Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Does God break us?

When we experience pain and suffering in our life is that God working to get our attention? Is it God's way of removing things to insure that we become more dependent on him?
Sometimes we say things like "I am so dense God has to hit me over the head with a two-by-four to get my attention." What we are saying is that the tragedy we are in right now is God's intentional act to get our attention. I grew up believing this.
But is this right? I am not so sure.
Today I want to explore some of the difficulties that I see with this view. In a couple of days I want to explore a different way to view tragedies.

In this belief God is the author of tragedy, loss, suffering and pain. And I am the worker of good.
Think about it. This view believes that God intentionally brings tragedy to help me see him. The tragedy is the work of God.
Now the fact that God had to "hit me with a 2-by-4" indicates that I was not paying attention to him. And the fact that the tragedy is God's action means that my life was going quite well without him. I wasn't experience pain/loss/suffering. Without God I was doing very good - thank you very much. And along comes God and messes it all up. As a good Christian I am suppose to be thankful to God for this.

What seems to happen then is that I seek God in my tragedies. I need his help to get out of them (he should be able to help since he brought it on me). But that is it. My faith dries up when the tragedy is over. I don't need God any more. Oh I may try and pay attention to him in order to avoid getting hit again. But I don't need him. And my relationship with him becomes weaker and weaker as I improve my life.


Peter said...

Hi Ben,

I have been thinking about how to reply to your post. Will give it a try.

So first, "Does God break us?" No and Yes. No God is not the author of tragedy or conflict in our lives as I see it. Sin is the author of tragedy and conflict. Yes though because who is in control, really? The evil one or God?

The flaw I think in your premise comes in both stating the view that God is the author (see above) and I am the worker of good. No, I am not the worker of good. I learn how broken I really am through exposure to tragedy and conflict.

Donald Miller has an interesting view that conflict exists even in the purity of of our pre-sin condition. His example is that of Adam where Adam discovers he is not complete. God does not resolve these feelings for an (apparently) long time. The first thing he tells Adam to do is name all the animals. Then he creates Eve to complete Adam.

My experience has been that God uses conflict and tragedy to draw me into himself, to form in me his character. I think this is what Paul means when he says:

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (MSG)

Look froward to your next post on this topic.

Ben said...

Peter thanks for your comments.
I throw stuff like this up on the blog not because I have the answer but because I am seeking the answer.
You raise some really good points.
Some of these I will engage in the posts I am going to write about tragedy.