Recently, a pretty popular pastor in my hometown, Dallas, posted a status that basically said that we can question God but not challenge God. I read and re-read that status because I was intrigued. First, on some level, I felt like there wasn’t really a difference. I know that there is a difference between, let’s say, your child questioning you and your child challenging you. One would likely get a less gracious response than the other. However, when talking about the almighty, it seems like anything that us mere mortals would ask would be seen as a challenge to the sovereignty, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience that we are all taught that God has.
I deal with anxiety, panic disorder, and depression. The anxiety and panic are things that I’ve dealt with since I was a young child. The depression, I guess, may be a product of the vicissitudes of adult life. It actually began in my late teens and after a bad divorce and two monumental deaths within 2 years, it started to really show itself strong in my life. Most days I can fight it. Some days are much harder than others though.
I’ve had Christians say that they are praying for me or will pray for me and I appreciate the gesture; I really do. I mean, if someone has a connection to any deity, I’d never try to disabuse them of their belief in it. Being Black, it’s rare to meet other people who are also Black and aren’t subscribed to some type of Judeo-Christian belief system. That system is usually Christianity. You have the Pentecostals, the Baptists, the AMEs and the CMEs. You have the 7th Day Adventists, Church of Christ, and even the Catholics. Let’s face it: Black people luuuuuurve Jesus.
And I get it. I don’t argue like a Hotep about why Black people love Jesus. We all know about colonialism. We all know about Africans being stripped of their native religions. I don’t really see a point in rehashing that part of the story.
But, I do have a question: when do we make God prove himself?
Black people give God, and by extension Jesus, a lot of credit. Woke up? God. Legs work? God. Have shelter? God. Have food? God. Have water? God. Have a job? God. Feeling better from a recent illness? God.
I’ve started to wonder though, for Black people, does the standard ever get any higher? If a normal parent fed their kids, provided shelter for them, and gave them medicine or took them to the doctor when they were sick, we wouldn’t do back flips and give rounds of applause. We’d say that’s what parents should do for their children. In fact, we’d say that a parent who doesn’t do that for their children should have their children removed from them because the children are being neglected.
So, if God is the father and we are his children, why do we become enthralled with the basics that we presume he gives us? Further, when you look at the state of Black people all over the globe, why aren’t we asking more of him? Why aren’t we asking him to prove up?
Why is it considered blasphemy or disrespectful on an epic level to even suggest it?
Many of us were taught or told that when you ask God for something or to do something on your behalf, the answers are either yes, no, or wait. But, what if that’s unsatisfactory? When someone needs help, is it fair to tell them, “Well, God loves you so you should take your concern to him buuuuuut, he may or may not help you. Or….he might help you, he just may make you wait a little while.”
The last time I was seriously in mental upheaval, I asked my ancestors to give me peace no matter what happened. They did almost immediately. The next day, when I woke up, that peace was still there. When I got one of the worst phone calls of the year an hour later, the peace remained.
But, instead of sounding like the loving benevolent father that Christians sell on tracts, it sounds like dealing with God is a bureaucratic process almost as bad as trying to get social services or an explanation of benefits from your insurance company. Who could possibly be expected to hold on and endure, in faith, if that’s the best they can get in their time of need? And what happens when that time of need extends past a couple of days, or a couple of weeks and becomes months or years of trial? When the weight becomes more than the muscles and sinews of a person’s spirit can take and they still have no answer? The elders say to “be still.” But, what do you do when you’re dying in the midst of your obedient stillness?
Though I like to think myself wise (most of the time), I have no answer to these questions. I will say that it seems like a maze, at times. I’m an outsider, but looking in, it can seem like a game and the worst kind of game – an unwinnable one that many people are too afraid to opt out of (cause of hell and all). On top of that, it seems like an abusive game. If “yes,” “no,” or “wait” is the best that seekers have to look forward to, what’s it all worth?