Disclaimer: Obviously this essay does not intend to claim this is the only problem with God or even the biggest problem. It is not a treatise on institutionalized religion, criticism of one’s subscription to it, nor a document prescriptive on how to solve your problems with God but rather, is a short, personal reflection on religion, life, and mortality, based on my university’s course of the same name: “The Problem of God.” This could be as aptly titled “My Problem with God” but my chosen variation I found to have a universality (and, to be totally honest, marketability) that I seek when titling my works. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll expand this into a series that delves deeper into that after all…. But for now, I simply give you: “The Problem with God”
I was sad yesterday. A sentence I’ve written down, said to myself many times. I was not sad in the way that the day was marked by sadness but that during at least one part of it I deeply felt sad for something or someone before it suddenly went away. This was good, wasn’t it? Is this not what it means to be human? To be alive?
The sadness this day was familiar because I had a problem with God. Sad in the troubling way that I questioned Him (which I hated that I did), questioned Him so far as to wonder if He existed, and if He did and was, as I knew Him to be, all that was good, honest, and true — how could life be so cruel? How could it be so pointedly biased to a select group, region, and few?
Perhaps it was because I had spent the earlier hours of that day in that deep, dark place in the interior one must access when writing that made this particular news story weighed so heavily on my heart. There was the picture of his beautiful little face. There was the truth of his little life cut short by his own little hand. There was, sitting at a home now in Louisville, Kentucky, a woman and a man, grieving the death of their “miracle child”, only a decade past since God’s delivery to them, many years after they thought he would never arrive. I hoped they believed in both Heaven and the full power of law…this was my problem with God.
I had not felt this way since fall, two years ago, when the story broke that Bronx resident Deborah Danner was shot and killed inside her apartment after a face-off with the police. Years earlier, she wrote in an unpublished essay, Living with Schizophrenia, about the plight of the mentally ill who “meet law enforcement rather than health professionals” and “end up dead”. She smiled rarely, she’d said, but was still surviving. If her disease, its “blue funk”, was her curse, her friends, her therapist, the “wonderful Naomi”, were the many blessings. Blessings that “brought [her] closer to a God that loved [her],” that is until she wound up close to Him as close could be. If God could not save her on Earth, if she is beneath His wing only in death, then surely now she found home among angels?
A house. A house made of religion, Christ, and spirituality had been long-since built around me. I thought I could leave it. I thought it would be easy to tear it apart and use the framework to construct something new and safe and intellectually sound. So, I tore it apart and lived in what I could and what was left, the flimsy words of reason and man, could hardly shield me from the cold. The destruction was necessary. That, in hindsight, was certain; because it followed that after, I reconstruct the fortress of my faith, fortify it with the knowledge of things gained through intellect and experience, things that I now no longer feared. The new construction boasted the absence of shame and its power to incite fear, but sadness, firsthand and indirect, still found its way in. After all, very few problems had ever been solved by the erection of walls.
This, this, was the essence of the problem with God — that the times we resent Him most, are exactly when we need Him, and His Power, most. And when those times arise, it is us that must confront Him, turn in to or away from Him, but we must make the choice to decide one, and that choice is the essence of the audacity of hope, the audacity of our faith, that to others we would seem foolish, in our present circumstance, to continue on filled with the hope that we’ll be saved by grace.
Oh, how human of me it was that the Power of God was My Problem with God.
Matthew 5:23 — “And [he] besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”