WTF, God?

One of my greatest joys is to journey alongside people in their honest relationship with God.  I have yet to encounter someone in spiritual direction who was saying things like “I am feeling so great spiritually!” “I’ve never been this connected to God.” or “I am completely filled up.”  Usually, our conversations are wrestling with disconnection, fear, anger, mistrust, separation, and honestly a lot of questions that start with WTF, God?

I understand that a lot of people might be offended by that. Can we really say that to God? Where is worship, reverence, trust?

My response is always the same–God can handle it. The scriptures are filled with people calling out to God in that way, just with a little different twist but the same idea.

In my week when I see people struggling in such significant ways, not being able to get a break no matter how hard they try, not ever experiencing relief and healing in the ways we all wished, I’m the first to cry out in the same way–WTF, God? Like, really, where are you in all of this?

A huge piece of my healing as part of my unraveled faith and rebuilding has been to let God off the hook. I no longer hold to a theology where God controls all things, makes everything happen, and we are part of a big chess game where God moves the pieces. These are all core elements of what I was taught–either directly or subtly–for many years.  That theology came apart every time I encountered any kind of pain related to child abuse, sexual abuse, sudden deaths and tragedies, and a whole host of other “really, God did that to me? to my friends?” Um, no.  Is God with us in that, yes, I personally deeply believe that and that has been one of the cornerstones of my faith no matter what.  God, with us, is a promise.  God in everything, working in the darkness, redeeming the sh*t, making beauty of ashes, rebuilding places that are devastated, revealed in Jesus in ways our minds can’t grasp, now that I believe.

Right now, with the world in so much chaos and confusion and so many are disoriented, I know that WTF, God? is the cry of so many hearts. Topped with real life, real pain, real loss, real how-did-I-end-up-here circumstances, there’s a lot to cry out to God about these days.

A few that I’ve encountered this week in different conversations include:

WTF, God, how did I serve you for all these years, faithfully attending church and giving my heart and soul and guts and now I don’t even know how to talk to you anymore, let alone have a relationship with you? 

WTF, God, where are you in tragic accidents, the ravages of cancer, and sudden deaths? 

WTF, God, why can my friends never get a break? If it’s not someone stealing their money than it’s some sudden illness that makes them not be able to work and then their car stops running. Like, really? Really?

WTF, God, how did it end up that when I crack open my Bible I can only hear the voices of people who taught it and it always ends up with me feeling shame and doubt. 

WTF, God, why does it seem like the bad guys keep winning?

WTF, God, how did your church built on the wild ways of Jesus, get this far away from you?

WTF, God, I want a partner in life so bad but I am afraid to even hope it could be possible.

WTF, God, how did I lose this much and how in the $(@&@^!($ did I end up here? 

WTF, God, where are you in the darkness? Why can’t I feel you, hear you, see you? I’m trying so hard and you are just nowhere to be found. 

There are so many more but those are just a few off the top of my head. For those of you who are in this season, I’m wondering what’s your WTF, God?

WTF, God, ________________________________________.

I think God can hack it.

And at the end of it we need to know we’ll probably not get an answer. The mysteries of faith and life make it that way, and I personally don’t trust anyone who is tries to make sense of what is beyond us.

But it also makes me think of a little phrase that I love to come back to over again from the story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. Everyone’s trying to make sense of why he was blind and healed, and he basically says back that he doesn’t know the answer to that but he does know “I was blind and now I see.”

I don’t know_____ but I do know ______.

Sometimes the best we can do is “I don’t know why in the $(#&!^$(!!) this is happening, but I do  know I’m alive, breathing, and here for another day.

And other times, it might look like “I don’t know where God fits into all of this and can’t make any sense of it, but I do know I am here doing the best I can with what I have.”

More on this in an old blog post but I think for me sometimes I need to be anchored in what still remains, a reminder that faith isn’t certainty, and that I’m human and there’s so much I’ll truly never know.

For now, I had this thought this week about all the WTF, God’s that so many of us have. In a world that’s shaking us all up in new ways, it makes me wonder if maybe God is saying back to us,

WTF, people? Like, really?

Love and hope today from Colorado, kathy

//

ps: I haven’t been blogging much in the midst of this season, and I never shared a few things I was part of this past month or two if you want to listen in…

I was a guest on the Brew Theology podcast, talking all things Faith Shift with a great group of folks:

Faith Circus is beginning to wind down on Season 2, but here are a few recent episodes you might want to listen to:

and then we also did a little series on Recovery Church and Codependence that I really enjoyed:

And March SheLoves Magazine theme was centered on being bold for change. I wrote a piece on fear–Doing Hard Things Scared.  Here’s to courage.

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • Of all the various comments, posts, blogs I have read of late, this one has been the most grounded in a faith that works (for me). Thank you!

    Reply
    • I so agree. I need to let God off the hook – I just wish that it WAS all true – that God would answer the desires of our hearts…hell even the basis needs would be nice. Not sure where my faith is going – it almost seems like its in its death throes at this point. Im scared what I’ll find on the other side of faith. If its nothing but darkness and pain…well it won’t be pretty.

      Reply
  • Years ago when I first met you … I struggled… ALOT(you know this!) Anyway… one of the things you taught me was Grace… i never knew what it meant or what it really felt like… the storm i would call it… brutal! For me Its a choice… all these years i waited for Him to put me out of my misery after telling Him to ‘Go to hell’… ‘Go fk yourself’…but no… i can go on and on with the stuff I said to Him… what does he do? He loves me anyway… Grace… its something i don’t deserve… but its given anyway… its like a voice and a feeling i get from Him… telling me ‘It’s ok… i can take it… Thats how much I love you.’ Gosh!! that was something i felt i didn’t deserve cause the lies i believed that was going on in my head and from the things people did/say to me… i eneded up believing it! Blaming Him for the the traumatic & brutal things i went thru growing up… what I’ve been taught by you…it wasn’t him who did those things. It was the evil choice people did… not Him… We all still can say ‘WTF GOD!?!?’ He can still take it! Those things u said in your blog… applies to that… don’t you think?

    Reply
  • I found you by listening to Shalom in the City. Here I am at your blog feeling like a Christian Misfit, needing my blog to go in a different direction because… real life, right? I’m so glad I’m here. I’m glad I ran into this. I’m subscribing. Godspeed!

    Reply
  • You know, I’m not sure what I believe about God anymore, but this is one of the truest posts I have ever read about suffering. I used to go to John Piper’s church and bought into the whole “God likes to cause suffering” stuff. I just can’t believe in a God that doesn’t care about me in my suffering.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s so encouraging.

    Reply

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