Today, this passed through my newsfeed:
The proceeding comments fascinated me: “This is why I’m an atheist,” “It’s just something people say to make themselves feel better.” And the one that took my breath away: “After my father was murdered, I heard this phrase all the time. I finally told someone if it was true, I needed a new religion.”
It came on the heels of a stressful conversation earlier today, a conversation that reminded me just how deep and far the fissures of damaging religion can spread. Years ago a dear friend was in an abusive relationship. When she asked her church leaders for help, they repeatedly supported her husband’s behavior and encouraged her to “confront her own sin” and “cling to her marriage.” As a result, my friend escaped through alcohol. She is sober now, but the experience cost her custody of her children, other relationships, and years of her life.
Is that really what God had planned for her life? For her children’s lives?
Or the church shootings this week. Do we really believe God intended a young boy to become so full of hate he would murder innocent people in a sacred place?
In my heart I hear a resounding no. No way. God did not plan for my friend to walk that awful road. He did not map out a path for church leaders to foster abuse. God did not intend for anyone to be gunned down this week. In the comment thread above, God does not have a blueprint that includes the murder of that woman’s father. God doesn’t work that way.