Wednesday, October 31, 2012

...indeterminately titled...

Recently I was recommended to read a book called "Disappointment with God." I've read most of the way through it and have had many "oh yeah, that's true" moments. At this point I wish I had made note of them while I was reading it, but because it's from the library I wasn't able to do that so I'm going to go back through & reread the book, highlight the main things that stand out to me through it.

The discussion doesn't really fit the standard view of most Christians. "faith as small as a mustard seed" "fight the good fight" etc. but discusses a prominent issue for many if not all people.

As usual, I'll have the bulk of the post after the jump. Here. We. Go.
The first thing that I noticed is a simple, yet fairly accurate, summation of the process of becoming disappointment. "First comes disappointment, then a seed of doubt, then a response. We begin to question whether God is trustworthy, whether we can really stake out lives on him."
One of the main examples of the book is one a guy named Richard. A guy who had sought God in prayer & in his studies but found that things continued to go wrong in his life. I resonate with the sentiment conveyed in the book. That in a strange way deciding to "just live life," to have it be one's own, causes a new sense of being alive. The doubts & questions which he faced are ones that many people face in life. "When things go wrong, why doesn't God help?" "Does God care?"
As the book goes on it goes through the process of how to deal with the silence of God, the disappointments that happen. Three main questions are stated & discussed.
1. Is God unfair?
2. Is God silent?
3. Is God hidden?
Each of these questions are discussed at length & I will hit on the answers given too.
Another question that sets up the book is whether the expectations of those who are following God are ok or flat wrong?
In attempting to contrast those question the book takes a turn for many chapters of looking into the situation of disappointment from God's perspective. The section that introduces Richard is about a book being published about the book of Job. In gaining clear perspective on how God views us much of the book centers around Job. I will get back to Job a little later.
While I & many people strongly desire for God's forceful & constant presence, the point is made that through the early testimental period Adam, Eve & later the nation of Israel all disobeyed though very intimately involved with God. It's easy & to a measure desirable to think that we could be different today, but it's hard to debate the facts of scripture.
Even the prophets, these men who had committed there lives to God encountered times of drastic doubt & questioning. They followed. That can't be understated. Following regardless of failure & doubt. Regardless of how silent & hidden God seems. Regardless of how unbalanced the equation of fairness is. Following.
It's clearly asserted that the difficulty could/would/was intended for form faith. Not just as simple children, but with maturity of faith. For reference sake, the noted complaints of the prophets are found in Isaiah 45 & 64; Jeremiah 8, 9, 14, 23; Habakkuk 1.
The other thing to take away from the discussion of the prophets is an understanding that God's going to act again in the way that so many call for. Looking at the apocalytic nature of it though will make many of us long for the old days.
One of the most stand out statements from the book was "The stork in the sky knows her season, the ocean tide rolls in on schedule, snow always covers the high mountains, but human beings are like nothing else in nature. God cannot control them. Yet He cannot simply thrust them aside either. HE CANNOT GET HUMANITY OUT OF HIS MIND." (Emphasis added)

Every evidence & example given points to the fact that God has the right be disappointed with us but we do not. With all the negative things that happened to Him, Jesus had the most right of anyone to be disappointed, but during the entire period of His suffering He never once walked away from God or allowed his anguish to fester into doubt.
In the same way, while he was enduring all the attacks of the enemy Job remained faithful.

With a lot of things left that I could say but limited time with the book in my possession I want to try to come up with a conclusion.
It's more natural then most people will admit to have doubts about God. The vital element when doubts come is the response. God wants relationship with us. He wants us to love Him. While God may seem distant at times, short term vision should be resisted. Life get difficult sometimes. While I still don't have it settled, what I'm beginning to understand is that just because God is able of being in control of every aspect of creation He does allow life to go on. He leaves it to our choices.
I understand the rationale of saying that God should be blamed for the inexplicable bad things that happen if He is to be praised for the good things that happen. But life happens. God isn't micromanaging the situation. He helps us. Speaks to us. But allows life to happen. Bad things happen in life, but we need to keep living & learning.