In the tough times, pat answers don't work very well--either profferred or received--and the general tone of the Bible is that God and the other characters in there don't like them much more than I do. There are also lots of people in the Bible who got kind of upset at God about some things, and at some point in my life I began to feel that it was okay to do this, and so I did. Fairly often. Sometimes on behalf of other people, though usually, I confess, when things weren't going the way I wanted them to go for me.
Somewhere along this line of processing, I kind of lost the concept of the sovereignty of God. If you had asked me if I believed in it (and sometimes the Item does), I would have said yes, but I preferred to emphasise free will, because it's hard to get over some of the tough stuff when you think God made it happen, and didn't just allow it. I'd rather blame people, and human sin's infecting and breaking the world.
Well, I do think sin is the ultimate problem, and I do think there truly is human free will, even though I don't know how it fits into all this, but during the last few weeks, as I've been dealing with the latest stressors and reading through the lectionary and listening to the sermons, I've been thinking I should just go back to trusting God's sovereignty.
It's kind of hard and scary to trust, when you see that He, in His sovereignty, allows or even makes bad things happen. I still want to say He doesn't make them happen, but that's scary, too, because it implies He's disconnected, and I don't believe that, either.
Pat answers, it seems to me, are dishonest. But lately I've been thinking that sometimes my doubt is a little dishonest, too. Sometimes I doubt just for the sake of doubting; I feel simultaneously edgy and trendy. I'm kind of wondering, these days, if part of the exercises in frustration I've been going through lately are on purpose. I wonder if God is sending them so I can stop getting so all-in-a-wad about life. God doesn't always exact a reversal in circumstances. But sometimes He does, and if He's going to, I don't want to be whinging so much that I don't notice. I don't want to be surrounded by miracles and leave them standing out in the street. And if He doesn't reverse things, I don't want to miss out on what He's going to do instead.
I reckon it takes equal strength and obstinance to trust or to doubt. Lately it has occurred to me that all this doubting is making me tired, and also not very healthy. I've read lots of books on apologetics that satisfy my intellect at the time, but I know plenty of people who don't find that sort of arguments satisfying at all. I don't retain apologetic arguments well. Then there are experiences. My modus operandi of the last few years has been to see negative experiences as arguments against the Christian God, in the face of which I struggle with great fortitude to believe.
I don't think faith will ever be just a walk in the park for me (though it does often involve walking). I do think there's a point where eventually you realise that there are good logical and emotional arguments on either side of the faith issue, and you just have to come down on one. But I already know which side I come down on. It is almost, sometimes, like I don't, er, have a choice. So, if I'm going to be a follower of Jesus, it would probably be a lot pleasanter for both of us (not to mention all-y'all) if I spent some of my obstinance trying to see and bring about the glory God intends to come through the hard times, rather than getting distraught about them.
Yesterday, Pastor Steve talked about how God's sovereignty is, in the end, more comforting than not. It doesn't explain exactly why things happen, but it does mean things are not out of control as I feared. I mean, not if you look at it this way:
There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. (Charles H. Spurgeon, attrib.)