Is a bad God better than none?

Photo (c) Yasmin Robinson

Tim Ouyang leaned over the microphone, stared past the stage lights into the shadowed crowd, and spoke with pain in his voice.

The young Japanese man was diagnosed two years ago with a degenerative disease that slowly eats away at his vocal chords. A gifted singer and lead vocalist of his namesake band Tim Be Told, Tim knew that the diagnosis could mean the end of his musical career, the end of his ability to use his gift.

He was angry. Really angry. As a self-proclaimed Christian musician, wasn’t God on his side? Wouldn’t God heal him? Wouldn’t God let him continue to sing? He was singing songs about God, right? Didn’t God like that? Didn’t God want to hear songs of praise?

He fell on his knees in prayer. Days turned into weeks; weeks turned into months; months, to years. Two years down, going on three. And the healing hadn’t come.

Tim had been told that God was good. That God was the healer of all things. That God had gifted His children bring Him glory. Sure. Right. A good God would continue to let him suffer and let his only dream comeĀ  to an end. That’s not a good God.

In his bitterness, he penned a deceptively soft piano ballad:

You say You are jealous
You say You are kind
But the ‘jealous part’ seems to win all the time
If You’re so mighty, why do you break
The weak and the weary, and see what they make

You say You’re forgiving
That You’ll not forsake
But You punched me out when I made a mistake
I try to find beauty in the mess that You made
But You just stayed angry and never forgave

Yes, I know You are great
But is a bad God better than none?
How much more will it take to undo the damage that You have done?
‘Cause the wicked and wayward continue to thrive
And the martyrs continue giving their lives
Oh, the faithful never never survive
Oh, the faithful never never survive

You’re the almighty, so I am afraid
You crushed me to pieces, then stole what I made
If this hopeless delusion is a righteous man’s fate
I don’t know how much more I can take

His brow creased, his fingers sweaty, his shoulders tense – the anguish was finally released.

At a recording session weeks later, Tim was halfway complete with the song when a conviction seized him. He stopped. Took his hands off the piano keys. Leaned into the microphone and mumbled a last-minute request to the producer.

“…hope that is seen is no hope at all.” Romans 8:24

Life wasn’t hopeless.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

He had to rewrite the ending.

God are You listening?
Please hear my cry
I don’t really believe You’re more cruel than You’re kind
But I’m getting tired of repeating this line
That the faithful never survive

Yes, I know You are great
That You’re a good God, and You are love
How much more can I take to undo the damage that I have done?
Please conquer these demons and the darkness inside
Shine Your light on this poor heart of mine
Maybe my faith will survive
Maybe my faith will survive
Maybe my faith will survive


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