Good & Mad…at God?
There’s an old song I know called What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor? It was one of the many songs my dad and his friends would belt out when sharing a pilsner and playing their guitars at parties. They’re Swedish, so they love boats. In fact, they leisurely sailed across the ocean for two years, visiting many parts of Europe, North Africa, the Canary Islands, and the Caribbean, before landing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (where I’m from). I even lived on a sailboat for the first couple years of my life.
It’s an old sea shanty song. Sailors would go round and round through the verses to help the time pass as they worked through their duties.
The song is about what to do in the event you discover a sailor drunk and passed out on the ship in the morning. All the remedies involve either teaching him a lesson or getting rid of him—like shave his belly with a rusty razor or tie him in knots and throw him over. Why? Because he’s either a complete reprobate or very angry.
Most people don’t know any drunken sailors. But we know someone who shares similar characteristics of one. Maybe we’ve acted like that a time or two in a rough patch ourselves.
>We all get mad at God.
I think it’s all part of the process of dealing with the deep pains of life while we’re living in the gap between the situation that has caused the pain and deciding if God is still good. The question is, what do you do from there?
My wife was recently sick, real sick. Laid up in bed and weak. I changed my work schedule to take care of her (and to keep the kids on the other end of the house). Mainly, I was just trying to leave her alone and let her relax. Actually, I had to force her to do nothing. She’s not very good at it. She’s a bit of a busybody. Rather than having her be sick for several days, I was trying a new strategy. I made her stay still to see if the sickness would go away sooner. And it did.
The kids started to miss her during the day. Dad is just not as patient, creative, or attentive with them as she is.
We were watching TV when my oldest son looked at me and reluctantly shared his thoughts. He said, “I know we’re supposed to think about God the most, but when Mommy’s sick I think about her more.” It was a connection he made on his own. So I told him, “I understand. I do the same thing. It’s okay, God understands.”
It scared me. Whether or not he understood it, he’s on the way to questioning the goodness of God. He’s also on his way to having to deal with anger. In his own way, he was caught up in the process I’ve been describing: Mom is sick (life’s hard and I’m disappointed), I want her to feel better (God, can you change this situation and bring a ray a sunshine?), she’s not getting better and I keep thinking about it (when will God do something about this?), I don’t know what to do. My son’s not old enough yet, but one day he’ll understand that something isn’t right, and it will evolve into getting mad.
>I only hope he’ll figure out how to work through it before it turns into bitterness.
And that’s the real challenge for all of us: How we view God’s goodness in the middle of our pain can be the determining factor in our faith and if it endures.
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