Ask Jim

Question: I have a friend who is bitter against God because of a tragedy she has suffered in her life. She says she can not and does not pray anymore. My own view is that God does not promise all roses in life, but gives enough grace to bear our burdens. I sympathize with my friend, but I do not agree with her attitude.

We lost a seminarian son ten years ago in a plane crash. Hard to understand? Yes. But bitter against God? No. He makes no mistakes. The more we see things in that light, the better we can accept what happens to us. Would you comment, please?

Answer: Your letter contains some extremely important thoughts which I’m certain are shared by many Christians. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on them.

1) There is no way to know who is the author of a specific tragedy—God, Satan, humans, “natural causes.” I do not believe that in all such events it is appropriate to say “God allowed it.” Our logic, our reasoning, our doctrine of the sovereignty of God, Biblical texts, may tempt us to draw that conclusion. But we play God when we do so. Better, I believe, to blame the “broken” world we have produced. God’s sovereignty should be a solid foundation holding us securely in any terrible circumstance, rather than making Him responsible — even indirectly.

2) People are different. When tragedy strikes there can be many responses because of varied temperaments, personalities, and training. Some persons are easy-going, some are easily discouraged; one man may weep, another may become depressed; one woman will respond hysterically, another with quiet despair. A few may handle catastrophes with little loss of equilibrium or even with thoughtful resignation.

Are some responses sinful? Is one way more Christian than another? The reaction that is most destructive would likely be most sinful. But open bitterness, for a time, against God, may be less harmful to anyone than quiet despair that causes ulcers or marital tension. Certainly God can take our bitterness.

In the Christian community, acceptance of each other is vital. This means we should not expect others to have the same emotional reactions to tragedy as we have. Heartaches, too, will heal. They are most likely to heal when fellow Christians, with love and understanding, allow and encourage each other in their individual responses, without judging each other. You have handled, in your own way, the heartbreaking loss of your fine son. Not all can or need to do so in just that manner.

If you have questions about how to apply the principles of Care and Kindness to a specific situation, write to:

Ask Jim
%Care Ministry
Crystal Cathedral
12141 Lewis St
Garden Grove, Ca 92680

or send us an email
and specify that it is for Ask Jim.

Return to Care Capsule Front Page