Toward the end of our last conversation about “What Michael Phelps Needed”, one of our friends raised a question that is too important to be lost at the end of a string of comments. The question comes to us like this:
“Why did God create [Michael Phelps] to be such a great swimmer and give him success and talents and skill and victory and yet deny many others their desires?”
The question continues like this, “I hear pastors speak of “brokenness” and that we need to do God’s will, well here’s a man who God created and is doing his own will which mirrors God’s. God has crowned him with fame, success, skill, gifts, talents, and soon-to-be-wealth and this man is living his dreams.”
At this point the writer adds, “Please don’t bring the potter/clay argument into this. How can God so lavishly bless one person while making the life of a believer a living hell? How can I look at God’s love and favor for this man or someone like King David and not feel He is not loving me as much?
I do NOT think God personally loves me and I am NOT happy with what he has done in my life. Sexual abuse at age 11, broken home, loss of a brother, handicapped child, loss of job and home. God’s will for me is an oppressive weight and I am AFRAID of His next move. I do NOT like God’s plans He made for me. He seems to have created me for a life of extreme pain, sorrow, and loss.
Hooray Michael Phelps honored by God and we KNOW God gave him all of this.”
That’s the question that I found when I woke up this morning and checked for comments that have come in overnight.
One thing that I’ve come to appreciate so much about our ongoing conversations is that any number of you have indicated that you are living with profound and very painful issues that have tested your faith in God.
I believe that together we could agree that one of the best things Job’s three friends did was to come to his side, and sit quietly with him in his tears. But eventually someone had to respond to Job’s grief, questions, and complaints (Job 3). The problem was that in their formulaic, moralistic, and very misguided comments they ended up multiplying the pain of their friend rather than sharing the burden.
We can sense together, can’t we, that this hurting heart does not need a sermon from us. Nor do we want to repeat the mistakes of Job’s friends.
My take is that this hurting heart needs to hear the gentle words of those who have honestly and realistically come to terms with their own pain, discouragement, and disillusionment without losing the faith.