Wounded can be better

Keep me wounded, Lord, if it keeps me from sinning.

–Thoughts after my pastor’s sermon this Sunday

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17, NASB)

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Published in: on January 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Deepest Regrets and Beautiful, Beautiful

The song Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli triggered that place in my heart of deepest regret.

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace

When I take a straight look at my life, I don’t know how God’s grace could have reached me.  Only when I look at God do I know.

The last sermon my father preached was a drawn-out misery.  He was subbing for our pastor.  My father was actually an ordained minister, even though he worked as a computer programmer.

I had no idea what was wrong with him, but I was terribly embarrassed.  He couldn’t make any words fit together to make sentences, and his voice sounded like his throat had almost swelled shut.  He had an expression on his face like he hadn’t drank water for three days.

I remember sitting there thinking of how miserable this was making my life, and thinking up ways I could separate myself from him in the minds of all my church friends.

When the diagnosis came in that he had Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and the rotten ways I had treated my father bled into my memory, I grew to want to be the one to have the disease.  I came to see I was diseased, far worse than my father.

Now, back in time.  My second semester or so of college, I met a boy I loved, James.  We had a class together and I felt a sweetness of Christ in him that I can’t give words to.  He had a degenerative muscle disease.  I remember the compassion my father had for him when the three of us went out to Wendy’s for lunch one day.  Little did my father know at the time that he, too, had a degenerative muscle disease.

After the semester ended, I lost touch with James.  I wanted to be with him, but I knew he was sick.  And I didn’t want to go through that heartache.

I saw him when I graduated from that 2-year college.  He was in a wheelchair.   Not a semester later, my father was diagnosed.

It was through that hurt that I got back in touch with James.  We emailed each other a few times.  My father died.  I wanted to be with James.  But James was dying.  And I didn’t feel like I could “put myself through” that pain.

He sent me an email two or three days before he died telling me that his heart was weak.

I did everything I could to forget my failure as a human being, much less as a daughter to my father or a friend to James.  I blocked out my failure to James and some of my unkind acts towards my father for years.  But slowly, over time, memories came back.

One day I realized the life I could have had if I had lived in love rather than fear and selfishness.  I hated myself so much I didn’t have a clue how to cope.  Most of my friends saw me as a sweet and caring person—and I knew what a lie this was.   It made it so much worse to know how highly people thought about me.

I began avoiding people.  I had trouble looking people in the face.  I stayed behind the four walls of my house as much as possible.  I stopped hoping I could somehow make things right.

I thought about my dad and James being together in Heaven, and, as I grew to see the utter desolation of my own life, I failed to see how I could ever go to a Heaven with them.  The most I hoped for was to hide in a celestial closet somewhere.  Seeing them happy through a keyhole would be enough.

Some very interesting things happened over the next several months.  My father’s death became a crutch for me to excuse all my insufficiency until even I got sick of this truly pathetic lie.  I struggled with such poor self-worth, it was a very good thing I wasn’t in any serious dating relationships.  I would probably have picked someone to marry who hated me to serve myself right.

My regret became the vantage point I imagined God had as He looked down on my life.  Surely God saw me as I saw myself—only worse, because I could give some stupid justifications to keep myself from total despair, but God saw me without any such lies.

I didn’t think anything was strong enough to make it through the bricks of regret I’d built up, but Christ’s love made it through.   And brick by brick, Christ broke away the wall, not so that He could get through, but so that I could get out.

There is nothing in my bricks or the mortar with which I sealed them that would allow for an escape.  But God is stronger than even my worst regrets.

Now I believe I can face James and my father in Heaven . . . because the same Christ who saved them has saved me.   And, as much as I know it is so undeserved . . .

I actually think my father’s petitions to God for me all the time he was on earth were answered, and that, when he got to Heaven, he was overjoyed to know this, rather than ready to change his mind and ask God to send me to Hell.

And one day I came to believe that James asked God to keep me from being involved in any relationships for as long as I hated myself and looked only for my own destruction.  I don’t know why James would do such a thing for me when I do not with one speck deserve such kindness, other than that James was always ruled by grace, and I am sure that has not changed.

Why share all this?  I suppose first to prevent any admirers of me, and second, because I believe I am not the only person with brick walls.  My prayer for you is that, if you have a brick wall separating you from the grace of Christ, that Christ will pull that wall down, brick by brick, until you can see that, beyond all human reasoning, beyond all our understanding . . . there is hope for you, too.

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so
Beautiful, beautiful

from Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:47-48, NLT)

_______________________________________________________

When

When my heart is broken by this world, I’m so glad I met You.

When I can’t find the way, I’m so glad I can always find You.

When I hurt all over, I’m so glad I trust You.

When my soul speaks babble, I’m so glad Your Spirit takes over.

When my longing throbs, I’m so glad Your love soothes me.

When it’s dark, I’m so glad you don’t leave me.

When I’m ugly, I’m so glad to hide in You.

When I’m crushed, I’m so glad You fill me.

When I’m desperate, I’m so glad You know what You’re doing.

When my prayer isn’t granted, I’m so glad You know best.

When I’m shipwrecked, I’m so glad that You’re my land.

When I’m discouraged, I’m glad You think ahead.

When I’m alone, I’m so glad You’re my company.

When I can’t write anymore, I’m so glad You have Words.

__________________________

Photo of broken daisy by Daniel Zimmel, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/devnull/

Photo of whole daisy by Peter Pearson, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/peterpearson/

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Alone

I am so struck by the Truth that I am not alone.

It is not whatsoever frightening, because I know who I am with, and I know He loves me.

I want you to understand, it is not that I deserve this privilege.   I don’t.  And from human rationality, it can’t make sense to me why it’s true.  I don’t deserve to be in the presence of love.  I know this.  And yet I am not alone.  And I am loved.

What is the one thing that I wish the world could hear?  What is the one thing I would say, if I could say just one thing and nothing more?

It would be John 3:16.  Not because it is a well-quoted verse or because it sounds good in Sunday School, but . because . it . is . real.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

I love the Lord.

I love Him so much.

But it wasn’t my idea.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

It was His.

And I am not alone.

I am not alone.

And I am in good company.  I am in the best of company.  I am a friend of God.

How do you say, “I am a friend of God”?  How can my tiny little human mind process such a statement?  I am a friend of God?  Me?  With my flaws, my failures, my ruin?  I am a friend of God?

Yes I am a friend of God.

But how?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

But why?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

Jesus Christ did this for me?  For love?

What is love, then?  Can I even say I understand it?  Love is to take a sinner and make a saint?  How is it possible that God can be inclined to feel pity for a sinner?  How is it that the pity God feels can be so great it leads Him to die?  How is it that when I feel sorry for someone, I am at most merely inclined to help, but when God feels pity, He gives up His throne and suffers all the horrors of the world and dies?

Why would He care that I am alone?

How could He care that I am alone?  He is infinite in being, free from space or time, and yet He concerns Himself with me, a person who lives on a globe that is not even a speck in the galaxy[1], a galaxy that is one of what we think are billions?

Or is it that I have it all wrong?  Is it that this little not-even-a-speck-in-the-galaxy is the reason the stars surround us?  Is God showing us how vast and incomprehensible His love like a master artist, leading us from painting to painting, each telling us a little more of His love for us?

How?  How can this be?  That the stars were created around us and not us from the stars?  That we alone in all the universe are made in the image of God, that He should lavish such love upon us?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

Not perish.

Not perish.

Not perish.

That whoever believes in Him should not perish.

No clauses.

No amendments.

No disclaimers.

Whoever.

That means me, too.

It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that such a thing so good to be possible for so bad a race as the human race, for so bad a person as me.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, ESV)

There wasn’t any hope.

But then there was.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

Are you alone?

If you are, why?

There is a Savior.  A Savior who is exactly who we need.  A Savior who gives us His Word He will love us eternally if we live in Him.

This Savior, He is a friend.  He is a friend as I have never had one.  He is a friend as you have never had.

There is nothing in this world, in this universe, in Heaven, or anywhere at all that can compel me to love as I love my Savior, His Father, His Spirit.

I pray you will love Him, too.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

[1] “How Many Galaxies Are In The Universe?” by Fraser Cain, May 4, 2009, http://www.universetoday.com/30305/how-many-galaxies-in-the-universe/

Photograph by David Woo, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mckln/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Scars

I remember a Polysporin commercial that came out several years back about a mother and daughter.  The mother talked about a scar she had gotten as a child and how she didn’t want her daughter’s injuries to turn into scars like hers had.  She used Polysporin on her daughter’s cut so her daughter wouldn’t have a permanent scar.

Scars tell stories of a past we cannot erase.  They interfere with our present appearance and refuse to go away.  We’re often self-conscious about them and usually try to hide them as much as we can.

There are scars on our souls, too, and they are just the same way.  They tell a stories of a past we can’t erase.  They interfere with our present state of mind and refuse to go away.  We’re often self-conscious about them and usually try to hide them as much as we can.  Some scars are so deep and so ugly that we are afraid to allow anyone in that part of our life, lest they gawk at our scars or, worse, reopen the wounds.

When I think of Heaven, I know those who follow Jesus will be free from their scars, for the Bible tells us through the marvelous vision John saw:

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelations 21:3-4, AKJV)

God will heal the scars on His people’s souls, and He will cloth them in new and perfect bodies.  But there is an astonishing surprise, for, though all God’s people will be scar free, God Himself will not be.

We know this because Jesus is resurrected in His new body but He still has scars (see Luke 24:39-40, John 20:19-20, John 20:26-27).

While all who follow Jesus will be scarless, Jesus Himself is scarred.  These scars are an eternal reminder, not of an accident or an imperfection in character, but instead of God’s miraculous intervening love for humanity.

In Heaven, only Jesus’ scars remain.  In Him, we are flawless.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.  They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.  In a loud voice they sang:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength

and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honor and glory and power,

for ever and ever!” (Revelation  5:11-13, NIV)

Photo by Jim Champion, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/treehouse1977/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Can God be good if He allows evil?

This issue troubled my soul for so many years, and I came to realize that, at the heart of it, was my heart.  Do I believe God has morally good reasons for allow evil?

I do.

And I believe at the very core is the righteous endowment of God of choice on His creatures.  God allows us to choose–not only us, but angels as well.  Even animals have a certain autonomy of what they can choose to do.

When I see suffering, I feel outrage and grief. But who is responsible for this? It is me. The sin of mankind's choice has placed this world under the power of evil.

As human beings, we love our right to choose, but we hate the consequences of our evil choices.  But we can’t have it both ways.  We freely chose to be evil when we had no evil within us, and now–and until the end of the world–choice will always include temptation towards evil.

The Bible says,

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NIV)

In fact, God warns us against sin throughout the Bible, like when Cain rebels against Him:

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)

God is good, so why in the world would God want people to do bad things?  We can’t and shouldn’t be fooled with this nonsense.  God did not create Lucifer so he would turn into Satan.  God does not create people to send to Hell.  And God does not ‘hope’ bad will happen so He can show how good He is.

God does not need or want bad things.  He could have lived for all eternity without a single conflict and have still been totally fulfilled.  There is no “yen and yang” to God. God doesn’t need evil to show how good He is.  His goodness can stand alone; He can also withstand any warfare with evil.

God does not try to get people to become evil.  Ever.  Some people seem to think that God ‘makes’ people do bad things.  But God’s Word proves this is not true (see Genesis 1, Exodus 15:11, Job 37:22-23, Psalms 99:3, Isaiah 6:3, Ezekiel 33:11, Romans 11:33, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 1:5, 1 John 3:5, 1 John 4:7-9, 1 John 4:16, James 1:17, Revelation 4:11, etc.).

Then, Why does God allow bad things to happen, if He would have rather they never happened?

There’s a two-word answer:  us.

God loved people so much that He was willing to create us with choice, even knowing we would mess up.  He created us because He wants us to experience Heaven with Him.  Isn’t this awesome?  God could have decided not to create a single human being, knowing what would happen, knowing all the suffering that the world would undergo before its completion, but that would mean the people He already loved would never come into existence.

Instead, God creates an amazing plan around humanity’s fall.  He will send Himself into the world in mortal form to die in their place!   What an unbelievable plan!  What an amazing rescue!   What a marvelous escape!

In fact, Peter gives an astonishing reason for why the world continues in its painful state:

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”  (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)

Can God be good if He allows evil?  Yes.  We are in that evil, and were He to destroy all evil immediately, He would destroy us!  Yet God is patient, giving us a chance to call upon Him for salvation.

How can we really ask God if He can be good to allow evil . . . when we are evil unless and until we cry out to Jesus for forgiveness?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

Photo by Shandchem, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/14508691@N08/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Does God make things right even when babies and children die?

The child who dies in a closet never having seen light, the infant who is slammed into the dresser by an angry parent, the unborn child ripped to pieces in the womb . . . shed their sufferings like an insect sheds its chrysalis upon its transformation to a new life.

But the question remains, Why do babies and children ever die at all?  Doesn’t God care for them?  Isn’t He just?

This goes back to the cost of our sin, the mystery of God’s plan, and the ending of the world.

We grossly underestimate the cost of our sin.  We don’t want to think we have caused the suffering of even innocent human being by our own selfish decisions, but, in our hearts, we know we have.  There is no way to see how much evil even one selfish action causes.  One person, for example, belittling another person could be the catalyst for that person to belittle another person, and that person to belittle another person, and so on.  While was are not responsible for the sins of others, we are responsible for our sin, and sin is never-ending unless it is stopped by justice or redemption.  There is no way to tell how far the damage has spread.

We don’t know the mystery of God’s plan.  Why does God allow suffering of even children and babies?  First of all, God didn’t cause our world to be filled with sin, and He is not responsible for the suffering we have brought on ourselves by that sin.  Second of all, I have come to realize more and more than we are not God, and we cannot try to guess His decisions for Him.  When He doesn’t intervene and prevent abuse or murder, there is a reason He does not, and I don’t have to know it to trust Him.  This is no easy thing.  But I know the God who calls little children to Him (see Matthew 19:14  and Mark 10:14) and doesn’t wish for any of them to perish (see Matthew 18:14) and I know that people are responsible to God for all their actions, and that God takes special notice of anything done against children (see Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2.)

The ending of the world has not yet happened.  God does not treat us like robots.  We have decisions to make in this world, and until the world ends, there will be sin, and there will be suffering.  We have chosen this for ourselves by our own bad actions.  And we must live in a world full of the consequences of those actions.  But God in His grace has not left us here alone.  He suffered for all the world’s sin, and so He understands our pain and shares our suffering.

There is no easy answer for suffering of any kind.  But there is an answer.  And until we get to the point of fully knowing the answer, fully experiencing it, we have the mighty Answerer to trust in . . . who wrote the answer for suffering not on gilded pages or with fine pen . . . but on a cursed hill on a cross, with His blood.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:3-4,NIV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Does Christianity say suffering is brought on by “a lack of faith”?

Unfortunately, Christianity has become notorious for the line, “If you just had more faith [this bad circumstance] would not happen.”  (Although I have to say, I have been around Christians a great deal of my life, including during my father’s terminal illness, and the only people I ever remember hearing say this are a few people on TV who say they are Christians and call themselves evangelists but seem to seek money and fame instead of true healing for others.)

A statement that bad circumstances only happen to people who don’t have faith either comes from a chosen naivety about the work of God (since His Word is available to us) or a self-arrogance or simply for exploitation of weak and needy people.  The latter is especially horrendous as people who would advertise themselves as Christians have attempted to make a mockery of Christ.  Christ Himself was poor and He healed poor people because He had pity on them.  He never asking for them to buy religious souvenirs from Him.  People who try to sell healing do it to their own condemnation; Christ’s healing is a gift from God–free–and cannot be earned.

Christ did talk about faith in His teaching on earth, and His disciples did as well.  During His ministry, Christ sometimes could not do miracles because people didn’t believe in Him.  If these people had believed in Him, He would have healed them– and not just of physical ailments (although He could easily heal those) but of spiritual pains, too!

Sometimes we get caught up only in the physical healing Jesus is able to give.  I understand this.  My father had a terminal illness, and I know the ache of praying for physical healing.  Other people have far worse aches than this.  We live in a physical world, and so naturally our attention is drawn to physical healing.  But as hard as it is to imagine sometimes, there is a world far more important than this world, a spiritual world, where our souls live forever.

So while physical healing is a wonderful thing, it is not the most wonderful thing.  Jesus made it clear that forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God is the most miraculously wonderful thing we can ever experience.

There are other times God doesn’t supernaturally intervene in this physical world in the way we would like, and it doesn’t matter how much faith we have, the miracle we have in mind is not going to happen.  I absolutely wanted my father healed of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  But he wasn’t, not in his physical body.  He died.

God doesn’t always do the miracles we want.  There is no way around this truth, because at the very center of Christianity is a denied miracle.

Jesus the night of His betrayal.

Jesus knows Judas is bringing men with clubs and swords to get Him, drag Him away to a mock trial, torture Him, and crucify Him.  He begs with His Father to intervene, praying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26:39b, NIV)

Jesus prays again later, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42b, NIV)

Why doesn’t Jesus’  Father help Him escape the cross?

The cross in the only way for Jesus to buy back people for Heaven.  Christ’s suffering is humanity’s only redemption.  God had a plan that was better than an immediate miracle, and Christ had enough faith that He was willing to go through the most terrifying death ever in the history of the world.

  • Faith that enables miracles is a faith in the power of God.
  • Faith that still believes even when there is no immediate miracle is a faith in the goodness of God.

To say that we would never go through hard times if we had enough faith is to say that Christ didn’t have enough faith to save Himself from the cross.  It is blasphemous and should not ever be associated with Christianity.  It is a whole other religion altogether.

Faith results in obedience to God, obedience to His plan, whatever miracles may or may not immediately be.

Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8, NLT)

Jesus gave up the miracle of salvation for Himself from the cross.  Instead He chose the miracle of salvation for all who believe Him because of the cross.

God, coming to earth to die for our sins, dying for us, and bringing back to life not only Himself, but all who have faith in Him.

This is the greatest miracle of all:

He is risen. (Matthew 28:6b, KJV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why does God allow death and suffering?

C.S. Lewis calls it “the problem of pain” in his book by the same name.  Philosophers ask the question . . . but this is not a question that stays only in the realm of the intellect.  It is a question buried deep in our souls, from the instant tragedy bursts the fragile bubble of dreams we have when we start this life.

The question is not bound by class, age, ethnicity, culture, or religion.  It roams our souls, seeking an answer that can somehow patch up the holes blown through our hopes: Why would God allow death and suffering?

I lost my father to ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, over a slow 21 months of dying.  Right after him, I lost a wonderful boy I’d met in college who had a degenerative muscle disease.  A few years ago my mother had a occurrence of CMV, a virus that nearly killed her when I was a toddler, and developed with it spinal meningitis, confined to bed, her strength broken like a delicate eggshell.

For most of my teenage and early adult years, I struggled with depression and terrifying anxiety attacks.  I didn’t understand why God allowed so much suffering to happen, from the small experiences of having someone cuss me out or belittle me . . . to the large experiences like coping with my father’s terminal illness or the way so many people seemed to abandon him.

And then there are the people whose lives seem to prove the case for an uncaring god, the people who have one tragedy after another tragedy hit, the people who lose until they go bankrupt and lose some more.

My mom told me a story of a little girl she never forgot from her teenage years.  Every time she saw the little girl on the bus, the little girl would come up to her and sit on her lap.  She was always bruised and shaking, terrified to go home.  My mom has no idea what happened to her.

Why would God allow suffering, and why this excruciating kind of suffering?  Why would He allow this little girl to go home every day and not strike her parents dead?  Why would He allow so many people around the world to suffer . . . for long times . . . in terrible ways?

We want the answer to this question so badly . . . but do we ever think of what the alternative would be?

What would happen if God didn’t allow suffering?  What would happened if He intervened? If He stepped in every time, the entire world would have to end, because we live in a broken world, or we would have to be puppets, unable to love.  If the world had ended the first time suffering had occurred . . . think of how many people would never even had had the opportunity to know God, would never even have been conceived?

If God is only to intervene some of the time, on our times, we must answer impossible questions: How great would the suffering have to be before He intervenes?  How many people can be lost by never getting  a chance at life because another person’s suffering was ended?  For example, suppose we ask God to come and strike dead the parents of the abused child I talked about earlier.  But what if these very parents will have another child a year later?  What about that child’s life, who will never even exist?  What if that child later brings a discovery to the world that saves a hundred thousand lives?  What if that child has a child who has a child who has a child?

And for that matter, how great does the sin have to be for God to strike someone dead?  If it were just for sin, would He not strike every one of our fallen race dead?  And how can we measure how great the sin?  And what if the person about to be struck dead later repents and, in later years, brings great joy to a hundred people?  To ten people?  To one person?  What if that person would later save the life of someone else?  What if because of that person’s wickedness, a person witnessing the events decides not to sin, but would have sinned otherwise, and sinned even more wickedly?

Suffering can make us wonder why we are even here. But we were not created to suffer. And our Creator cared about our suffering enough to die to bring us back to Him.

There is no way we can play God.  No way.

Why does God allow death and suffering?  So He can bring about hope to as many people as will receive Him.

The worst death, the greatest suffering, was brought upon the most innocent person of all, Jesus Christ.  If there was any time it seemed God should step it, it was when His own holy and perfect Son died, His Son who had spent His life bringing healing and salvation to so many people, so many people who were viewed nearly worthless or vile in His society: women, children, lepers, the crippled, the poor, the hated ethnic groups, as well as people who gave themselves reason to be disliked–thieves, swindlers, prostitutes, liars, and even a man who lived among the caves of the dead.

But God did not stop evil religious leaders, the angry mob, or the wicked government.  Because if He had, there would be no salvation for us.  God–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit–chose this path of suffering that seemed as if it could only be a dead end, so that Jesus could make a way through the dead end for the salvation of all who trust Him.

I don’t have answers for why there is the suffering there is in this world, why some people suffer as they do, why some suffering is so particularly terrible.  But I know our suffering is part of the great price of sin that God didn’t want us to carry.

And I know the God who carried suffering.

Jesus called his disciples to him. He said, `I share the suffering of the people. They have been with me for three days and they have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry. If they go away hungry, they will get weak and fall on the way.’ (Matthew 15:31, WEB)

Jesus stopped and called the men to him. He asked, `What do you want me to do for you?’

They said, `Sir, we want to see.’

 Jesus was very sorry for them as he shared in their suffering. He touched their eyes, and right then they were able to see. They went with him. (Matthew 20:32-35, WEB)

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise again from death. And this Jesus, whom I am talking about, is the Christ. (Acts 17:3b, WEB)

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1st Photograph (statue), by Jo Ann Deasy, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/7682623@N02/

2nd Photograph (You suffer, but why?) by Pankaj, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/pankaj/

3rd Photograph (house) by Vagabond Shutterbug, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/waikikiweekly/

4th Photograph (statue) by Mykl Roventine, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/myklroventine/

5th Photograph (question) by Quinn Dombrowski, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/quinnanya/

6th Photograph (Why am I here?) from the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, Kentucky, personal photograph.

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

Underlining of “suffering” is mine in each Scripture.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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