In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Strong faith leaves room for complaints
The Rev. Pat Rush, pastor, Visitation Catholic Church, Kansas City, Mo.: In the Bible, it seems that God's people of the First Covenant are more comfortable arguing with God and complaining about God's perceived lapses in duty than most Christians are. The prophets Jeremiah and Habakkuk, as well as the Book of Job, are prime examples of this.
Those writings evidence the presumption that even a divinely made covenant is a two-way street and the sense that sometimes God forgets about God's end of the bargain. Habakkuk complained t hat God was not listening, because God had promised to be a rock of safety for his people, and, when their enemies attacked and defeated them, God failed to intervene.
People influenced by this tradition are not afraid to argue with God and complain when it feels that the Lord is neglecting them. This attitude is not rooted in a shallowness of faith.
Rather, it is usually rooted in a faith relationship so strong that an honest exchange is acceptable and in no way damaging. It is rooted in a faith conviction that God's commitment to us i s so deep that God can handle our disappointment and anger.
God did respond to those biblical heroes who brought their complaints to him. God said, "stay faithful because good things will come, just not now and not as you expect." God said they and we must live in patient trust.
God's love is steadfast in the face of anger
The Rev. Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: This is a question that only you can answer. I say get angry with God. Yell and scream at the top of your lungs. Stomp your feet, clench your fists, slam doors and kick the furniture. Maybe even throw an expensive vase at the wall and shatter it into hundreds of pieces. "There, take that God!"
Now then, how did that feel? Did it feel good or bad? Did it feel right or wrong? The greater question might be, what did God do to warrant such anger and blame?
God is life. The energy, power, spirit and life force within you, and you have free will to use it as you choose. Nothing to blame God about there.
God is love. The most incredible, blissful, wonderful, serene sense of being alive that we can experience. Nothing to blame God about there.
God is the wisdom that permeates your body and mind. That wisdom directs more than 100,000 intricate physical actions necessary for you to be alive. Nothing to blame God about there.
If you want to get angry with God, go ahead. God doesn't care. God's love and provision remain undiminished. But perhaps rather than directing blame and anger at God, maybe it would be more beneficial if you simply gave God the anger and expressed gratitude in the process. Let go, let God.