Friday, May 24, 2013

Thinking about Suffering

       Walking through this time of sickness (since November 2012) has stirred up many thoughts.  Unanswerable questions.  Why is God allowing this?  Have I done something wrong?  Will He heal me and stop the suffering? What purpose could He have?  Will He use my life again?  And then other questions follow, more philosophical questions:  what is the purpose of life? Is it to be busy doing ministry, reaching out to others with the gospel, being involved in people's lives? Or is it enough to rest in Him, walk through this lesson day by day, loving and enjoying Him in the midst of inactivity and immobility?  Our purpose is to glorify Him, to love Him and accept from His hand what He chooses to give, for whatever reason He might have.  Trusting Him, His unchangeableness.
       God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Unsearchable. Unfathomable.  Impossible to comprehend unless He chooses to reveal.  The only answer possible is faith.  Trust Me, He says.  Trust my character. Trust my love.  I am a loving Father and I know what I am doing.  I love you.

       Again and again, I am reminded of the solidness of faith. Faith in the unseen, not the seen. Faith in the God who knows the answers, yet chooses to not answer them now.  Faith in the character and solid foundation of God Himself.  He loves me, this I know! He works all things together for my good.   He has a purpose in allowing suffering and a total disruption of my life as I knew it. And it's okay!  God is building my faith, testing it, stretching it, honing it.  Making it more precious than gold.
        A couple days ago, I started reading a book by James Dobson called "When God Doesn't Make Sense".  It's a great book!  Through many illustrations of incomprehensible human suffering, we come face to face with the reality of God and our own human frailty and the questions that plague us.  The unanswerable "whys".    Suffering challenges us and pushes us beyond what we feel to the reality of faith. The reality if hanging on to what is unchangeable and sure.  Hanging onto God Himself, the One who exists and always is, and yet Who we cannot see.  He is the sure foundation, in the midst of the storm of emotion and uncertainty.

Dobson lists four principles regarding God:

1.  God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or on an extended leave of absence.

2.  God's timing is perfect even when He appears catastrophically late.

3.  For reasons that are impossible to explain, we human beings are incredibly precious to God.

4.  Your arms are too short to box with God. Don't try it!


1.  God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or on an extended leave of absence.   God is present and involved even when we feel like He isn't!  Every day I have a choice to make, to rely on emotion or to rely on truth.  I find that if I turn, even for a moment, to emotion I flounder. If I turn to truth, I soar.  Emotions are not trustworthy.  They are unstable and constantly changing.  They are fickle and misleading.  Yet how many of us turn to our emotions rather than the word of God?  We do  not "feel" God is present, so we believe He is not present.  His word says "I will never leave you or forsake you."  Jesus said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Over and over we hear of God's presence in our lives, watching over our waking and sleeping, intimately acquainted with all of our ways.  He knows our thoughts even before they come to our minds.  He knows us. He is with us. He will never leave us.  So if we feel He is not there,  does that mean He is not there?
      God is with us, no matter what.  No matter what we are going through.  No matter if we understand what we are going through or not. He is with us.  As surely as the branch is connected to the Vine.  We are in Him and He is in us -- FOREVER!  We are one with Him -- ALWAYS.   We don't have to feel this connecting to know it is true.  His word tells us it's true and His word is our anchor, our sure foundation.  Let's cling to it, hold fast to the hope we have in Him.

2.  God's timing is perfect even when He appears catastrophically late.  God's timing is not always the timing we prefer.  We want quick remedies. Quick answers. Quick results.  We would like short or non-existent suffering.  And we would like to understand why suffering is allowed, how long it will last, when it will be over and the purpose of the whole thing.  We would like to have answers and we would like them now.  We want to be healed and can become discouraged if God does not seem to answer.   God's timing is perfect, not matter how it appears to us.

continued another time......