Sitting in the recliner with a hospital gown draped on each side of his body sat a middle-aged Christian waiting for a Chaplain visit. He was happy I arrived and began to express his journey to believing in great detail. At the end of his upbeat tale, I asked him what led him to the hospital. He proceed to tell me his story, which was pretty trying for anyone. A wife diagnosed with a long-term illness and after many years trying to manger her care at home he finally placed her in a Nursing Home, which was finically crushing him; after years of already being crushed by her medical bills. They had no children and so he was now alone. His parents were gone, her father was alive but also in a Nursing Home and most of the time didn’t understand why his daughter never visited. On top of this, the man had recently lost his job and was in the middle of selling his house. Deciding to find a hope for his dog was the finally straw and he ended up having a heart attack and was now here at the hospital. In tears he told me his story, but the funny thing was this wasn’t the same man who just told me about this beautiful relationship with a God that provides and offers blessings to those who believe. So I asked him about this clear divide and his response hit me to my core. “Oh I can’t be mad at God for any of that, or God will abandon me.”
My God is certainly not a God that abandon’s anyone! We do a good job of abandoning God as humans, but seriously where did this guy get this philosophy. Surprisingly from Church; was the church teaching this or was this the man’s own interpretation I’ll never know, but to come away from Church with this kind of view was pretty heart breaking to me.
A relationship with the Holy, is like of that found in Eden – intimate. God knows our thoughts, our plans, us at our worst and at our best. God knows. And so we are called to in relationship with God lift up all our burdens. Moses when in the dessert with the Israelites yells to God (numbers 11) something like: “you stuck me with this people, called me to do this and this is what I have to put up with. I am at my wits’ end! Do something!” God does not just abandon Moses, he gives him 70 men to help shoulder the burden.
When we teach reward – consequences in our ministry, or that only those who are righteous are reward then we get into a very bad pattern of allowing good people, who are going through bad things to feel abandon by God. This man was essentially “hiding” his worries from God and not lifting up his burden’s in prayer all because he thought that if he did, worse would happen. All because he thought he wasn’t living a thankful enough life or doing everything right when it came to praying and devotionals. If only he prayed more, read more or studied harder then he would be able to see what he was doing ‘wrong’ and make it right.
God doesn’t magically fix problems, but God can provide the tools needed for you to get through your problems. Perhaps if this gentlemen was seeking God’s strength instead of avoiding God’s wrath he wouldn’t have had a heart attack. He wouldn’t have kept all that in with presenting the face of happiness. Let us all see if we can find a way to be real with God.