Know anyone angry with God? They refuse to be a part of the church and refuse to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because they can't conceive of how a God of love could allow for such suffering and pain?
In times like that, as a pastor, I've found myself feeling like I had to defend God and explain God.
What I now realize is that in my attempts to be "pastoral" and understanding I wasn't helping at all.
First, God doesn't need me or anyone to defend Him. God is a big enough God to do that all by Himself.
Secondly, the more poignant question is, how can you say that there is no God when you're so angry with God? If there is no God, who are you angry with? And if there is no God, then what is the meaning of suffering and pain? What is the meaning and purpose of life?
If there is no God, it really does lead to an existential hell. Everything is meaningless. Everything is senseless. There is no rhyme or reason to anything. There is no dignity, no purpose, no meaning to suffering and pain. You just suffer miserably and then you die.
What a depressing view of life!
I've been talking with a guy who's been angry with God but is no longer that way. I asked him what made the difference? How did he go from being angry to being open to the ways of God. And what he told me makes so much sense.
This man had been so angry with God that he'd rejected God. Because there was so much suffering and pain, he could not see how there could be a God of love who would allow such things to happen. So he'd intentionally rejected God. By not going to church and not doing church things, it was as if he was flipping God the bird. He didn't want to just not believe, he wanted God to know that he outright rejected him.
But rejecting God did nothing to alleviate his anger. He was still angry. And what's worse, it did nothing to alleviate the pain or the suffering. It was all meaningless. And he'd live this way for more than a decade.
And then it dawned on him - how can I be angry with someone I don't believe exists? If God doesn't exist, then how can I be angry with Him? And if I am angry with God, then God must exist. And if God exists, then I need to come to terms with this God because there's got to be a purpose and meaning to life.
That's it! It's by turning to God with our questions and with our pain that we can begin making our way out of the fog of pain and anger. It's precisely when we let go of our right to blame God that we can start seeking wisdom and answer from God.
It's not that when we accept God the suffering and pain goes away. It's just that when we turn to God, God gives us dignity and purpose even in the midst of the suffering and pain.
It's not that suffering and pain disappears. It's that God gives us the strength and the vision to see that suffering and pain will never get the final say.
That is the reason why the Apostle Paul could be sitting in a prison waiting to be beheaded and write in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!" He knew that death was not the end, that this earthly existence is not the end, that he was a citizen of heaven. And because he was a child of eternity, there was nothing that death could take from him. It's this heavenly and Godly perspective which gave meaning and purpose to his imprisonment and his eventual death. Death could not even take that away from him.
And this is why Jesus and Christmas is such great news for all of us. We don't belong here. We are merely passing through. And when we live for our eternal home, it gives us great meaning and purpose for life on earth.