I recently watched an episode of the television show The West Wing in which President Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, deals with the God of his understanding in a way that may shock some of you. Take a moment to watch it.
Talk about anger with God! The old-time Catholic inside of me kept waiting for President Bartlett to get struck by lightning.
And yet I found myself resonating to that anger. I have heard all the explanations for senseless suffering. Christian ones. Jewish ones. Buddhist ones. I grew up in a home in which senseless suffering was faced with stoicism and resignation. I’ve heard others invoke concepts ranging from “It’s God’s will” to “It’s your attachments.” Maybe some of those explanations are correct. Maybe they are not. All that I know is that the God of my understanding feels more real to me when I am arguing with Him/Her. I am also aware that I at times step away from my rage out of fear. Perhaps the God of my understanding really will punish me for raging. Perhaps those well-meaning persons were right when they told me I shouldn’t question God.
And so I come to the conclusion that it takes courage to rage at God the way President Bartlett does. I’m also reminded of the scene in Forrest Gump when the character Lt. Dan lets loose his rage over what happened to him in the war:
I also am coming to the conclusion that it is only through facing that rage that I can find peace and have a true relationship with the God of my understanding.
Do I have the courage?
Reflection: How do you view the rages of President Bartlett or Lt. Dan? Sinful? Courageous? Something else? What are your experiences?
I am ignoring the “reflection” questions to answer your last question on your own courage. Richard, you are probably the most courageous person I know. It is evident in what you have chosen to do and how you go about doing it. It makes, what I like to think, a silent tsunami for each individual you touch. If that is born from from how you deal with your rage at God, then maybe God is directing you in that rage.
i will tell you as a believer that I argue, get angry and rage against God all the time…and it’s usually during those times that an unusual peace and calmness envelopes me….I believe that He expects…indeed wants us as humans to rail against Him! It means we are approaching Him and questioning Him in our feeble humaness (is that a word?) but yet we are seeking Him! Our anger and rage toward Him is actually a prayer to Him for understanding…
I had an anger at God that made the tirade by President Bartlett look like a TED talk. It was more along the lines of Lieutenant Dan but nastier. While I did not get struck by lightening, I did get zapped by being shown the mirror image of my anger while looking in a reflecting pool of holy water. I did get a response of sorts too. The answer I got was that God “said”, ” I never promised that life would be fair or easy or free from evil. I did not even promise that to my own son. What I promised was to love you through the moments when you are overwhelmed by sorrow or hateful people. And I promised to embrace you when you get to the other side. That is all”.