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I’m Afraid of God: on Sacrifice, Pain, and the Sovereignty of God

Have you ever been afraid of God? I have.

I am afraid of God.

I live my faith-life in Calvinist circles, where they (we?) believe in what they call the sovereignty of God. They believe that unless God has His hand in every single thing that happens, He cannot be God. Many of them take great comfort in the knowing that everything that happens in their life, the good, the painful, and the evil, is “God-ordained” – allowed by Him.

But it isn’t comforting to me.


If God really will do anything to make his name great (the phrase repeated over and over in the Bible is “for the sake of my name”)…


if God really is in control of every single thing that happens…

that freaks me out.

It means that God allowed the disabilities and deformities and malfunctions of my daughter’s body and allowed her to suffer and die young.

It means God allowed the issues my son faces today.

It means that God could allow him to die young too.

I’m afraid that I will have to bury more of my children.

I expect adults to die. I expect to outlive my husband. On both our sides of the family women far outlive men.

I don’t expect children to die. I don’t want to believe that God asks that of me.

Some of you will say that it doesn’t matter whether I believe it or not – my believing or denying won’t change the truth. That’s when I feel like a trantruming toddler. I stomp my foot and say, “You can’t prove it, and you can’t make me.” Real mature, I know.

This weekend at the Relevant Conference Ann Voskamp challenged us to reject the lure of fame. She called on us to share our stories for the purpose of encouraging one another and making God known, not for the purpose of increasing our platform or making ourselves known.

She said some very hard things. She said that we don’t blog on a platform, we blog on an altar, and God asks us to sacrifice everything for Him on that altar.

It’s easy to nod your head and say “amen” when you’ve never done it, when you don’t know how agonizing it will be.

I know. I’ve been stuck on that altar for eleven and a half years. It is wretched. Sometimes I’m not a willing sacrifice. Sometimes I’m angry and bitter. Sometimes I’m afraid. Lately, I want to know if it is enough. Have I given enough? Please?

But I listen to Ann, because she knows, too. She has lived it. She lives it still. If you’ve read her book, you know that she has faced soul-scalding pain. Yet she can proclaim to the world that God is good and that God redeems that pain and makes beauty of it.

I wish I could do that. Right now, all I can manage is a ragged gasped-out prayer for help to love God enough that I can be willing to give everything. I cling to the hope that God will redeem our pain, and that behind all the suffering is a God who loves.

Where do you find comfort when you suffer? How do you respond to the teaching of the sovereignty of God?

Today I’m counting gifts #546-550 from the weekend with friends, and especially for the challenge from Ann. Linking to her Multitudes on Mondays post.

P.S. Don’t forget to share your latest life: unmasked post at the link-up here every Wednesday.


Sponsor a child in Bolivia with World Vision

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