I recently saw this tweet, from @BibleStdntsSay:
"When someone is in chronic pain, their faith should be at an all time high. God won't put more on us than we can bear." (facepalm)
— Bible Students Say.. (@BibleStdntsSay) 2015年4月20日
This is TOTALLY A THING in American evangelical culture. People always talk about how suffering brings us closer to God. As if this is something that automatically happens when you're having a horrible time.
I've heard testimonies about how people have gone through illness, divorce, death of their family members, all kinds of horrible stuff, and how God was totally with them. I believe those testimonies- but they aren't the whole story. Let's also hear from the people who suffered and God was nowhere to be found.
I've heard this often trotted out as an "answer" to the question of why God allows evil to happen in the world. "Well," they say, "God brings good things out of suffering. It brings people closer to God."
I've heard people say that the reason impoverished countries have a higher proportion of religious people is that it's so much easier for people who are in need to feel God's presence and rely on God.
I've heard American Christians talk about Christians in other parts of the world who face persecution, and how it makes their faith so much stronger, and they, apparently, deeply feel God's presence and experience miraculous rescues and things. These stories always seem to be told with a bit of jealousy- oh, if only I were a persecuted Christian, I would have the opportunity to know God like that.
Overall, Christian culture taught me this: When you suffer, when horrible things happen to you, you cry out to God, and you experience God's love/peace/etc in a totally incredible way, which would never have been possible without the suffering. That's how it works.
Yeah. Right. So let me tell you about my gall bladder.
Back when I was working on my master's degree, I had big plans. I was going to get all my research done, write my thesis, graduate, and move to China, all within, say, the next six months. But then I got sick, suddenly. I felt nauseous every day. I couldn't go to class, because as soon as I got there, I would feel like I was going to throw up. I couldn't work on my research because, yep, felt like I was gonna throw up. I couldn't really do much of anything, and this lasted for weeks and I had no idea why.
I ended up going back to live with my parents. I literally could not do anything. Just laid on the couch every day, feeling sick because I hadn't eaten, feeling sick because I had eaten.
How could this happen? How could God let this happen? I was a totally healthy college student, I had plans, I had goals, and then suddenly my body just started being terrible and I couldn't do anything.
This was the proof that "We can trust God" is a lie. Because what on earth would "trust God" mean, if it didn't include "we can trust God not to let huge unexpected things come up and totally derail your entire life"?
I prayed a little, I guess. But there were no answers. My only thought was, maybe I'm dealing with the unreasonable, violent, bad-at-communicating God from 2 Samuel 21, and this is punishment for dating a guy without getting approval from God first.
And... I thought I was doing it wrong. People always say suffering brings us closer to God, but this totally didn't. Evidently, I was suffering incorrectly. Here was this big opportunity to experience God's love in a new and amazing way, and I had somehow screwed it up. Maybe I didn't pray enough.
And I mean, if you're preaching something that makes horribly sick people blame themselves for not having some kind of amazing spiritual experience, maybe stop preaching that.
After 2 months, I had surgery to get my gall bladder removed. I felt 1000 times better, but still often got nauseous. I worried that I wouldn't be able to get a job because the idea of having responsibilities and not being able to go lie down whenever I felt sick seemed impossible.
Then I got depression, because sitting at home feeling like everything in your life is failing will do that to a person.
Eventually I got better. I found a job, I'm living my dream in China now. But that whole gall bladder thing delayed my life by about a year. And now I can't eat fried rice or other stuff with too much fat, or it makes me feel nauseous.
How and why did this happen? No idea. No answers. My doctor doesn't know what caused it either.
Was God trying to teach me something? Was God trying to bring me closer to Godself? Heh. Yeah right. All I learned was that I can't trust God.
Comment policy: If you try to give me some kind of cliche answer about "God was teaching you something" or "God was sparing you from something worse" I will lol at you. You think I haven't all those before?
Basically if you don't believe me when I say it completely sucked, I'm not interested in what you have to say.