My older brother died at forty-two years of age, and the loss I felt was so great that… I stopped praying and going to church. Just writing these lines has been very difficult, but since I subscribed to receive your messages by email two weeks ago, I decided to take the risk. I don’t want to keep feeling this resentment toward God for having lost my brother. Why do I feel this way?

Dear Friend,

Thank you for trusting us enough to confide in us, even though it was difficult for you to express your feelings. No one can make you feel differently than you do, for you have suffered a great loss and your brother is never coming back. However, we will attempt to answer your question of why you feel such resentment toward God.

Imagine a wood fire, burning slowly but steadily. When more wood is added, the low flames may flash higher for a short time, but then they die back down to the steady, slow burn. The fire isn’t big enough to get out of control, but it is enough to cause heat and the eventual consumption of the wood. The fire will only die out when it has consumed all the wood.

The pain you feel because of your brother’s death is like the slow fire. It is always there, burning inside of you. However, you subconsciously fear that the memory of your brother will fade away eventually and that he will be forgotten. That thought makes you angry because you loved him so much, so you have to get more fuel for the fire so that it will flash and then keep burning steadily.

Resentment is fuel for the fire. So you resent the only One who you believe could have prevented your brother from dying: God. Every time you think of your brother, the thought turns into fuel for the fire because that is how you have been keeping his memory alive. Your thoughts progress like this: God is supernatural, so He could have prevented this great loss. — Why didn’t He? — He should have! — It’s His fault! Throw wood on the fire, and your brother’s memory is kept alive inside of you.

Blaming God is like punishing him for what you perceive that He did wrong. When you choose to stay away from church and to not have a relationship with God through prayer, you subconsciously think that you are giving God the punishment that He deserves for what He did to your brother and to you.

Just because we think something, does not make it true. When we are in pain, our feelings can deceive our minds into believing and acting upon irrational thoughts. Believing that resentment against anyone will punish him or her for what they have done is irrational. Instead, the slow burn only destroys the inside of the person who keeps adding fuel to the fire.

Of course, we would prefer that God miraculously intervene to interrupt the natural progression of life and death, especially when the person is someone we love. But when we demand that He do it, and try to punish Him for not doing it, then we demonstrate that we believe we should be God and He should take orders from us.

Disease and violence are what cause people to die; healthy habits and good genes are what cause people to live. We don’t blame or credit God for our habits because we understand that we make our own choices. We have learned that the human body functions as a result of a pumping heart, brain waves, and chemical substances. God created it and set it in motion, but He then gave the human race both the ability and the responsibility to make choices that would ultimately affect themselves and all the generations after them.

God loves you very much and wants to give you peace. Rather than fueling resentment, a better way to keep your brother’s memory alive is by displaying pictures of him, telling stories about him, and doing positive things for other people that you believe he would have wanted.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles