I heard it again the other day. As we worked our volunteer job, a new acquaintance spoke about her children, and then told me how "bitter and angry" she was at God--because her son committed suicide. She wondered, was God "punishing" her?
I blame the deplorably prolific depiction of our saving God as a tyrant-type, for this all too common and in my humble opinion, grave error of thinking. It is a "grave" error--because it can deeply affect those who are struggling with the bereavement of a loved one. Especially the death of a child.
What kind of a "God" . . . would cruelly punish a mother with the death of her child? I told my fellow volunteer that I could never and would never, love God if He would do such a thing! How could you love and honor Someone like that?
Individual "Free Will" is the real culprit here--not God. I need to state that I personally do not believe it is a "free" choice when someone commits suicide. That action goes against everything ingrained in our hunan psyche to survive at all costs. Mental illness is the reason someone takes their own life and there is nothing "free" in a a will that is bound by the stranglehold of mental illness' ravages. I have suffered from mental illness in the past (Jesus' helping me, the reason why I have strong faith) and speak from experience. Mental illness is very demonic-like. It is sly, and secretive, and wraps around you like a serpent trying to choke every last breath right out of you--preventing you from thinking clearly.
What I believe, is that God being Omniscient and outside of time's restrictions, knew what ultimately would happen to her son--what choice would be made due to his mental state at that time. I firmly believe that God did not want this to happen, but God did allow this to happen. (This is a huge difference.) Why? is the natural question. There is no way we can figure out the "why" of that. Not any more than figuring out "why" the truck that killed my family instantly, was aligned with us at that intersection at the exact same time. Only in the next life will we be given that knowledge. (If we even care to know at that time, because I feel we'll be so enthralled and delighted to be with Jesus and back with our loved ones, nothing else will matter. "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! . . . " (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)
I will never believe that God would "punish" a mother by causing her child to die. I believe that a misrepresentation of God, heard over and over again, adds tremendously to people believing this lie from the enemy. Remember, our common enemy is sly . . . He twists God's words and promotes a lack of trust in God's saving mercy and love. What is scary to me, is that it clearly states in the Bible that he and his followers masquerade as God's helpers--and Satan himself as an "angel of light." ! ("For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.")
(2 Cor 11: 13-14 NIV)
The biggest help to anyone that is struggling with a serious problem, is to have someone helping them that has struggled with the same thing-- has survived it-- and hopefully thrived afterward.
This is one of the basics of all 12 Step groups -- "like helping like." Someone who has "been there" is infinitely more effective in helping someone that is suffering, than someone who has never had to face that particular issue and done battle with it. (The exception here though, is someone whose personality is one that unhelpfully torpedoes its way into someone's suffering, and blasts, rather than soothes.)
~THAT~ is why I truly believe, why Jesus was sent to us. Jesus suffered His agony in Gethsemane; why He experienced all mankind's sin effects. That is why He suffered cruel mental, physical and spiritual torture and died on the cross . . . so we can have someone to identify with our struggles, in this life of travail. We're not all born into families that have Loving Response written on their foreheads. Some of us have heard the sound of a dead phone after being hung up on, after an urgent, "Help me please!" call.
With Jesus, there is no hanging up the phone, no snickering in contempt or walking away from . . . but only REAL HELP. That is why I feel it is so deplorable, that over and over again, we hear this errant preaching from usually reputable sources. They seem to delight in frightening those who want to cautiously approach -- preaching along the lines of,
"The blood and guts spilled from Jesus satisfied the eternal demands of our commanding tyrant Father, who demanded retribution for all the sins committed against Him before letting any of us miserable sinners before His Magnificent Presence."
Yeah, like I'm going to timidly approach God for help with that kind of portrayal of Him?!! The subtle message is to stay away!
What??? Is this the same Father that ran to the Prodigal Son after watching and waiting for him to return--who lavished love on him before sonny even apologized? Who treats us like a loving mother would? (. . . "You will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees." Isaiah 66:12 NIV). There's just way too much of a disconnect here, between these two competing versions of God the Father, for me to understand. (Yes, there is much in the Old Testament regarding blood sacrifice, etc. God had to, "dummify it down" and use language and imagery that Biblical-time folks could "get." They were still worshipping pagan gods back then!) There's no delight for God with meaningless sacrifice--He desires mercy, from us. Loving responses--and not harsh treatment and blood shedding. Quotes below, from BibleHub.
But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
If only you had known the meaning of 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent.
and to love Him with all your heart and with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, which is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
1 Samuel 15:22
Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
"I do not reprove you for your sacrifices, And your burnt offerings are continually before Me.
To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice.
"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
Jesus is our shining example (literally) of "I've been there and done that in regard to all mortal suffering. There's never a time when we can say,
"But Jesus wouldn't know about that--about this kind of suffering I'm going through."
I believe that's what the mystery of the Agony in the Garden was about and all the mystery surrounding His crucifixion. Don't let the enemy keep you from approaching Our True Friend, the only One that is always there for us.
Don't believe any one that preaches a God other than the One you have come to know and love.