During the spring of 2012, John lay in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack as he awaited surgery for colon cancer. Given all the complications because of his disability (he contracted Polio at age six), I had very real fears that he couldn’t survive the operation.
The ordeal took a tremendous toll on my faith, and the idea of praying “Thy will be done” filled me, not with peace, but with indescribable terror and anguish. Since I knew God is sovereign, I felt a sense of impotence when I prayed, as if I beat on His chest of brass, only to bloody my hands from pummeling Him. If He chose to take my husband from me, He would, regardless of how earnestly I might plead with Him.
One morning I vented my rage, screaming so loudly and viciously that I felt my voice lacerate my throat. I assaulted His character, saying blasphemous things as I proudly declared that I hated Him for letting John develop cancer.
The Lord dealt tenderly with me through those next awful weeks, and in His mercy He brought John back to me. But in His holiness, He let me know that He didn’t accept my prideful tirade against Him. As His creation, I had no right to question His decrees. He reminded me that even Job eventually had to repent for his arrogant questioning.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” ~~Job 42:1-6 (ESV)
Popular evangelical thought urges Christians to go ahead and get angry at God, insisting that David did so in the Psalms. Even if David did get angry at Him, he always repented immediately, acknowledging God’s righteousness in every judgment He makes. Scripture simply doesn’t give human beings the prerogative to hold the Lord of all creation accountable for His actions.
This theology that grants us permission to be angry with God demonstrates the narcissism that has polluted evangelical thought over the last 50 years. We habitually treat the thrice holy God as if He exists to serve us, forgetting that He answers our prayers and blesses us as a display of His infinite kindness and generosity. As sinners, we deserve nothing but His wrath, and yet He treats us lovingly and patiently.
I understand the likelihood that the Lord will call John to heaven before He calls me, and I dread that day. But I pray that He will keep me from railing against Him as I did on that shameful morning four years ago. Instead, may He give me a grateful heart to praise Him for lending me this wonderful husband, and for the ways He’s used this marriage to draw me closer to Him.