“I have not lost faith in God. I have moments of anger and protest. Sometimes I’ve been closer to him for that reason.”
Whenever I’m out in the yard or woods and I look down, only to see something lost and forgotten such as this decaying wing—or perhaps it is a feather, a bone, abandoned shell or horn from an animal, a small sense of sadness washes over me. Was this due to some natural cause such as a life coming to it’s natural end or was it due to the life and death struggle in the proverbial food chain—either way, I feel a twinge of sorrow, a certain feeling of loss.
When that same feeling of sadness from the loss of life comes to me on the much grander scale from that of human loss and/ or suffering, such as with the loss of a loved one or friend, those feelings are greatly intensified, as one would expect. When the frustration and helplessness comes while being in the troughs of watching a loved one, friend or even a complete stranger suffer the ravages of sickness and suffering there is another emotion that often surfaces besides the sadness—that of anger.
Perhaps it is a human response to such because we are so accustomed to being able to stop certain things from happening or because we think we should be able to alleviate certain pains…unfortunately there are those times that everything is out of our hands, out of our control and we can do nothing but watch and wait. Be it watching someone battle a sickness such as cancer or watching the destruction and havoc brought to so many by moments such as the Tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, we yearn to be able to either stop it from reigning death, pain, sorrow, destruction or swoop in making it immediately all better . This is when the anger replaces the sadness. We are angry that this all could not be stopped or avoided. That it was and is all out of our very control.
And with that anger, we often direct it to our unseen God. Our Father in Heaven. How could He, why would He…..we rile with frustration. We know that with our capacity to love that we, in love, could never allow such—if He in His infinite love allows such—what kind of love is that??
I have not lived through something as surreal as the Holocaust of which Elie Wiesel directs most of his thoughts, writings and feelings. I have not lived through the devastation brought forth from a natural disaster. My dealings with the anger of which I write, came from watching my mom battle cancer 27 years ago. As a young woman, watching my mom, who died at the age I am today, I sadly saw her pain and her resignation to death from life— I had those moments of anger with God. “How, why and if this must be, stop the terrible pain. Why won’t you stop her pain?! Why are you letting me lose her? Why are you letting me be so sad?…..” on and on those empty questions and statements go….
None of us are immune form pain and suffering—that is just apart of this thing we call life. Some experience more than what should be their allotted share…and so often, it all seems terribly unfair.
Padre Pio, a recently canonized catholic saint, spoke of suffering. He often told those who experienced pain and suffering (as these were constant companions of his during his life) that it is at such time God draws ever closer. To those who are in the midst of the pain and sorrow, such a statement perhaps sounds empty and shallow. But I believe it to be true.
I do believe that God is so much greater than our very anger. He is big enough to take it all. How can I say that you ask, or “it’s easy for you to say that as you type away in the comfort of a safe home….” I don’t have the answers to those tough questions often cried out in anguish–none of us do. I have cried them out myself, many times over the years—for me and for others. The famous book from the 80’s “Why do bad things happen to good people” attempted to sort such emotions out, but as is the case with such monumental emotions and questions, it too came up short.
I just have to cling to the fact that God is so much greater than I and that He is the Alpha and Omega—the Beginning and the End—He is the Creator and I am but the created. He does love, with a wealth of such so much more than what I can comprehend. That He is in the midst of the pain and suffering, full of the sorrow we all feel. My mind cannot wrap around the “whys” of the “somethings” that are happening at this moment and as to the “hows” of how they may effect something else at a different place and time or how something from the past is now tied in to this very moment now….the connections of transcendence.
He is ever present, omnipotent—being the past, present and future. My past, present and future—because if He is not, then all of this is for naught and that is a very sad predicament. So this is where this Hope I speak so much of comes into play. Without Hope, there is no tomorrow as there is nothing. I don’t want, nor can I live without the tomorrows, without the Hope.
I am thankful that He will take my anger, my pain, my sorrow, my suffering and, in turn, offer the Hope of a tomorrow. I cannot see tomorrow, but I know that it will come. Be it a good tomorrow or a bad tomorrow, the Hope of such will always be there–and often, that is comfort enough. May God take your anger, your pain, your sorrow and in turn offer you a tomorrow.
Hanging out with Thomas Merton in his The Ascent to Truth these days — it’s Thomas Merton on mysticism and St. John of the Cross in particular, wonderful accessable book. Because, of couse, St. John of the Cross’s most famous work is The Dark Night of the Soul. My friend Carolin ( http://poeticdialectic.wordpress.com ) and I have discussed that the problem of pain/suffering is probably an unwinnable argument from a Christian theological perspective.
Your image reminded me of a completely different post of a completely different nature I read the other day which nearly had me in tears. She’s Buddhist, so has a completely different view on things in many ways (she also has quite the story), but her writing is very beautiful just the same.
thank you for sharing Val–I’ll check into both…have you ever read or seen The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection? The book, or more a compilation of letters, was written 500 years ago. A simple book, but so rich in insight. The copy I have is from 1974 with an introduction by Dorothy Day. Brother Lawrence was a lay brother of the Discalced Carmelites of Paris and was most likely very aware of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. His was a hidden life as he worked in the kitchen and lived a very simple meager life—but we may catch a small glimpse his mystical relationship with the resurrected Christ through this tiny book Pretty powerful little book.
YES!!!! I found that book on Project Gutenberg!!! Brother Lawrence, like Thomas à Kempis and Teresa of Ávila…maybe Thérèse of Lisieux as well…is one of those people who just blows your mind. It’s not like reading someone like Francis of Assisi or Ignatius of Loyola or Augustine — those three were groomed to make something of themselves, they were schooled and literate. No, the simple faith of Brother Lawrence is so very profound.
The one I have been having a devil of a time finding, however, is Dorothy Day. I haven’t been able to find anything of hers available as an ebook.
perhaps that’s why he speaks to my heart so—a little less “schooled” 😉 and I must sadly confess that I have not read much from Dorothy Day–smatterings here and there—look at Ignatius Press—I love them and they offer a lot in the way of her writings, albeit probably not ebooks but there may be some info.
Thank you so much Julie for sharing something so personal.