Friday, April 5, 2013

Disappointment with God

I have been in a questioning mood over the past five or six months regarding my faith. In truth, I guess that this mood has been a part of me at varying levels ever since I became a Christian. I expressed a bit of my frustration with God in a series of posts that I wrote back in the fall of 2011 entitled "Subtle" (see Subtle - 1 and Subtle - 2).

As I have enjoyed the perspective and style of author Philip Yancey with several of his books that I have read in the past few months, I was eager to dive into a book he wrote nearly 25 years ago entitled Disappointment with God. The book poses three main questions:
  • Is God unfair?
  • Is God silent?
  • Is God hidden?
For me, the first third of the book was set up with remarkable effectiveness. His focussed on several Christians whose once joyous lives had suddenly become train wrecks. Death, disease, ill fortune. One painful ordeal after another. These individuals had two things in common, first they prayed unceasingly for relief. Second, none of their prayers for deliverance were answered. At this point Yancey then turned his attention to the classic biblical saga of Job, a prosperous and Godly man who became part of a wager between God and Satan. God let Satan take Job's 10 children, his vast wealth, and his health and left him broken. This was the point in the book where he had built up to a roaring crescendo. It was here where I had expected Yancey would then help us to see things from a different perspective by planting some seeds of hope and encouragement to strengthen our faith and our resolve. Instead, all he delivered was the usual Christianese pablum regarding God's "mysterious" ways. The result was dishearteningly frustrating.

In my world I would indeed say that God is decidedly hidden and silent. A God that is hidden and silent may therefore not be seen so much as unfair, but as absent, impotent, uncaring, or non-existent. The frustrating thing for me is that the more absent He seems in my life, the more my disappointment grows, and the more my stuttering faith weakens. I don't think any of us necessarily needs a Red Sea parting miracle to be strengthened when life tears us down, just an unmistakeable stirring from the Spirit every once in a while to remind us of who we are.