CHAPTER 6: GOD, HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?!

CHAPTER 6: GOD, HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Presents Teens Talkin' Faith

Chapter Six

GOD, HOW COULD

YOU LET THIS

HAPPEN?!

. . . GOD IS WAITING PATIENTLY . . .

Have you ever asked God, “How could you let this happen?” I know many teenagers, as well as adults, who have. Sometimes situations occur in our lives that we don’t understand. They can leave us feeling confused, frustrated, or even angry. Occasionally, people blame God for the injustices or cruelties of life. I included this chapter in Teens Talkin’ Faith because I wanted you to know that if you have ever felt angry at God, you are not alone. You will find teen contributors who share that they have felt much the same way. However, I also want you to recognize that God is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to realize that blaming Him for life’s tragedies or frustrations is not the answer. Instead, when you turn to God for guidance and reassurance, He will open your heart and your eyes to understanding, acceptance, and hope.

Mrs. T

HOW CAN A MOTHER, WHO HAS CARED FOR HER CHILD FOR TEN YEARS, JUST WALK AWAY . . .

The events of that Sunday morning in March are still fresh in my mind. We had gone to church like always, where my mom was my Sunday schoolteacher. On this particular Sunday, a friend of mine had come with us. The details aren’t so important, but I remember that the car ride home seemed to take forever. I remember a lot of screaming and yelling between my mom and my dad, and a lot of curse words, too. After that car ride, my mom was gone. I was ten years old, but my mother was gone and starting a new life without me. How can a mother, who has cared for her child for ten years, just walk away one day? I still don’t know.

That was a very traumatic day for me. It turned my life upside-down. I was really depressed, as were my dad and sister. So as my only remaining family, they couldn’t help me. My friends, who were as young and naive as I was, had no idea what to say. I was alone, so I turned to God. The hurt wouldn’t go away, though. I prayed and prayed, but I was still alone. That’s when I stopped depending on God. He let me down. He let something bad happen to me. My faith went straight down the tubes. I was so mad at God. I got new friends who were in the same parental situation as I was in, and I stopped believing. For three years, I was Godless. Whether it was puberty, a new school, or my faithlessness, I had a whole new personality. I changed so much, and mostly for the worst. I didn’t go to church in those three years, nor did I pray. I was lost, and I really didn’t care.

But then last year, I realized that my new life was failing me. It left me empty inside. Slowly, I began to have a desire to find God again. Recently, I have been more complete than since my mom left. It has been a long journey, but I am glad I am not mad at God anymore and that I have Him in my life again.

SHANE, 15

. . . MY LIFE CAME CRASHING TO A HALT . . .

I remember thinking my life was about to be ruined when my parents delivered the “big news.” At that point, I thought God had made a terrible mistake. For all of my life, we had lived in our native country. My whole life was there—my family and friends, my school and my church. I had always imagined us as the family that would never move. That is why, when my mom and dad told my little brother and I that we were leaving, my life came crashing to a halt. The fact that we were leaving our country, too, made it hurt that much more. I was really angry with God at that point. I have heard the sayings, “You can’t always get what you want” and “Life isn’t always fair,” but this was just ridiculous. I felt like God had deserted me. I asked Him, “Why have You abandoned me?”

Too soon, we were packed and ready to hit the agonizingly long journey ahead of us. I really was not looking forward to our new life. Throughout that summer, many thoughts ran through my head. I thought I would never forgive God for this event in my life. I thought I would never see my friends again, and I was sure I was in for the worst.

Once school started, I began to loosen up. The teachers were great, my classmates were nice, and I was actually happy. After getting to know my current best friend, I started feeling guilty for feeling happy because of how mad I had been at God for moving my family. I realized then that God knew I would adapt to my new environment. I know that He has forgiven me for not trusting Him. It was all in His plan for my family and me. This time has become one of the best in my life! I have started high school now, and I love it. What I also love is that my family has never been this close. I have learned that sometimes in life, God might change it up a bit. Instead of getting angry, I should have been patient, because it all turned out wonderfully in the end.

GEMMA, 14

MY HEART BREAKS OVER MY DAD . . .

There was a day this past summer that I will remember for all of my life. My mom explained to me that my dad had cancer. My immediate response was, “There is no God! Where did You go? Why did You let this happen to me?” I was so angry with Him.

As days passed, and I saw my family begin to deal with this diagnosis, I started to see the many blessings in my life. I witnessed my mother’s amazing love for my father, and I saw the medical community work to help my father get the tests he needed and begin treatment. Friends and family began to show their support and love. Cards and prayers of support were overwhelming. We received a letter from someone we didn’t even know. She heard about my dad and wanted us to know that she would pray for him. What unbelievable, unconditional love! I believe now that this love came from the hand of God.

The diagnosis came right before I was to begin my freshman year at a new school that my parents and I were passionate about me attending. As I prepared for school, I realized that God has never left me. He has been by my side all along, even before my dad’s cancer. You see, the past four years my dad has been the one to stay home with me. God blessed me with that. He was with my family when He blessed my mom with the talents and courage that she has to take care of our family. Also, now that I am a student at my new school, I feel supported every day. As I think about these things, I realize there are no coincidences. There is a plan, though sometimes painful, but if we remain faithful and quiet, we will hear the voice of God telling us that He is with us.

For me to have remained angry would have overshadowed all the wonderful things that are my life—the life that God gave me and the plan that He has for me. My heart breaks over my dad, but I know I would rather go through this pain than to never have known or felt my dad’s love. With that in mind, as it says in the Bible, I lean on, trust in, and am confident in the Lord, with all of my heart and mind, and I do not rely on my own insight or understanding. Instead, I try to follow Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

LUKE, 14

I BLAMED GOD FOR ALL THE PAIN . . .

I think God is patient because every time something goes bad or wrong, I usually get angry. When I was little, I would blame God for all the bad and depressing times. I was often depressed and sad because I was adopted when I was a baby, and I just didn’t quite fit in all that well. I had some kids whom I was close to, but it was hard for me to make many friends. Some people made fun of me because of my race, which didn’t make it any easier. I blamed God for all the pain and hurt I had to go through, but later I began to trust Him. Sometimes, I still get depressed, but I just think of all the good things. For example, today I have a loving family, good friends, a house, and lots of other good things to come.

RAGENA, 14

. . . I GOT MAD AT GOD AND STOPPED PRAYING . . .

As I lay in bed thinking about tomorrow, I hear the front door shut. In walks my brother, drunker than ever. He is so loud that he wakes up my parents. I hear them yelling at each other. Then he says something mean and walks out the door. I hear my mom start to cry. Every night we go through the same thing over and over again. Sometimes the pain of knowing what he is doing to himself and the danger he is putting himself in is unbearable. All I want to do is lock myself in my room and cry. But I don’t. I somehow get through it. If only he knew that every night he doesn’t come home, I expect a phone call from the hospital telling us that he is in critical condition. I couldn’t stand to live without him. He had been my role model for so many years, but then he began to change.

About a year ago, I began to pray every night for him, and every Sunday that I went to church I prayed for him. One night, I thought to myself, This isn’t working; what good is this doing? So I got mad at God and stopped praying, but things only got worse. So I decided that maybe, just maybe, if I started praying again, it would get better slowly. Well, ever since I have been praying again, things have gradually gotten better. Before, my brother didn’t even take the word “job” to mind, and now he has one. Even though he still drinks, I think he is getting much better. I used to not believe that God would actually listen to what I had to say, but now I know that He does and He will help. I just hope that one day my brother will see that his drinking is not the way and that he will get some serious help. I can only pray that this day will be soon. God has given me the strength and the hope to deal with my brother and help him through these times. Sometimes I think that when my brother looks at me, he wants to stop drinking, but he can’t because he has gotten himself hooked. I pray that he will find God someday and understand what he is putting himself and our family through.

STEPHANIE, 14

. . . I ACTUALLY BECAME A PRETT Y HARDCORE ATHEIST . . .

My life has been rather different from that of the ordinary American teenager. I was born in South Korea and lived in Pakistan and Russia before settling down in the United States. My father was the CEO of a large company for much of Europe and Asia, and as such, I had no material desires and not much strife. It wasn’t the stereotypical boyhood, filled with Americana, dogs, and bike rides, but it was by no means unhappy. All in all, as a young boy I felt very secure. However, it is precisely when you think that all is going well that things seem to come crashing down around you.

I didn’t have too much of a relationship with God. I went to church every Sunday because my parents wanted me to, I liked the music, and I thought the wine tasted kind of funny. But I was still too young to have a deep emotional connection. Therefore, when my dad declared a family meeting one day and spoke the fateful word “divorce,” instead of turning to God for strength and support, I turned away. I cursed Him. I hated Him. For a boy of ten, life had suddenly lost all meaning. With my dad no longer in the family, our main economic resource was lost, so my mother, my sister, and I were forced to leave Moscow and move to the United States. From the life of economic ease that I had come to expect, I suddenly moved into a smaller house, attended a public school, and experienced problems I hadn’t had before. Throughout all of this, the only role God played for me was that of a scapegoat, someone I could blame for my new hardships. I seemed to hunt for reasons why He couldn’t exist, and I actually became a pretty hardcore atheist. After a few years, my mother remarried, and we moved again. I entered a local middle school there, and I quickly turned depressive and suicidal. Finally, I told my mom of all the problems I was having, and we decided to make a rather ironic decision—for an atheist, that is. We decided that I should leave my secular public school for a private Christian school. Understandably, this rather forced me to reconsider God for the first time in years. It also gave me the chance to look at the person I was and how much I had changed from the happy child I had been before the divorce. It took me most of middle school to make this realization, so I entered high school with the resolution to change and begin with a clean slate. I wanted to live by Scripture and be a good person. The final nail on my atheistic coffin occurred when I went on a school retreat. The love and support I felt there convinced me that God existed and actually had my best interest in mind. After a lot more reflection, I realized that my ordeal had taught me many things about life and proper living. From a spoiled child, I became a man. Although I will readily admit that my trial pales in comparison with others, the lessons learned are just as applicable. God stood by me, loved me, and knew that I would someday stand on my own two feet and thank Him for allowing me to suffer. For in my hardships, I found God.

DONAVAN, 17

. . . I FOUND MYSELF DOUBTING GOD AND BEING VERY ANGRY . . .

My faith in God has always been an important factor in my life, and it has always been very strong. However, last year my beliefs were put to a test. Twelve years of religious school could not prepare me for the gravest experience of my life. Last year, a week before Thanksgiving, my cousin committed suicide. He was sixteen years old, the same age as me. His death came as a complete shock to my entire family. Even though my faith had always been strong, I found myself doubting God and being very angry with Him. I couldn’t believe that the same God who had delivered so many blessings to me previously could tear my life apart by taking someone I loved away from me at such a young age. This was a very difficult, stressful time in my life. I am very lucky to have a family, teachers, and friends who have been supportive through this time. Through a lot of thinking and prayer, my faith in God has been restored. I still feel anger when I think about my cousin, but I have grown to understand that God was not punishing me, and I need His guidance and support to get through these tough times.

JILLIAN, 17

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Remember, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, it is so important to reach out for help. Jillian’s cousin made a choice to take his own life. It was a choice he didn’t have to make. Parents, pastors, counselors, teachers, or family friends would be the best people to talk to, or you could call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

. . . I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY HE HAD TO TAKE AWAY MY MOTHER . . .

When I was little, I knew about God, but I thought the only reason people prayed to Him was when they needed help. I never knew that you could just pray to Him if you were having a bad day and needed someone to listen. I would pray about things like making up with friends after a fight or finding a lost pet. I always made up with friends and I always found my lost pet, so I thought that God was the greatest. Then, when my mom died about four years ago, I was angry with God because I didn’t understand why He had to take away my mother. It wasn’t fair that all my friends had moms and I didn’t. I didn’t think that He was the greatest, and I never prayed anymore.

Four years later, I started to talk to someone about my mom’s death because I was having a hard time with it. She asked me about my faith, and I had no answer. I mean, I still believed in God and heaven, but it wasn’t the same as when I was little. I think I was still really mad at Him. She brought up faith a lot, though, and I always felt weird because I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. Then when she said she would pray for me, it made me think, Why couldn’t I pray for myself? I started to pray to God and asked Him to help me. After that, I felt a little bit more reassurance and comfort. So, I started to pray more often. It started to feel really good. I stopped praying to Him only for help and started just to talk and tell Him what was going on in my life. Although I still miss my mom, I am not angry anymore because now I know God is the greatest!

MARISSA, 15

. . . GOD WAS CARRYING IT FOR ME . . .

Anger is a natural feeling that every person experiences at one time or another. Sometimes we let our anger affect the things that mean the most to us. I remember a point in my life when it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. My best friend was moving away, some close family members were moving too, and a friend of mine took his own life. I was feeling down and very angry at God. It was as if God had gone on a long coffee break and had lost track of time. I didn’t know what to do. Every time I turned to God for answers, something would happen to make the bond between God and me just a little bit weaker. I could not stop thinking that maybe God had just forgotten about me or maybe He did not want me anymore. Had I done something wrong that would make God turn away from me? I needed to find some answers, so I decided to go to my room and just sit and pray. After every time I did this, it seemed like the burden on my shoulders got lighter and lighter. Eventually, it was as if God was carrying it for me. Everything seemed right again. I guess the coffee break was over!

WINN, 17

MY BROTHER WAS ARRESTED TWICE MORE . . .

My older brother and I had been pretty close. We used to go to youth group and just hang out. I had always been very strong in my faith and had recently been baptized. One night, I was holding my brother’s jacket when a packet of cigarettes fell out. I was shocked. I wondered why my brother was smoking and why he was hiding it. After that, my brother started getting into bad stuff. I asked God to help my brother to stop and to help me be strong. On my brother’s seventeenth birthday, he went out with some friends. My parents asked him to be home by 11:00. At two in the morning, I heard my mom crying. I got up, and she told me that my brother had been arrested for use of marijuana, driving under the influence, and curfew violation. I was so upset. How could God let this happen to him? I wondered how He could let my brother do something so bad.

After that, I started to get mad at God, and I turned away from Him. My brother was arrested twice more. I was so mad at God, I could barely stand it. Then I started talking to my youth pastor. He helped me to realize that maybe God was showing me that sometimes people just make poor choices and that these choices have consequences. I then understood that this is why my brother had been arrested, and it wasn’t God’s fault. I learned that God didn’t deserve my blame, and I began to trust Him again.

DANIELLE, 14

“T ” TALK

The summer of Amanda’s eighth-grade year was awesome. She and her friends spent tons of time together, and they always had fun. Her family was close, and she got along with her parents remarkably well. But what inspired Amanda most that summer was her relationship with God. She said, “It was the best!” Anytime she was alone, she spent time talking to God. Amanda loved to pray and delighted in her weekly youth group. She valued her faith, her family, and her life.

But when school started, Amanda’s perspective shifted. She said everything changed—her looks, personality, friends, family, and especially her relationship with God. Amanda felt that her friends had turned on her, and rumors were being spread about her that weren’t true. To compound that, school was more difficult than it had been in the past, and her grades dropped. It seemed like everybody was on her case, especially her parents, and Amanda began to feel that her life was worthless. As the stresses in her life became overwhelming, Amanda turned away from God. Instead of spending her time alone, praying as she had done in the past, Amanda became consumed with thoughts of suicide. Each night she would think about how she would end her life, telling herself that everyone would be happier if she was gone. She knew deep down that suicide wasn’t the answer to her problems, but she was so focused on herself and her needs that she couldn’t see beyond to the hope of the future.

In addition, she blamed the one to whom she later realized she should have been turning. Amanda was intensely angry with God. She accused Him repeatedly, saying, “God, why do You let me feel this hurt? Why are You doing this to me? I can’t believe You, God. All my problems are Your fault!” As Amanda’s anger at God grew, so did her plans to take her life. On the night that she had promised herself she would end her life, Amanda was alone in her room. Suddenly, she felt someone grab her, but when she turned to see who it was, no one was there. With that, she fell to the floor, sobbing. Amanda finally understood that she didn’t want to end her life; she just wanted her problems to go away. Mostly, Amanda felt enlightened by an unfailing belief that it was God who stopped her. Amanda eventually realized that God was with her the whole time. He didn’t want her to die, and He knew that deep down inside she didn’t want to take her life either.

Amanda came to understand that had she turned to God with her problems instead of blaming Him for the trials in her life, He could have guided and comforted her. Amanda’s youth pastor helped her to understand that it wasn’t God who had turned on her; it was Amanda who had shut herself off from God. Yet, God accepted Amanda’s anger. Perhaps He shows such mercy because He can identify. Remember the account in the gospel where Jesus goes into the temple of God and overturns the tables of those who were using such a holy place to buy and sell goods? When I think of someone overturning tables, I imagine rage. I assume Jesus was angry that the house of His Father was being used for trade instead of prayer, worship, and healing. So, although Amanda shunned God and placed the anger toward her life situation on Him, God understood. He waited patiently while Amanda figured this out, and, as she learned, He never left her side.

Perhaps you have experienced a time in your life when you have been angry with God. If so, know that you are not alone. Like any situation in which there is pain and heartache, it is typical to try to place the blame for the injustice on a specific entity. Often, that entity is God. It is quite common to blame God for life’s inequities. After all, we frequently blame Him because we believe in Him. The wonderful thing about God is that He loves us so much that He is willing to take the blame. But, really, He doesn’t deserve it. It is true that there are many things that happen in our lives that don’t seem fair. For example, if someone we love gets cancer, it just doesn’t seem right. We feel fearful and angry, and God is a perfect target for our outrage. However, I don’t believe He caused the cancer. Nor do I presume that God wants to see us in physical or emotional pain. I do believe, though, that our time on this Earth is a personal and spiritual journey in which we grow from everything that we experience. I think that God can use the situations in our lives to teach us valuable lessons.

For example, during spring break of my sister Jaime’s sophomore year in college, she and some classmates traveled to Mexico for a week of missionary work. They had worked all year planning for the event and were very excited. Following their arrival, they worked together the first few days to build homes for people who lived there, in addition to providing other missionary services. Each morning they would get up, share a breakfast together, and then pile into the few cars they had to get to the worksites. In the small amount of spare time they had, they took time to pray, sing praises, and have fun! One day, while traveling to that day’s destination, one of the vehicles carrying five students was hit head-on by another car. Three kids were killed. These teenagers were on a mission, doing God’s work, and they were killed. It just didn’t make sense to me. My sister and the others spent the next few days dealing with the tragedy and finishing their work.

When I spoke with Jaime after the accident, I asked her if she was mad at God. I felt mad at Him, and I didn’t even know these kids. Why not be angry? They were in Mexico doing missionary work. How could God let them die? What kind of thanks is that? Of course, I just assumed that my sister would be angry, too. But she had a different perspective. She said that they had all experienced a variety of feelings, but anger was not one of them. More than anything, Jaime said, there was an overwhelming sense of mercy and compassion that encircled them. They had come to Mexico to help several families build homes. Yet after the accident, it was the families they had come to help who comforted, supported, and guided them. Roles reversed, and despite the sadness and grief experienced by all, love and compassion prevailed. As tragic as the accident was, God was able to teach the missionary students a valuable life lesson through the kindness of the Mexican families.

Frequently, though, when such tragedies happen, it is easier to blame God than to try to understand what can be learned from the situation. It is important to know, however, that anger often is just a variable mask that guards our heart from the fear, confusion, or sadness that is lingering in our midst. Sometimes it is simpler to get angry than to accept other such emotions that hurt so deeply. Eventually, though, it is important that we identify what we are actually feeling so we can deal with those emotions and learn from our life experiences. Part of God’s awesome humility is demonstrated when He accepts our misplaced anger and patiently waits for us to figure out what we are truly feeling.

Finally, when we stop being angry at God, we can open our hearts to His guidance, and with His help we can deal with our adversities. Like Amanda learned, when we lose perspective and become consumed with anger, sometimes it is essential to seek the guidance of someone who can give us a new outlook. In addition to God, Amanda’s youth pastor helped her see her situation in a different light. Pastors, as well as parents, teachers, friends, counselors, or any trusted adult, can provide objective guidance that may redirect our thoughts, lighten our load, and give us a more positive attitude.

It is also essential to understand that, although it may be normal to blame God or become angry with Him, we should ask ourselves, “What kind of choice was made that led to this ultimate outcome?” For instance, perhaps someone chose to drink before they got behind the wheel of a car, resulting in a fatal accident. This type of situation isn’t God’s fault; it is a human choice. Yet even if the fault lies with a specific individual, if we harden our hearts and become angry and unforgiving, the one we hurt the most is ourselves. I suppose we hurt God, too, because there is no room for love in anger and blame. God tells us in the Bible that without love, we are nothing. He says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. I pray that in the future, when you feel angry, you will open your heart to God and let His love fill your soul.

Mrs. T

AUTHOR’S NOTE: If needed, please take time to turn to Appendix II at the end of the book for additional referral services for grief and loss, suicide, living with an addict, and more.

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