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Monday, October 14, 2013

Not That Kind of God

Today I heard something on Family Life Radio that floored me.

It was a radio show intended for children - the scene that was set was a young woman whose mother died, being 'comforted' by a male friend with a goofy voice.

The young woman was wondering why there is so much suffering, and her 'friend' said that, well, if we didn't suffer, we wouldn't know what life was like when it was good.

He used the analogy of coming out of the water after swimming, in a chilly, clammy bathing suit, and then changing into nice cozy warm dry clothes. You wouldn't be able to appreciate the warm clothes unless you'd been uncomfortable before.

Perhaps that works for swimming.

But for someone who lost a parent, that explanation makes as much sense as chopping someone's leg off so that they could fully enjoy a lollipop later.

Losing a parent is a permanent, life-changing scar. To compare it to swimming, and to further turn it into a salutary lesson, is simply obscene.

The God of the New Testament wept at death, even though He knew it would all be set right. He knew that we'd hurt, and that even though the separation wasn't permanent, it would sometimes seem that way to us.

He grieved with us, and didn't try to turn it into a Bible School discussion topic.

Everyone has a bad day, but FLR sure spiked their own end zone on that one.


  1. One of my all-time favorite Bible verses is "Jesus wept," for all those reasons you wrote above.

    Yes, I believe our Lord will turn our sorrows into joy and wipe away every tear from our eyes. I have experienced the wonderful truth in the Biblical promise that, although weeping may endure for the night, JOY comes in the morning. But OH, how long and dark the night can be, in the meantime.

    It's a matter of sensitivity, compassion, and timing. I believe the biggest fault with Job's friends was simply that their timing was way off.

    More than 35 years ago when I was in my 20s, I had cancer. The young Navy doctor who gave me the news was so upset, his hands were literally shaking. He handed me my medical file and I read the pathologist's report which said it appeared that my ccancer had spread to the endocrine system. Although I was young, I knew enough to know that I was reading my death sentence.

    I was going to one of those Name it and Claim it churches at that time. After I got home, I called a friend I'd met in that church, and tearfully told her what the doctor and the pathologist's report had said.

    My friend's immediate response was to chew me out! "WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?" she hotly demanded. "Lynda, I am surprised at you! I thought you were a stronger Christian than this!"

    What I really needed right then was gentle, loving, compassionate empathy, and THEN some prayerful encouragement. I certainly did NOT need to be verbally chastised by my closest friend for my lack of faith!

    As it turned out, I was either miraculously healed, or the pathologist was wrong, because I have been cancer-free since 1979. I am very grateful for this. The best part is that I had a child after my cancer surgery, despite being told by my doctor that this would not be possible.

    Although my story had a happy ending, I do not believe that being jumped on for feeling upset and frightened had anything to do with the positive outcome. My friend's lack of compassion really HURT. In fact, EVERYONE in my life at that time treated me badly, from my then-husband to my personality-disordered mother to the older civilian doctor who belonged to that same church and to whom I went for a second opinion. Everyone of them acted like my cancer was no big deal, and each in their own way put me down for being upset about having cancer. And it was all done in the Name of the Lord.

    This painful episode in my life is just one of the many reasons that I ended up leaving Christianity for several decades. It took me a long time and a lot of growing up to finally understand that the Name it and Claim it doctrine was full of holes, and that Christianity isn't about the "Christians," it's about CHRIST.

    Truly, they will know we are Christians by the love we show to one another. God is love, the most important fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, and God has made us in His image so that we, too, can learn to love as He loves. Weeping with those who weep and grieving with those who grieve is a great way of showing Love. It's the compassionate thing to do, and as the shortest verse in the Bible tells us, it is what our loving Lord did. He wept with those who were mouring the death of their beloved Lazarua... even though Jesus knew that the grief they were feeling was very temporal, because he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead!

    How harsh and unloving would it have been if Christ had jumped all over the mourners for their lack of faith.... and THEN rasied Lazarus out of the grave. You might say that the gift of the miracle of ressurrectioin would outweight the sting of His harsh words in berating the mourners. But the thing about Christ is that He is ALWAYS loving. And the loving thing to do with mourners is to mourn with them.

    When we try to rush the process of grief by denying the reality of pain and sorrow, it's worse than pouring salt in someone's wounds. Not only is that never helpful, it is the opposite of love.

  2. One of life's little coincidences.... my best-friend-husband, a two-tour USMC Vietnam Veteran who rides his Kawasaki with the local American Legion Riders, serves as Chaplain for that group. He got a call today that one of the younger veteran riders lost his mom last night to a heart attack. As my husband was getting ready to send a prayer request out to all the other riders, I said to him: "Wait... before you do that, you might want to read this post." He did, and the prayer request he composed is so beautiful and compassionate, it made me cry.

    1. Lynda, thank you for sharing your story, and describing your husband's prayer request. Would he let you share it?

      I hate it that you ran into people who thought that cancer was no big deal, and I REALLY hate that some idiots told you that you didn't have enough faith. people like this crucify Jesus again, every day.

      And I'm so glad your cancer is gone!

      A serious illness is a big deal. I treat mine as a joke because I can't do anything about it, but I'd just love a miracle about now. Do I have faith that I'll beat it? Sure.

      I'm making plans for a future the doctors don't think I'll see. But I am well aware that God sometimes says No...like He did to His son.

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