A few years back I was at a popular Baptist church in Minneapolis, and the pastor was talking about how God is responsible for everything, good and bad.
I don’t remember everything he said, but one line has stuck with me. He said, yelling more than talking, “If you get shot on your way home from church, God got you shot.”
That claim really disturbed me.
By his teaching, I had depression because God gave me depression.
And I have anxiety because God gave me anxiety.
You could extrapolate his teaching further and say that people have cancer because God gives them cancer, and genocides happen because God makes them happen, and young girls get sold into slavery because God gets them sold into slavery.
Some people call this “sovereignty.”
But I just don’t think it’s true.
When I had depression, God was giving me hope. He was extending love. And ultimately he brought healing.
In my anxiety, God has been alongside me, fighting with me, comforting me, speaking truth to me.
He has not been the one making me anxious. He has not been fighting against himself, helping me heal while also hurting me, speaking truth while distorting reality.
I don’t think God breaks and sets our bones at the same time.
He is not punching us with one hand and comforting the bruises with the other.
He is not binding our wounds while stabbing us.
Our world is fucked up. But God isn’t the one fucking things up.
He’s the one repairing.
He’s not the one selling people into slavery.
He’s the one freeing.
I never went back to that church. They were teaching an abusive and bullying God, but God isn’t abusive and he isn’t a bully.
He is for you. And in your pain and difficulties and confusion, he’s fighting alongside you, caring for you, working to make things right and good and beautiful.
God isn’t the one getting you shot. He’s the one taking the bullets.