As a child, moving to a new school was one of the most painful things I had ever had to go through. My outgoing and charismatic sister made it look so easy. She seemed to know every kid in the neighborhood within an hour of moving in. I was painfully shy and insecure so making new friends was difficult to say the least. (As an aside to help facilitate the process, my mom took me to a basketball tournament to meet some of my new classmates before school started for the next term. The coach found me a uniform and then proceeded to make “the new kid” shoot every free throw awarded our team for fouls called on the guards (we played the wonderful game of 6 on 6 back then). Apparently none of the other forwards could even get the ball to the basket! I made 6 free throws that day. Our team scored 8 points. Yeah, we were bad.)
The experience of moving as a child made my ears perk up when a grad school professor began a story saying, “We often treat God like a kid who comes home from their first day at a brand new school would treat their father.” I had wonderful professors in graduate school who often taught through story. (Hmm, wonder where they got that idea!) My professor continued saying, “The child’s father says, ‘How was school?’ The child responds, ‘I had an awful day! The other kids laughed at me and beat me up and I hate you for making me go there!’ Then the child storms off to cry by themselves, alone in their room.”
My professor explained that this is how we often treat God when bad things happen to us. We almost immediately blame him and lash out at him. Now, like the father in the story, he is big enough and strong enough to handle our outburst. However, what would have happened if the child had climbed into her loving father’s arms and said, “Dad, I had the worst day ever. The kids teased me, beat me up, and I don’t ever want to go back”? That child would then be in a place to receive comfort. The father may say that they have to go back to school, the source of the pain, but the child knows they are supported and understood in the midst of the hurt.
Hurt happens and pain is real, but God’s love and empathy are just as real. And greater than any hurt or pain you can imagine. It’s ok to be angry with God, but express your anger in a way that allows him to respond with care and compassion. Comfort is not found when we are alone in our bedroom. No, comfort is found when we crawl up onto his lap and allow him to embrace us.