Few things make me happier than powder skiing on a sunny day. When Jesus said he came that we may have life & “life to the full”, I’m not sure he had literal mountain top experiences in mind, but it’s at times like this when it’s easy to worship. But what about the hard times – have you ever been angry with God or wrestled with why he allows bad things to happen? Or maybe you’ve blamed him. I have.
I was brought up in an unbelievably loving Christian family. Mum was a primary school teacher and Dad an outdoor sports instructor. When I was one, Tom was born. Despite being blind, epileptic & severely mentally handicapped (undercooked burger during pregnancy), you wouldn’t find a happier and cuddlier kid! Dad died when I was two, leaving my Mum, a 28 year old widow, to look after me and a disabled baby.
Here’s some free advice: don’t blame God. Don’t be angry with God. Don’t resent God.
This isn’t for His benefit, it’s for YOURS. Pushing God away when life goes wrong is the worst possible, yet one of the most common, decisions. John 14 describes the Holy Spirit as “a comforter”, so why do we distance ourselves when that’s exactly what we need?
Tom died suddenly at the age of 12. Even 17 years on I can remember every moment of that day; the wait on the school steps, the respirator, the “we’ve done all we can”, the pain, bitterness, injustice, anger and grief.
Without delving too far into the theology of suffering, it’s important to note that almost all human suffering is human caused. Fact. War, famine (there’s plenty of food!), living on fault lines/flood plains, in areas with zero agricultural potential are all results of human choices. There are reasons why people don’t move, share, or countries don’t trade with each other, but God is not one of them. He is not to blame.
Tom’s death made me question God, but it wasn’t until I realised that God didn’t cause Tom’s death and therefore wasn’t to blame that I could move on and accept God’s love and comfort. Romans 8:28 says God uses every situation for the good – I can’t tell you how true that is! From the people God put in our lives & the love he poured out on us, to the strength he gave us & the almost inappropriate levels of peace & joy, we were blessed beyond belief. God is good.
Philippians 4:4 says “rejoice in the Lord always, I say that again rejoice!” Roland Baker points out this isn’t a suggestion; it’s a command! Every day we face a choice; we can obsess about life’s hardships, or we can embrace life’s blessings – even if air in our lungs is the only one! Sadly, unanswered prayers are often more visible than answered prayers. An uneventful cycle through London after a “protect me” prayer may be as much of a miracle as an unexplained healing, but we are more likely to question God’s lack of intervention than be thankful for his blessings. Let’s be clear – God doesn’t need me defending him. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. I’m saying this to make you feel gratitude.
One of my bible heroes is Job. When the proverbial was hitting and smothering the fan(!), his response was to get in his knees and worship. “Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering” – it’s a big challenge.
Why am I telling you all this? So you can accept God’s love. Blaming him is the best way of rejecting love. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it’s not just because I have an amazing wife, loving family and cute pet hedgehog. It’s because I’m loved by God and I’ve embraced that love.