Christian Math

8 06 2007

This post is partially nuts. It’s nuts to attempt it, because there are always exceptions, people worse off than many of us, and people who have terrible situations who are more than able to see God’s goodness in their lives. But I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, so here I go, anyway…

Two years ago, I was crying on the phone with my mother, about how God has forsaken me in this infertility journey. My mother’s response was, “Cathy, is God only good when you get what you want?” Well, obviously, the answer is “no.” God is good—all the time, right? That’s what I want to believe.

Yet, don’t we often hear/say the following statements, after people have a great experience, or a difficult experience-turned-wonderful?: “God was so good”… “God helped me through that.”…. “God’s goodness was so evident to me, as he gave me the strength to cope.”… And then, when I state my doubt in God’s goodness, or when I express my feelings of frustration and abandonment from God, people respond in frustration and disbelief: “But God is so good, if you only look for his goodness!” And often, they put it on me. If only you’d pay attention, Cathy. If only you’d spend more time in prayer, stop worrying about the future, focus on the good you do have in your current life situation, praise God in all situations, etc… And there is some truth to this. On one hand, the responsibility is on me to seek God’s goodness despite feeling forsaken by the omnipotent God. And I accept that I am not always willing to do this, because the pain is too great, and experience has taught me that hope, even in God, leads to disappointment.

On the other hand, I think that for so many of us, this is the Christian math we speak, whether we realize it or not: I pray for something + God answers my prayer = God is good. OR… I pray for something + it doesn’t happen + I pray again + God at least answers part of my prayer, by not making other situations worse in life = God is good. That’s Christian math as I have heard it and, in the past, spoken it.

But in my experience, (and though I don’t claim to speak for others, I know that others struggling with years of unanswered prayers feel similarly) the reality of Christian math goes like this: I pray for something + it doesn’t happen + I pray harder + it happens to others all around me and I have to be simply grin and bear it + I pray again + God draws out the painful situation, and allows other difficulties to be thrown in at the same time + I keep praying, including prayers for strength to cope + my prayer request is once again answered in someone else’s life… = God is good?

The fact is, God is good. We need to proclaim God’s goodness in all situations. And I don’t want to be a fair-weather Christian, only content with God when things go her way.

But it’s hard. And to those of you who don’t comprehend ever questioning God’s goodness, please, for the sake of those in your life who understand it better than they want to, please try.

Please understand that Christian math does not always turn out as we like to think it does… and that when it doesn’t, it’s not easy to proclaim “God is good”, especially when surrounded by those who have exactly what you’ve been praying for.

Please understand that each milestone, year, anniversary, and reminder of what has been withheld from you makes it that much more difficult.

Please understand that feeling this way—questioning God’s goodness, feeling abandoned by God—can be more agonizing than the original pain.

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3 responses

8 06 2007
heidi

Hmmm. Nicely written. Also I thought the title of this blog post was “Christian Meth” (like the homemade drug). Which made me laugh outloud. And I was very intrigued to read it! But then I got here and it was Christian Math. I hate math. Well I don’t like Meth either but…

OK on your actually blog post… I’ve never liked that song “God is good” because as a kid I was forced to go around and sing it at Nursing homes all dressed up. I always thought it was stupid. These people can’t even hear, are in pain, and aren’t even present and we are singing “God is good”. I think instead “God is With”. And I also have almost zero friends who get what they want when they pray so that combined with the fact that I hate math… Who wants to do math anyway. Now a post on Christian Art a bit more difficult to dodge.

I do think you should try and write about christian meth. Not sure what you’d say but I’m sure it’d be interesting. 🙂

8 06 2007
kankelfam

I cannot tell you how much this post means to me. I have a daughter with many special needs. Our life is not easy. I’ve prayed and prayed for God to heal her, to just let her live a normal life and my prayers have not been answered. Nobody around me seems to understand how much I struggle with this. Recently, I was at a party and a friend of mine was telling someone else about her difficult pregnancy. Over and over again, she talked about how God protected her baby and her daughter is just fine. I sat, silently, wondering why God didn’t do the same for me and my daughter.

8 06 2007
Couldn’t have said it better myself. « KANKELFAM!

[…] 8th, 2007 by kankelfam There is a fantastic post written over on Pressed but Not Crushed. If you’ve ever struggled, this will resonate with […]

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