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“Your God is not good” or “your God is not moral” is a cry from deep within someone’s soul that always gets me right in the gut. That is a cry born of  pain and frustration, of great injustice and grief. “If God were good He wouldn’t have allowed all the things I’ve seen to happen.” I hear the pain behind that statement, but I can’t fix it, I can’t take it away. There simply are no magic answers to that question. It’s a heart matter, not a head matter, one you have to reconcile with God yourself.

Women will do this sometimes, in response to abuse, in response to kids getting sick and dying, just this kind of revoked authority, as if to tell God, you aren’t worthy, I’m so angry with you, you don’t even exist anymore. I’m more moral than you are. I care so, so, much more than God does.

That’s just pride, fear, anger, mostly pride, this powerful need to show our disapproval, to withdraw our allegiance. Total no confidence vote. I’ve struggled there a few times myself. I call it divorcing Jesus Christ, in my case never quite severing that tie, because when I’ve stomped off I tend to take Him with me….to yell at some more for breaking my whole world.

I understand the heart behind it, but it still defies logic and reason, it’s a form of cognitive dissonance. By what standard do we judge the morality of God? Is it not His very standard that teaches us to hate what He hates? In the absence of God we don’t even have a right to our own rage, to our own cry of “immoral.” Immoral by whose standard? Are clumps of cells immoral? Do spiders grieve for the flies they eat?

Our own standard is a subjective standard that has just declared ourselves wiser, more moral, more just, than the Creator of the universe. The moment we start believing our own opinions are vastly superior to the One who made us, we’ve revealed a flaw in our own reasoning.

I empathize because I can hear the pain and the grief behind it, but I get angry too because I see the pride and I wonder, why do we always think it is all about us, all of the time? As if no one else in the world has ever suffered, too! As if they don’t need you to point them to God, rather than running about declaring He doesn’t exist. One’s own alleged vast moral superiority, the one that believes itself more empathetic and wiser than God Himself, has now decided that most moral thing one can do in the world is to go about telling people there is no hope and that God is immoral.

Sometimes we deceive our own selves, completely lacking self-awareness, as we display our vast empathy towards others by promptly informing them, your God is not good! That’s not empathy, its pure selfishness disguised as virtue. In truth you aren’t even thinking of the needs of another person, you’re thinking of your own needs, of the need for an ally, someone to affirm your own cognitive dissonance, someone to make you not feel so crazy. That’s not empathy at all, its pride and selfishness and fear.

I’ve been there, running on that hamster wheel myself, torn somewhere between God is good and yet God allowed the unthinkable to happen, trying to reconcile those two truths that seem to exist in opposition to one another. The only thing I know to do is to step off the hamster wheel, surrender all at the foot of the cross, and accept that there are some things we are never going to fully understand this side of heaven. Sometimes we have to just close our eyes, trust, and lean not into our own understanding. One thing I do know, our own understanding can make us downright nutty sometimes.

It is not moral, it is not empathetic, it is not virtuous to go about telling other people that God is not good, not moral, and He doesn’t care. In fact, that very act is all we need to  see to prove that one is actually behaving in an immoral manner, consumed by selfishness and lacking empathy. That makes one less moral than God Himself, which renders one unworthy to judge God by the standard…..one has gone and borrowed from Him in the first place.

Selfishness can be really painful. When it’s born of grief I have a really hard time telling people to stop obsessing over their own suffering, to stop believing it is all about them, all of the time, and yet that really is the fastest way out of that pain. That is genuine empathy, the kind that actually speaks the truth and rips the band-aid off quickly.