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This is God! I Hate You!

This is God! I Hate You!

AUGUST 24, 2021

/ Articles / This is God! I Hate You!

This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

I was sitting at my desk in my home office, trying to work on a lecture for the Seminary-in-Prison class I was scheduled to teach the next afternoon. My 26-year-old stepson Paul was standing in the hallway, just outside the office door.

This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

If this was like previous episodes, Paul was going to stand there for a couple of hours, yelling at me until he was hoarse.

This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

Sixteen years before, when he was nine, Paul had contracted an encephalitis virus which left him with cognitive impairment and intractable epilepsy. It was necessary for him to take maximum dosages of multiple antiseizure medications. Even with the medications, he often had 15 or more seizures a month. Without the medications, he would have seized uncontrollably until he died.

An unfortunate side effect of long-term use of some antiseizure medication can be a medication-induced psychosis. Paul’s psychosis had started several months before and was getting progressively worse.

I dropped my head and ran a finger across my broken nose and then rubbed my broken rib. The previous Sunday, during a psychotic episode, Paul head-butted me in the face and punched me in the chest.

This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

When I married Gail, I knew that that also meant having Paul in my life. While not trying to replace his father, I had, for seven years tried to be a “Dad” to him. But this was too much. I hadn’t signed up for this.

This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

“I can’t do this anymore,” I thought. “I’m done.”

Right on the heels of that thought, I mean immediately after that thought, I heard a “voice” in my mind, “If Jesus is patient with you, how can you not be patient with Paul?”

This was not the first time this had happened, not the first time, as Paul’s psychosis had gotten worse, as he had screamed at Gail or me for hours, as it had become increasingly difficult to leave the house with Paul, as I had looked into a future of this with no end, that I’d thought, “I’m done,” and then instantly been challenged by the “voice.”

“If Jesus is patient with you, how can you not be patient with Paul?”

I reflected on Jesus’ patience with me. I thought about my many sins, my broken promises, my failures, my selfishness, my willful disobedience. I meditated on the truth that even though I had given him many reasons to say, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done,” Jesus had never said that about me.

There are 202 times in the ESV translation of the Bible where the phrase “steadfast love” is used to describe God’s covenant commitment to his people. His love is steadfast, unchanging, not because of what his people do or don’t do, but because of who he is. Jesus is a steadfast lover.

I meditated on Psalm 25:6-7—

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

 This is God! I hate you! Everyone hates you!

I again bowed my head, but this time in prayer. I asked God to help me remember Jesus’ patience and steadfast love for me, and to give me the grace to be more like him, to be patient and loving with Paul.

I am not yet perfected. I still have moments when the old man comes out of me. But I did learn patience and love during those terrible months. I am a better person, more patient, more kind, and more considerate of others. Though I am not glad that Paul had to suffer with psychosis, I am grateful that God used it redemptively in my life.

This was one of the last psychotic episodes Paul had. Two weeks later, after several failed attempts at finding an effective medication, Paul was prescribed one that eliminated the psychotic symptoms. That was April 2017. In July, Paul passed away in his sleep. Gail and I will always be grateful for the gift of having the “old Paul” with us for his final few months.  

Barry Smith

Barry Smith

Barry’s aim is to prepare the Church to minister well in prisons so that prisoners are prepared to minister well in the Church. This is accomplished through service in complementary roles: Barry serves with the PCA’s Metanoia Prison Ministries as the Regional Director for Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. He works with local churches to help […]

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