Friday, January 14, 2011

Atheists and Anger with God

Interesting article I need to save.

We learn that atheists are frequently "angry" with "God".  There is an irony here because how can you be angry with someone who you say does not exist.  But it sounds true to life.  Human being engage in this oxymoronic thought-process not infrequently.  Homosexuals, of all people, want to be "married", is the other thing that comes to mind.

People who have lost a child doubt God at a rate of 33% in the first year.  Mother's who give birth to a severely retarded child doubt God at a rate of 90%, says the article.

It is understandable.  When Stefan died people asked me:  "How could this happen to you?"  implying that as people well know to be committed to  faith in God we should not be suffering this kind of tragedy.  They are angry at God for us and doubting him also.  Tragedy brings everyone to face the God-question, or as someone else puts it "makes theologians" of us all.  So also does and joy and gratitude.  Somehow you have to deal with it all.  And somehow suddenly God has to be there, whether you believe in him or not.

Stefan's death was not the first tragedy in my life, though the worst, so I think I had some practice bearing such set backs, though his loss and the pain is something that goes on and on, and is distinct from other losses.  Still, we have never been promised that such things won't happen to us.  We have the example of Job.  I am not even going to waste so much breath as he did and not ask for a reason.  What we have is not an explanation but the hope for the future.  Such said even Job already.  (When I see him, I will thank him for that.)

I can't be angry with God.  I have been angry with people; but anger is not a normal response for me.  Maybe it is the lack of testosterone or maybe something else.  I've grown up singing Paul Gerhardt songs, taught to fit myself into situations with a Christian equanimity, to sing through tears and mean it, and I've been mostly given the strength to do so.  I have even found deep joy and grace in trusting while being so needy.  This is really quite supernatural.

The other day on CBC television, in a documentary on the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, a doctor spoke about all the amputations that had to be performed in a hurry, on the street.  He spoke of women who were holding hands while they were both being amputated and the doctor exclaimed even now a year later:  they were singing.  They were singing while being amputated.  After he said that several times, he added-- they were singing songs of faith.

I thought so.

What else is there to sing?

There are not that many choices.  Being mad at a God who does not exist in your mind does not make sense.  Being mad a God who lets this happen makes more sense but does not comfort or help you through it. So be mad, get it out of your system, but only faith will keep you together.

One can be mad at others, and I've done that, but it does not help either.  Only faith will heal those relationships, because each one of us needs forgiveness and God is indeed in charge and has the overview and long-term view.  We can look up and need  not take it out on each other.

There is an amazing photo essay on Haiti here.


Steve Martin said...

Great post, Brigitte!

I have not had to endure such personal loss as you and many others have (not yet, anyway). But with lesser losses I can see the unbeliever at work in myself.

But He does get us through, somehow, and He does give us that hope for the Day when He will dry all our tears and heal all our wounds.

Your insights and faith and the highlighting of the faith of others in times of great trial, are a great inspiration to me and others.

Thanks, very much.

Brigitte said...

You've been so good to me, Steve. It really was significant because it is hard to get good support in these situations. People try hard, they bring you food, eat with with you, cry with you--for some time and then they are all done with that and don't know what else to say or do.

I'd say there are several main stressors: the loss itself, which continues; the sadness of your spouse; the stress people have in facing you and your suffering and resultant turning away; trying to make sense somehow of the rest of your life; the question about what still matters, now that your child is dead.

Anger does not help with any of that, anyhow.