Over the years as I have shared my family’s story of loving a child who suffers from bi-polar disorder, I have been asked numerous questions. The other day I received a letter from a mom who simply wanted to know “How do you get past your anger at God? How could God allow this?”
Wow. What great questions!
And Wow. How do I answer them?
First of all, it’s okay to be angry at God. God is big enough to handle our anger. But it isn’t okay to stay angry at God. That is unhealthy and God wants more for you than that. So be angry at God for a little while, but don’t stay mad at God. It is important to move forward in faith.
In all honesty, despite my own child’s illness, I have never been angry at God. I have cried to God and prayed to God. I have poured my heart out to God. But I have never been angry at God.
When it comes to God and illness or tragedies of any kind, we must understand a few things. Most importantly, we must understand the heart of God. Let’s break it down like this:
We Live in a Broken World
In order to understand or make sense of a child’s illness or a tragedy, we have to understand the world. When God created the world, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). God marveled at His creation. He marveled at the earth and the sky and the water and the birds. He was proud of all that He had made. God’s intentions for the world were “very good”.
And then God created human beings. “Man and woman were created in God’s image…And God blessed them.” (Genesis 1:27-28)
But God also gave human beings free will. God gave us the freedom to make choices. As a result of our choices, we must live with the consequences of those choices; good or bad.
In the story of Adam and Eve, God explains that there is evil in the world. He tells Adam and Eve about the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) He goes on to give Adam and Eve specific instructions about the tree. He says, “You can eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
So what did Adam and Eve do? That’s right! They went and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And there were consequences.
God was very clear that as a result of their disobedience, the world would become a very difficult place. What God intended to be good and perfect, human beings destroyed. There were consequences and it wasn’t pretty. Just read Genesis 3:14-21
The world is cruel. The world is broken.
There is disease. There is heartbreak. There are accidents. There are tragedies. There is evil.
And yes, there is mental illness.
None of it comes from God. It comes from sin. It comes from the evil one.
We live in a broken world.
God Is Faithful
Once we understand that the world is broken, it becomes easier to see that God is not intentionally causing us harm. In fact, in spite of our own actions and our often unwise choices, God continues to love us. God walks beside us, He carries us, He comforts us, He guides us. The Bible is filled with stories of God’s faithfulness.
All we have to do is look to the Old Testament Scriptures to discover God’s heart for His people. Here are a few of my favorite verses:
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” – Isaiah 46:4
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” – Isaiah 43:2
“God is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34:18
Those are just a few of my favorites, but the Old Testament is filled with people who struggled but who turned to God and found God’s love and faithfulness. Psalm 139 tells us that God was with us before we were ever conceived. He never leaves us, He never abandons us. He loves us and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
When tragedy strikes, when our broken world catches up to us, God never leaves us. God rejoices over us with singing! God is faithful.
God Sent Jesus
Now here is where the story really gets good. Even though God revealed His faithfulness and He continually offered comfort and strength in our broken world, He wasn’t satisfied. God loves us so much that He wanted to do more. God wanted to overcome sin and evil completely, so God sent Jesus.
“For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
The New Testament tells us the story of Christ’s birth, His ministry, His miracles, and His death on the cross. But the Good News is that Jesus overcame death! There was VICTORY and in the end, the evil one does not win! Jesus wins! And those of us who follow and BELIEVE win too!
Christ came into the world and He was called Emmanuel, which means “God With Us.” (Matthew 1:23) God came to earth to walk among us, to feel what we feel, to experience all that we experience. Jesus experienced all of our emotions. He felt joy, He felt anger, He felt pain. We even know that “Jesus wept.” (John 11:36)
Yes, God is with us. God understands our pain.
And with God we can overcome life’s greatest heartaches.
“His name will be the hope of the world.” – Matthew 12:21
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jesus, John 14:27
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 1 Corinthians 12:9
“With God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
God sent Jesus! With Christ we are VICTORIOUS!
The Holy Spirit
And finally, God sent us the Holy Spirit. In His great love for us, God did not want us to have to face the broken word alone. He sent His Spirit to live within us, to give us power, to give us strength, to give us wisdom, and to carry us through every difficult situation.
“The same power that raised Christ from the dead is living in you.” – Romans 8:11
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” – Zechariah 4:6
“But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” – 1 Timothy 4:17
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26
With the Power of the Holy Spirit alive in us, we have access to the same Power that raised Christ from the dead. We can overcome any obstacle that comes our way. We are more than conquerors. We find JOY in the darkest of circumstances. We rejoice because we know that God is with us.
My son suffers from severe mental illness. His illness was not caused by God, it was simply a result of life in a broken world. And WITH God, my son is healing.
My marriage fell apart. That was not caused by God either. That was a result of human brokenness. My husband and I were weak, we were fragile, and we were faced with overwhelming challenges that without God we could not handle.
And today, WITH GOD, our relationship and our family are being restored.
There is brokenness everywhere. All you have to do is drive down the street or turn on the 10:00 news. Our world is filled with pain.
But God did not cause the pain. The evil one caused the pain. God is with us to comfort us and sustain us in spite of the pain. With God we can overcome the pain.
My prayer for you today is that you will see the world for what it is; BROKEN.
And that you will see the heart of God. God is with you. God loves you. God gives you perfect peace. God gives you strength. God will never leave you or forsake you. Even when we cannot understand God’s ways, we trust that His ways are higher than our ways, that His thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9)
For those of you who have children who are suffering, remember that God loves them too. God has a plan for their lives. They are fearfully and wonderfully made!
Let go of your anger at God. Trust Him. God never wastes a single hurt! He will use your circumstances for something good.
My heart and prayers are with you. God is singing over you. God loves you.
“And we know that in ALL things GOD works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28