Not My Hometown’s Gospel

September marks five years since I left Georgia. Most of my Facebook friends are still from back home. Of those “hometown friends,” many of them are from the church I grew up in. I don’t go home often enough to keep in touch, but it wasn’t until a conversation today, I realized my belief of who God is has changed.

On any given day, I can scroll on my newsfeed and see people charismatically speaking things over their lives. I’m not against a godly exhortation or prophetic exhortation. I just remember often times sharing my brokenness with people and being met with a good ol’ “encouraging word” or reminding me that my negative thinking and speaking got me feeling so low. Those actions painted a picture of God for me, that I have quietly dismissed for a while, but now openly reject. It’s my hometown gospel.

In this gospel, this god wasn’t concerned whether, I was genuinely okay. He was so busy trying to fix me, He never knew how broken I was. He was more concerned about actions and less concerned about me. He looked on the outward appearance, but not on the heart. Most frighteningly, He was a god who was not able to handle how bad things can actually get. Who was not ready to see my shambles. One who kept telling me about if I just had a better perspective, I’d be better.

This is a rather cruel gospel, and not a god worth serving at all.

I look at Jesus, remembering He is God. I am amazed at how he handles human suffering. The recognition He offers to the woman with the issue of blood. The weeping He does with Mary at Lazarus’s grave. The care He provides, His mother at the foot of the cross. The concern he has for the widow whose son died. The way he creatively deals with blindness on three separate occasions. Jesus was mindful of suffering. Dealing with each person individually and personally.

God gets my shambles. He doesn’t slap me with a, “Buck up Buttercup”. He joins me in them. I think that is part of redemption. I don’t have to face the worst of life alone. Instead, I believe in a God who has faced the worst of life and can lead me in the valley and the shadow of death. Who mindfully hears and understands my shambles and responds individually and personally…

I don’t know where these thoughts have come from. I welcome them after a season of sorrow. To end a song that has been a generous reminder of God’s great love in the midst of my shambles and doubt.

He knows the name of my sorrows

He knows the names of my fears

Why should I let them bother me

For I know that He is near