The letters continue to pour in, more than ever before in my eight years of blogging, in response to this week’s not-so-soft criticism of atheists and their faith. It appears that they aren’t all that used to being openly criticized, because they come unraveled so much more quickly than the adherents of any other religious system that has ever disagreed with my admittedly narrow theological beliefs. Their anger, profanity, threats, and foot-stomping demands that I “shut up,” “stay in church,” publish their responses RIGHT NOW, or go burn in a place I thought they didn’t believe existed, makes me feel like I’ve challenged a bunch of pouty teenagers to a debate.
But there’s another category of professing atheist, different from these ones that are devoted to their faith in godlessness to the point of being incapable of reason. This different kind of atheist actually believes deep down that God is there, but claims to believe He isn’t, because he or she is angry at God. These ones make comments about how if there were a God, then there wouldn’t be any of what they ironically call “acts of God,” like hurricanes, earthquakes, and all sources of suffering. These ones protest, rather confidently, that if God were real, they would have seen Him, and He would have come to them and been forced to answer to them for all of the things they perceive He is doing wrong in the world. Since He has never shown up to apologize for the fact that their mother died, or their friend got cancer, or whatever other horror they’ve endured, they decided in their hearts that the best revenge against Him for what they perceive as His indifference to their suffering, is to look Him in the eye and say, “You aren’t there. You don’t exist.” They know, deep down, He is there; but they’re mad at Him.
If they were right in their perceptions about His indifference, or about His injustice, then they would indeed have reason to be angry at Him. But He isn’t really the reason they have suffered. He is actually the One who can heal their pain and restore to them everything that has been lost, stolen, broken, or murdered in their hearts. Like Job in his moments of weakness, after he lost his 10 children, his property, and his health, they demand an audience with God so that they can state their case, plead their innocence, and have God apologize for failing to bless and protect them as much as they feel they deserved.
It’s an amazing thing that God did show up when Job summoned Him to a meeting. But what He said when He got there wasn’t anything like Job expected from the encounter.
If you’re one of those who is absolutely ticked off at God because of what you’ve been through, let me advise you not to deny Him. You don’t gain anything by that. It won’t make you happy or bring you peace and healing. Let me advise that instead you come to Him and seek His help and healing. He loves you, He can help you, and His answers to your problems, fears, and hurts will be more than satisfactory if you show the wisdom to take Him at His word, instead of just believing the falsehoods your heart has told you about Him. He saw your tears. And He wants to help you. He will, if you will let Him.