Nothing happens without God’s permission.
That, from my present understanding, means that all the bad stuff that happens during our life has been signed off on by Almighty God Himself.
Modern-day Gentile Christianity has been trying to assure me throughout my life that any suffering is only temporary— that Jesus is due back at any moment and then things will be better… with the added provision that even if Jesus doesn’t come back (mainstream Christianity insists that he will) while we’re alive, we have the assurance that in the afterlife we’ll be with Jesus— whether in heaven, as most modern-day Christians expect, or in a paradise Earth after we are resurrected someday, as some sects of modern-day Gentile Christianity assert)… someday soon, of course.
Either way, we’ve got better days ahead, if we but believe it to be true.
Non-believers, I suspect, would call this wishful thinking and idealism.
I’ve lived long enough to learn that I’m a glass half-empty person when it comes to the world around me.
Molested several times by a person in my neighborhood when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade back in the thrilling days of America’s bicentennial, introduced to the unspeakable pain and lifelong shame of being forcibly penetrated by a grown man aroused from the violence I couldn’t begin to process in my 7 or 8 year-old mind.
I spent the first 16 years of my life in a home of abuse at the hands of a bitter and angry woman, scourged and flogged for any inexplicable and irrational reason, and living on the streets not long after I had one of those fight-or-flight moments I’d had countless times before throughout my childhood… and I faced this horrible woman who had been a terrifying giant to me all my life. I said, “No,” for the first time in my life.
But by then, between the molestation when we lived in Lake Odessa, around 1976, along with the unseen bruises and scars on my perception of relationships and worldview, I saw the world as a dark and scary place where people were not to be trusted.
My choices and decisions in the years to follow my 17th birthday had their own far-reaching consequences, some with devastatingly life-altering impacts, to my utter shame in the autumn of this life I have been given.
I lost a great deal of the idealism I once had, having lived to discover that my fears about the world being a dark and terrible place were well-founded.
By God’s permission, babies are scraped into sinks daily and with every passing moment, especially here in the United States where I reside.
Every day, children like I had been are molested and assaulted by strangers and parents and appointed men in Christian churches and organizations.
Worse, I’ve lived to see that the Christians who claim the loudest to be true Christians prove it when they shelter molesters while shaming the victims into “waiting on Jehovah.” At long last, at least the Roman Catholic Church seems to be getting the message when it comes to the unacceptability of child sexual abuse and exploitation yet it remains to be seen if brings the closure we victims vainly crave in “Jehovah’s visible organization” known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Every day, spouses are physically and emotionally abused— often in front of children. I’ve lived long enough to have seen that.
Every day, people are— if not murdered or stricken with disease— left bereft of the things they need to survive.
Every day, so many bad things happen on such a scale and to such an atrocity that to actually contemplate it would exceed our reason’s capacity.
All of it taking place with Sovereign God’s permission. And by all rights, He is God— so unless someone can alter His Will’s fulfillment…
Still, any suffering endured in this life will be forgotten in the next— according to what I’ve been told and expected to believe since I was a child who began to learn about God, Jesus, and the Bible.
This expectation of going to heaven or living forever here on Earth is the hope that is supposed to see me through this life… and make me feel better about all the badness taking place all around me, in this life as well as outside my life— out there in the big, scary world.
Tell that to the child whose suffering is so evident in the image seen at the outset.
Tell that to the child watching their mother getting the beat-down from their father enough times that reasons no longer mattered: this is normal from the child’s perspective.
Tell them that Jesus is there with that child, do not be afraid.
Just stand there and do nothing, just tell the mother as she’s being smacked around that Jesus will be back soon, hang in there. Wait on Jehovah and He will set matters straight.
One year passes… then five… ten… in certain cases, a lifetime of this abuse is endured, long after the children have left home— or, more often than not, ran away from home… out of the frying pan and into the fire in too many cases… if not exploited, then in their own troubled, abusive relationships as broken adults.
Mainstream Christianity started pushing its “WWJD” (What would Jesus do?) message some years back, where individuals are to ask themselves in various situations what Jesus would do in this situation.
So, what would Jesus do when he found himself forcibly bent over a bed so a grown man could force his adult-sized penis into a child-sized anus, the only reprieve to be found in what size dollop of Vaseline the adult used?
I guess I should be grateful that the guy used Vaseline or a handful of spit— but I’m a glass-half-empty person.
Listen: I’m not trying to be heretical or offensive or blasphemous; I’m sure some will still think so because I’ve lived long enough to see that, too.
Could I have couched the above in language that would be easier for the more delicate reader to swallow?
Alright: What would Jesus do when he found himself being raped by a grown man who made sure that Jesus understood that if Jesus so much as breathed a word of this violation, the assailant would first kill Jesus’ mother as he watched, and then his brothers, and finally him?
Such attempts by modern-day Gentile Christianity fall flat with me because they do not meet with the realities of my life and experiences.
And I hear other believers saying the very same thing: things are getting worse on the world scene— acting as a self-fulfilling prophecy that the imminence of Jesus’ second coming is even more imminent, if that’s even possible.
Confirmation that the glass, indeed, is half-full, just like I’m perceiving.
I just can’t help but ask: if Jesus was there as I was being raped, and I’m supposed to ask myself “What would Jesus do” as I’m being raped, then why didn’t Jesus stop the rape?
Why stand by when even a craven, fallen sinner like I’ve turned out to be would feel compelled to do something about it… to say “Stop!”
To put the animal down and comfort the child.
I was repeatedly raped as a child over a summer or two (I’ve spent so long trying to forget that atrocity that I can’t recall how long it went on other than multiple times around 1976-77 when my family lived in Lake Odessa) but others endure for years— into their young adulthood.
All of it takes place with God’s permission.
All of it takes place with Jesus alongside us.
That is what I have been told to believe since I started learning about God, Jesus, and the Bible.
I can understand why we have atheists living among us.
I’d like to think that even an atheist would’ve stopped my rapist, as they would if they saw any other child being raped… or human being, for that matter.
That seems pretty significant to me, but even so, atheism falls flat for me because while an atheist rejects the suggestion that there’s an Almighty God (etc), I don’t see much from them in righting all the wrongs of my day, either.
American society, as I’ve lived to witness it, doesn’t exactly go out of its way to help those living in poverty to an extent that would lift those less fortunate out of that poverty… medical care exceeds the capacity of a growing number of fully-employed families to afford… famine and drought make token appearances in American awareness, never mind the countless other ways that, rather than better humanity that has allegedly grown beyond any need for tribal gods and hokey religions built on myths and legends and half-truths, men have sought and found new ways to dominate other men to those men’s injury.
I watch as stock markets, Hollywood studios, and professional sportspeople boast of the millions they take in, affording them the best foods, housing, and healthcare available in this country.
And I marvel at a society that gives them the money instead of re-investing it in humanity itself, in ending poverty and raising the quality of living, in ending the debates of many homes that I’ve known and know of now: do I pay the rent or buy food for my family? How do I keep paying for my medications? And other similar dilemmas.
Nobody seems as interested as they say they are in making the world a better place for everyone.
Still, we like to say that we would or could do a better job than God when it came to how things are and where they seem to be going.
I’ve certainly thought that at various times, part and parcel to my being a struggling believer, I suppose.
The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t do a better job, because we aren’t doing a better job at it, taking a Sovereign God out of the equation entirely.
So what’s the point? What hope is there?
That I’ll get to live forever in heaven with the same Jesus who stood by and did nothing as I was molested? Or as I was humiliated and beaten by my mother for years?
How exactly am I supposed to process that?
Again, I’m not trying to be offensive or speak blasphemously.
But it has been coming up on 2,000 years since the followers of Jesus were told that Jesus was coming soon.
Should I follow the party line of mainstream Christianity and tell the next child that finds themselves molested, the next spouse about to be abused, the next husband who despairs at what will happen to his family now that his employer closed up shop and took the profits with them, tell the myriad of other humans suffering travesty and tragedy to just hang in there “for a little while longer”?
How much comfort should I suppose that will provide them?
How much comfort would it give me?
I have to say, it isn’t all that difficult to become agnostic in the face of such weak, convoluted and vain assurances of false hope promoted by the Christian groups I’ve associated with throughout my lifetime to this writing.
I don’t take issue with the reality that what happens happens with the permission of a Sovereign God. Nor do I feel entitled to an explanation from God about His Will: He’s God, and that establishes an authority I see reflected in the reality of my life: initially through parents, who have the last say in what their child may or may not do, then teachers in school, and on to employers and leaders.
And I’d like to believe that better times are ahead… but that hasn’t borne out through the experience which makes up my life, and therefore falls outside of the reality I know.
Things continue to seem to worsen from my skewed perspective of the glass being half-empty rather than half-full… simply because my glass seems to always be half-empty, with days passing precariously between crises and unanticipated situations and struggling to make ends meet.
As a result, my compulsion to want to believe that the “end is near” has been overpowering at times; the alternative bears too much fruitage of futility to spend long entertaining.
The belief that no more bad things will happen to people at some vague moment in the coming days, weeks… at most, months! has always offered me the fast-food version of a fleeting comfort, but clearly a false and vain comfort, given the fact that nearly half a century has now passed since I started learning about God, Jesus, and the Bible, and the hope to live in heaven (or here on the planet, Earth), and nearly 2,000 years from when the first century believers seem to have been told the second coming was due at any second, that it was the last hour, even!
I have two choices, it seems: keep telling myself, keep trying to convince myself that all this pain, misery, and suffering will be wrapped up “soon” and hang in there… hoping that even if it doesn’t happen during my lifetime in spite of being and living convinced that it will… that some day I’ll be resurrected when it does finally happen someday, or that I’ll go off to heaven and live with Jesus happily ever after, blissfully unbothered by the continued pain, suffering, and misery of those I leave behind through death…
Or try to figure out where I went wrong with my expectations, what I’d been told… led to believe that has been proven wrong time and again for the last 2,000 years.
And maybe, just maybe, find a real reason for a real hope in the face of the realities self-evident in the world around me which take place according to a Sovereign God’s Will.
— Timothy B. Kline / October 1, 2019