When The World Goes Crazy: Here’s What I Really Need.


Photo from Athena Grace


When the world goes crazy and life gets upside-down, it’s really hip to say, “Just be there for someone” — and you’re called a jerk if you say anything else. This is the new quip-ster cliché, and it’s now its very own legalism.

I understand this, because it’s insensitive to preach cold abstract theology at hurting people. Anyone who does this is thrown under the Religious Nut Bus. Defending God over cancer and car accidents and earthquakes often feels like I’m punching the air. For some of us, the evil in this world is the single largest hang-up we’ll face to faith, even more than bigoted hypocritical Christians. We might part ways here and it’s easy to be cynical. And that’s okay. We’re free to disagree.

But I wonder if most millennial Christians only resort to “Don’t talk about God, just-be-there-for-them” because they’re afraid of backlash from mainstream opinion. I wonder how much of our talk on “relevance” is a cowardice in offering a clear lucid theology on the pain of a broken world. The church has definitely messed up this conversation in the past, with bad platitudes like “He moves in mysterious ways” and “Just-wait-until-heaven,” but when we’re done apologizing for where we got it wrong, the Bible still has something good to say. If we can get past the fear of ridicule, there’s a rich, robust, roaring framework of faith that can endure the worst that life will throw at us. Even when we don’t believe it to be true, I find myself wanting it to be.

Of course we need to be present to love, to listen, to learn. Our “being-there” has priority over theology. I’m not going to bring up my systematic outline of God’s sovereignty at the moment of your collapse. But at some point, I need to give you more than a hug. I need to respond to the hurt, and no one wants a pat on the head or a pat response.

I truly believe that the Christian faith has the most coherent, cogent, competent worldview on suffering. Christianity offers both the pathos and the logos, both a presence and a reason. On one hand, we keep silent vigil when a friend suffers; we are loyal by their side. And on the other hand, we talk it out. We vent our frustrations. We seek wholeness.

I believe, like Job, that it’s absolutely acceptable to struggle with the nature of God’s goodness, and that it’s okay if we’re never fully at rest with pain. We can keep asking: Is He truly good? Is He really in control? How much am I allowed to doubt Him while still holding onto Him? Do I have the grace to question Him?

Even if God never tells us why we go through tragedy, we can still ask Him —

What do we do now?

Christians believe this is all going somewhere. We don’t always know why, we don’t always know what God is really doing, we don’t always find it easy to trust Him.

But I don’t want to be ashamed of my theology.
After all, my theology is alive, risen, and here.

— J.S. | What The Church Won’t Talk About

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10 thoughts on “When The World Goes Crazy: Here’s What I Really Need.

  1. very good read! Especially – “I truly believe that the Christian faith has the most coherent, cogent, competent worldview on suffering. Christianity offers both the pathos and the logos, both a presence and a reason. “

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Article J.S. in my work as a chaplain I have noticed a trend. There are people who do not want me in their workplace because they do not believe. They will be mean and condescending. But in 6 months or 1 year they are the ones who are not connected to a church, they lack support and they lack answers. When something goes wrong they need me, ask for me and hang on the words I tell them. The reason is I am the one in their life who offers answers about Jesus. I am not special other than they know why I am there, and they ask for it in their time of need. So my philosophy of ministry has become “Jesus is the Answer.” Sometimes you have to diagnose the problem but the answer for believers and non-believers is always Jesus or more of Jesus. Christians in someone’s time of need are looked to have answers. We do not need to pound someone with deep theology but we need to answer, because Christianity has the only good answer for pain and suffering.

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    1. Thank you, I think you’ve struck a great balance between being a presence and offering a reason for hope. I’ll actually be entering chaplaincy soon at the local hospital, I’ll definitely keep your words and wisdom in mind. Please feel free to offer anything else here, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is a slower work this grace you speak of and doesn’t fit well in our instant-now culture very well. But then God has never attempted to fit in with us. He calls us to Himself and is OK when we struggle to get there.

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  4. Hi JS Park,

    Even if God never tells us why we go through tragedy, we can still ask Him —

    What do we do now?

    I’ve often find myself asking Him this question in the last couple of months – but I trust HIm even if sometimes I don’t have receive an answer of if I get an answer I didn’t want to hear.

    Insightful, thought-provoking post.

    Luna

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    1. Thank you, Luna! It can be a tough question, because it requires getting out of the chair and rolling up our sleeves. But I’ve found it’s perhaps the most important question, because it brings it all back to the people who are hurting and need such grace.

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  5. Absolutely. Indeed, the whole Christian faith is expressed in terms designed to comfort an oppressed and suffering people… and so is the ancient Hebrew faith.

    It is only modern interpretations, which arose after Christianity became powerful and stopped being systematically persecuted, which fail to grasp that the key ideas of faith, and particularly of eschatology, answer the deep questions about suffering.

    To comprehend eschatology like the Revelation, it is instructive to research the early martyrs, and see the comfort they took from it. It was originally given to a persecuted church… along with most other scripture!

    I have a kind of street-ministry. I talk to victims of sexual, psychological, and physical abuse, drug problems, violence, and so forth. I speak the promises that the Bible authorises me to speak, and it transforms a person’s perspective. It brings healing.

    My favourite question I was ever asked is “Why do innocent people suffer?” – http://www.onefaithonechurch.com/why-do-innocent-people-suffer/

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