all those bad things and horrible times.. you know you learned something that made you stronger. Also if not for the sucky moments we sorta forget him.

  29. I can understand where you are coming from. I lost My Dad, Uncle, And Grandma all at the same time in about 4 months. I Never grew up on church and always blamed God for everything bad that happened to me. When I started going to church I realized how stupidly selfish I was. Its not God that does bad. That is something the devil loves to do. He love to make you think that God sucks. When really, its all the devils plan.

    John 10:10 (ESV)
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

  30. I only wish that he Would’ve given me a wife and family that he Gave to so many others.

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