When Life is Hard, Stop and Think

by steve chastain on January 24, 2014

Angry-GodRecently I have started following Mark Driscoll on Facebook and Twitter. Although he is good for a daily dose of SCP fodder, I have no interest in zeroing in on him. However, I would like to make an observation and respond to a recent group of posts surrounding one of his sermons.

 

Driscoll wrote a series of posts in his social media feeds that went like this (edited here for coherence):

When life is hard…

  • God is not punishing you.
  • God is not failing you.
  • God has not abandoned you.
  • God is not acting evil toward you.
  • God will be with you, but he will not answer every question you may have.

In the transcript of this sermon, Driscoll has this to say about trials:

When those seasons come, our emotions tend to be very elevated and escalated. We feel sometimes more clearly than we think.

In the midst of tough times, Driscoll is asking us to think and not feel. I’d say this is good advice. Because if we really think about the five statements above in conjunction with the final three points of the sermon, we have to make tons of logical leaps to accept the fact of what Driscoll calls “a good God”.

Here’s what Driscoll says God says about trials.

  • You are going to get trials.
  • Trials are a test and an opportunity.
  • You will get trials of various kinds.

Think about it. A good loving God allows trials in your life, for a test and an opportunity and he allows all kinds of trials from small to large.

Recall the worst thing that ever happened to you in your life and God allowed that to happen. Why? To test you and give you an opportunity for you “to prove who you are in Christ”. Why? If I am in Christ, and that’s true, what do I have to prove? That I am really in Christ? According to Driscoll God is consistently and constantly sending you all types of trials. It’s all good though because God isn’t doing you any harm, and he’s there for you and he will get you through.

I want you to take Driscoll’s advice and stop feeling for a second. Stop feeling how good it is believing that God is out there and that he loves and cares for you. It makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside knowing that no matter what happens, large or small, God is there to help you through it. This feeling has gotten you through some pretty hard stuff in life – the loss of a parent, the loss of a child, the loss of a marriage. Feeling God’s love and not thinking about God’s love has been pretty valuable.

But stop feeling and think about it. Does it make rational sense that good God would allow trials in your life? Is it right that someone who says they love you can permit difficulties in your life and not have to be accountable for their complicity? It’s a win-win for God all the time. He never has to answer your questions, he gets no blame and gets all the credit no matter what happens in your life. Does that makes sense to you?

If God’s ways are higher than our ways I would argue God has a few things to learn from us. As a parent, I would never treat my children the way he treats his children. Only people trapped in dysfunctional and co-dependent relationships allow such abuse to go on. The reasons they do so is because they love the abuser so much and can’t imagine life without them. Think about it.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shieldsy February 5, 2014 at 9:05 pm

“As a parent, I would never treat my children the way he treats his children.”

Well as a parent of four young children I see the wisdom in God’s methods more clearly than I ever did. Do I ever test my children? Of course I do. Why? Sometimes for my own benefit – to see if they will react the right way or the way I hope/expect. Sometimes for their benefit – to let them see where they need to grow/develop.

In fact just this evening I have tested my child on their spellings. They hated me for doing it … they wanted to be on their game console. They discovered some important things … they need to improve on their spelling; I want them to do well; I want them to learn self-discipline & priorities.

“It’s a win-win for God all the time.”
Isn’t that axiomatic. That’s why He is God! The important thing is that He is a good God, so it’s a win-win situation for good! Surely that’s a good thing. If Obama was omnipotently good wouldn’t the whole nation be pleased if every situation he created was a win-win situation?!

” He never has to answer your questions”
That’s right. Again, it’s axiomatic. He’s God! If you want to construct your own god who is basically just a person/construct who has been created by yourself then I guess they have to be accountable to you. However, if God is GOD, I think it’s remarkable that God has condescended to bring Himself down to our level at all in the person of Jesus Christ. He’s God. Who says He has to do anything at all? As a parent I don’t have to justify my decisions to my children. I choose to sometimes depending upon their ability to comprehend. I am a loving father and one day the decisions I make now I trust my children will see I did in their best interests. However I am also human & fallible. God is not human and His decisions are infallible (axiomatic).

“he gets no blame and gets all the credit no matter what happens in your life”.
He often get’s the blame (frequently by those who proclaim no belief in Him!) just as I occasionally get blamed by my kids for being unfair, cruel, unreasonable (and sometimes I probably am … damned fallibility again). However, the question is whether the blame is justified. I suspect God gets far less of the credit for things than He ought to. If my children do well in their school spelling tests this week I want them to feel the sense of pride & satisfaction that they deserve. However, I think I’d be justified in receiving some of the credit. As I mature and realise how wretched and poor I am, I feel more & more inclined to give God more & more of the glory for accomplishments I once thought were down to me.

“Does that make sense to you?”
Yep. And increasingly so as I learn this things called parenting.

Does that makes sense to you?, he gets no blame and gets all the credit no matter what happens in your life. Does that makes sense to you?

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steve chastain February 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

Hey Shieldsy – Glad to see you around.

Don’t be a stranger.

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