How Are You Interpreting Reality?
The young man was lying on the bathroom floor, in a foreign country; he had passed out and was covered with yuck. He is a beautiful young man, a friend of my sons, a follower of Christ, bright, creative, gifted. He has also known more than his share of strange physical afflictions, and this one—passing out in a sketchy bathroom and hitting his head far too hard on the tile floor thousands of miles from home, on a trip that was supposed to be hopeful and adventurous and maybe even romantic—this brought the cry from his heart. The first thing he said when he came to was, "Why God?!"
The story broke my heart. This young man does not need one more reason to doubt God. And so the story also made me very, very angry. Not at God; not at the young man; at the view of the world he was handed.
"Why God?" reveals a lot.
I think our friend assumes something like this:
The world is a broken but still pretty decent place, and while awful things do happen, for the most part we're going to be okay because God can help us find a life worth living. If he cooperates.
To give you a vivid contrast, Jesus says: "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves" (Matt 10:16). He said this to his dearest friends. I'm sure the illustration was chosen to shake their assumptions, grip them to the core. But since most of us have never lived with sheep nor seen a wolf operate in the wild, let me attempt a translation:
I am sending you out like puppies on a freeway. Or better, like three-year olds into a maximum security prison.
Let it sink in.
Jesus assumes a dangerous world. Not an unpredictable one, but clearly a world in which we find ourselves in a great battle with evil. Oh yes, he assumes God is our ally, but not primarily to help us find a simple life. That's not what is going on here.
My response to our young friend's fall was not, "Why God?," but rather, You bastard. Meaning, my fury at the evil one. It is not a story of abandonment, yet another reason for unbelief, but rather one more clear illustration that this is a world in a brutal war and we must live like it.
Friends, what are the assumptions you are holding about the world, about life? What surprises you? Your convictions will shape your every interpretation of events, and if they are mistaken, they will break your heart and cause you to give up on God, the only person who can help you find your way through.
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