The Inconvenient God

Christ on the Cross (detail) by Velazquez

“What should I say to my friend who lost her husband?  He just died of a heart attack and she’s lost her faith in God.” 

“Sorry to hear this,” I said, “maybe the funeral won’t be the time to consol her with words.  Just being there will speak for you.”

“I understand, however, she will start complaining about God again and knows I’m still active in my Catholic faith.  She often challenges me by saying she didn’t leave God, God left her.”

“What does she mean?  Didn’t her husband just die?  Sounds to me like her comment applies to the past?”

“It does, she was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago and lost her mother to brain cancer at the same time.  She doesn’t understand how a loving God could let this happen.”

“That is a tough one.  Well, maybe she’ll come around with you by her side. Hang in there, keep praying for her.”

* * * * *

This was a conversation I had with a lady in Church who approached me after a Bible study.   It seemed very common for people to blame God for personal tragedy but I didn’t really know how to respond.   My 14 year old son was waiting for me while this lady talked and he listened to the encounter, possibly struck by her tears.   But as we walked out of the Church, he turned to me and asked me something simple but profound.

“Dad, why do people blame God for bad things, but not credit God for good things?  It doesn’t seem to make sense.  This lady survived cancer but, instead of being happy she lost her faith.”

I was impressed with his clear thinking.  Sometimes adults seem to confuse life principles and children see things clearly.   Let’s think about this one.

If we take time to account for a lifetime of blessings, everything we’re thankful for and give credit and glory to our Lord, on balance, why do we quickly lose perspective when things don’t go our way?  It reminds me of the footprints in the sand poem.  When two tracks in the sand turn into one, we blame God for leaving us when in reality he was carrying us.   Tragedy happens in life and our faith will be challenged, but isn’t that the beauty of having a God to lean on in times of trouble?   Like Paul McCartney’s lyrics, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”

Let us pray for the strength to endure hard times to come, that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Pray for the gift of our faith freely given by the Lord.   Pray that we can share with others the unconditional love given to us.  Pray for His consolation and support to people like this lady who feel alone.

Let us pray…


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About the Author

Mike Carlton was born in Buffalo, NY. He married his college sweetheart Laurie and has six children. They were married in Ohio in 1991 and live in a suburb of Atlanta, GA. He is the son of the former NFL football star Wray Carlton. Mike currently works as the Global Vice President of MiMedx, a worldwide orthopedic biologics company in medical devices.

He graduated in 1989 from Miami University, Oxford OH with a B.S degree in Marketing and studied in the M.B.A program at Xavier University, Cincinnati OH. He earned an archdiocesan Catechetical Teaching Certificate for the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2003.

Mike was raised Presbyterian and converted to the Catholic Church in 2002. In 2003, he started the apologetics ministry called “Why Catholic” at his parish, St. Peter Chanel, Roswell GA. In addition, Mike and Laurie help start, with Deacon Mike Bickerstaff, MAC “Marriages Are Covenants”, a ministry outreach program of the Integrated Catholic Life for married couples. He has been interviewed on the Sacred Heart Radio Program, the “Deep in Scripture” program on EWTN radio, and has been an invited guest on the “Journey Home” television program on EWTN. A popular speaker, Mike has given his conversion talk around the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

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