We can stop pretending God is nice, as if it's his job to make our lives well-adjusted or religious or even spiritual. Jesus did not say he came to give us happiness, only blessedness. He did not promise an easy life, only an abundant one. He doesn't call us to be religious or spiritual, but to love God and love others. We can save ourselves a lot of grief if we recognize that up front.
This means at least two things: (1) He's not going to spare us from heartache, suffering, and chaos. (2) He's actually going to bring heartache, suffering, and chaos into our lives sometimes.
We hear about the first often, and we've been rightly told that when evil embeds itself in our lives through death or disease or destruction that the truths of the gospel remain: God is still Emmanuel, with us. He is, even in the worst circumstances, taking that worst thing, like he took the death of his Son, and turning it into something redemptive. It's only a matter of time.
But the biblical picture shows us that sometimes God doesn't merely react to the evil chaos in our lives, he sometimes creates what might be called holy chaos. Like he did to the Pharisees. And to Peter. And to Paul. And to the disciples at Pentecost. He does things in our lives that leave us confused and bewildered for a time.
In this, too, we are wise to remember that God is still Emmanuel, with us. In this case, he's not merely using chaos, he is instilling a holy chaos into our lives."
I'm still wrapping my mind around a God who not only allows, but sometimes brings holy disruption. It's...unsettling...but would I really want it any other way? "Jesus: The God Who Coddles" is hardly a tagline that promotes allegiance.
Here's an analogy. I go to a gym that uses instability as a training tool. They don't use machines at all; in fact, they try to destabalize as many moves as is safely possible so as to engage as many muscles as possible. If you're going to work out, why not do it right? It works; the results for their clients are impressive. It's not a gym that coddles, but it's a gym that makes athletic men and women out of boys and girls.
I want a God who destabalizes as many moves in my life as is safely possible. If I'm going to ask Him to make me strong, why not do it right? And when, in the end, when we see how Jesus made spiritual men and women out of boys and girls, we will give Him the praise He deserves.