“My anger served as an iron shield, and I refused to remove it for fear God would send me still more pain.” (Grapevine – May 1997)
The above quote, from a favorite little magazine of mine, reveals one of those non-true truisms that sting. It expresses an image of God that so many of us carry around throughout our lives. It suggests that this so-called loving, compassionate God will zap us if we let our guard down…in the name of punishment, growth, whatever our theology source teachers us. I have thought of the iron shield as a protective ego that we create to help us survive in this world. The problem is that what may protect us from being hurt may also keep us from being open to love.
Many of us are taught that God will protect us from harm (remember that passage in the Bible – put on the armor of God?), yet life teaches us otherwise. So we walk around all tense, speaking about and trying to believe something that deep down we know isn’t true. We don’t dare admit to others or even ourselves that we don’t really trust God. In a way, atheists have a better idea. By denying the existence of God, they don’t have to be disappointed.
The passage above implies that we can change our thinking about God. We don’t have to believe that pain comes from God. We don’t even have to know pain’s origin, but we can choose to trust God, not because he is going to protect us from all harm, but because God will be with us in all things. Pain happens, but it is a comfort to know that Someone will go into dark places with us.