There is so much to be bitter about. This week I lay awake at night with images of Aylan Kurdi searing their way into my soul. Aylan is the 3 year old Syrian refugee who drowned before he could reach Canada. You’ve seen the pictures. And lurking behind these devastating images is the certain knowledge that there are thousands more whose names we will never know. Whose images we will never see. I’m bitter. Bitter. I choose that word carefully. There is sadness, yes, but anger too. I’m angry at our global community for failing Aylan and all the countless others. I’m angry at myself for doing nothing to stop this refugee crisis, to put an end to war.
I’m angry at God.
How could you let this happen God? How could you let the world you love get so messed up?
I used to feel like getting angry with God wasn’t an option. Like it made me a bad Christian (and definitely a bad Mennonite). I’m discovering though, that the bible is full of people who are angry at God! And not just the baddies either.
Like Naomi in the book of Ruth. She is a refugee too. Naomi’s husband dies, and then both her sons die and she is left alone in a foreign country. A widowed women in a world where security comes from men. And you better believe Naomi is angry at God. Bitter. She actually starts calling herself by the name Mara (bitter in Hebrew)!
Call me no longer Naomi, call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the LORD has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me? (Ruth 1:20-21).
Naomi blames God for all the trouble she has encountered. She does not give up on God when life is at its worst. Not at all. She gets angry at God, and that’s a different thing altogether. Naomi believes in a God that is big enough to deal with her anger. That is a faithful bitterness.
So, like Naomi, today I am letting myself be faithfully bitter. To be angry at God for all that is heartbreaking in this world.
And when I’ve let myself be bitter for a while (a good long while mind you, we can’t rush these things), the bitterness might start to lift. I will reach out and see who is doing something about this current crisis. And when I see the passionate people who dedicate their lives and their dollars to supporting the rights of refugees and bringing an end to war, I might see that God is doing wonderful work in the world. Even in our times of faithful bitterness. Especially in our times of faithful bitterness. I might even join this wonderful work.
But for today? I’m bitter. Call me Mara.