Genie or God?
Who is He
God, if you help me out of this situation, I'll go to church. I promise I'll straighten up my life. Have you ever prayed a prayer like that? One that comes from desperation? Lot's of us have, when life get's overwhelming and we feel that our backs are against the wall, we'll do anything to get out of it. And often times, that anything includes making promises that we either can't keep or simply have no intentions on keeping. Or "forget" about keeping. One reason that I believe people tend to stay away from God or the concept of Him is because of their expectations of Him and Who He is. Before we get into Who He is, let's go over Who He isn't.
God is not a genie or wizard, He is not a spell or fairy dust that we add to our lives to make them pain proof. And that's where a lot of the disgust towards God comes from. A lot of arguments between Christ followers and non followers usually involve the NF (I'm abbreviating non-follower because I'm too lazy to continually spell it out) saying "Well, if God is so good and kind then why does suffering still occur? Why are there still poor people?" et cetera, et cetera. According to popular misconception, if the God the Christians proclaim is real and just and all-loving, there should be no more pain and suffering in the world. Now, what's interesting is that I can totally understand that thought process.
Boooooooo! Hissssssss! That was my imitation of those of us followers who have yet to allow God to mature our understanding lol (can I put LOL in a blog post??). Hear me out. So the reason that I believe is the cause of many people--including followers-- with this perception of God as being a fairy godmother, is because followers have portrayed God as being a fairy godmother. Allow me to explain. When things go wrong, for many Christians, we believe in praying (which is absolutely biblical). But sometimes our prayers do not match up with biblical teachings and when our expectations of having every trouble and pain taken from our lives is not met, well, that's when the disappointment sets in. And we start to doubt the powers of this supposed genie. According to some NFs, if God exists then evil wouldn't or shouldn't and since it does then God doesn't.
God is not the absence of evil, He is the power to overcome it. Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble but He doesn't end it there. He goes on to encourage us to take heart because He has overcome the world. But what does that mean? There is still pain and suffering in the world so how did He overcome it? True, pain and suffering do still exist and are very prevalent. When Jesus proclaimed that He has overcome the world, He wasn't stating that He has taken away all evil and hurt from the world, He is stating that He is greater than it. Greater than the hurt and evil of this world. God is not promising a painless life the way some have taught. What He is promising is that when we are faced with calamities and trials, we can overcome them because He has overcome the world. Nothing is greater than He.
As long as we live in such a broken, sin filled world, the evil and hurt and pain it brings will continue. But God will also continue to heal and restore and bring peace. Even as followers, it can be hard to accept that God is indeed sovereign despite all the mess in the world.
In 2010, I had one of the worst experiences of my life. So I had returned from the mall with my mom and was getting ready for bed. Throughout the night, I suffered from extremely excruciating abdominal pain. I was throwing up and having diarrhea couldn't walk to the bathroom, I literally had to crawl. The next morning, I told my mother what was going on and she took me to the ER. They did a few tests and told us that I had acute appendicitis and that I needed emergency surgery because my appendix was gangrenous and that if my mother had waited another day to bring me in, it would've been too late. Wow. That's the condensed version. They performed the surgery and removed the decayed organ.
That time in my life was one I will never forget. It was a huge, ginormous blow to my beliefs of my God and Who I thought He was. I didn't doubt His goodness or love for me but... I couldn't make sense of why I had come so close to death and experienced what I consider to be horror at that hospital if God was protecting me and if I belonged to Him. Honestly, that incident shook me a bit. A lot, actually. A whole lot. I just couldn't fathom it but I never shared with anyone that I was struggling so much with what I went through in light of God's reality. And for a while, I was afraid of God or afraid of being too close to Him. A lot of times when God uses a person to show His love to others and bring change in their lives, Satan (who will get a few posts dedicated to him later) will attack that person and bring about many distractions because they pose a threat to his kingdom.
And because of that, I was terrified that I was on the Devil's radar. And that he nearly killed me, although it wasn't the first time. I knew that the closer I got to God, the more persistent the Devil would come after me, the way he does to all those who follow Jesus. I expected to be attacked and to face trials sure, but that appendicitis came out of nowhere. And it almost killed me. Why didn't God prevent me from getting sick with that? That is the question that I wrestled with for a long time until I realized that life happens to everyone. God is not one of those iPhone Lifeproof cases that I can just put on and be shielded from all the water and dirt and grit. Life will happen to me just as it happens to anyone else, albeit it will not overcome me in the same ways that it may overcome NFs but I will experience the harsh side of life.
I am not a Christian who happens to be human, I am a human who happens be Christian. All of the struggles and hardships that I go through and have gone through, God will use for good and to bring about healing and hope to someone else. Am I saying that God brought hardships upon me and that He will do so to teach me or someone else? Absolutely not. Pain will come but God does not supply it. What He does supply is strength and hope and peace; He is the way out. And when He is bringing us through (not placing us in) the storms we will have thrown at us by the world, He will use or manipulate the situation to the point where once we have overcome it or even in the midst of going through it, He can turn it around to bless someone else, ourselves and even use us as a huge conduit of deliverance for others in similar situations. Am I glad that I have experienced such suffering and pain in my life? Heck no! But I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity for God to use it to release others from their pains and anguish similar to mine.
And that's what God does, He takes our struggles and turns them into strengths and uses us in the lives of others who are going through what we have overcome. That's Who God is.