Tag Archives: dealing with pain

Hard Questions

Last week I started a tough chapter. One God brought up in my time with Him the other morning. I was just going to gloss over the death penalty in Leviticus as I and so many Christians have done in the past. It feels bad, wrong even, but this is God, and so we move on and in a while forget about it. So I mentioned it and was going to do the same again, until Ruach said he didn’t want me to. He wanted me to deal with it.

“What? Really?” And I felt worse.

The next morning He said, “Do you think that is what I wanted?”

And it was amazing how all the bad feelings melted away. I knew that was not what He wanted–ever. Death has no part of Him, Them, or the kingdom They created and will preside over forever. It can’t even exist in Their presence.

It’s why Jesus couldn’t go to Mary and Martha even though he wanted to. Lazarus wouldn’t have died, and God needed him to, so Jesus could raise him from the dead as Jesus crowning proof he was their Messiah (the sign of Jonah promised the Pharisees.) It was hard on Mary and Martha, but he knew them, and knew he could trust them to get through it without breaking faith.

So why did He set it up as a boundary in Israel? Why so harsh? Why so drastic?

He gave me several reasons: His perspective, the times, prevailing customs, and most importantly containment.

God’s Perspective on Death

If you read the Bible carefully, you find references to death that treat it as a sleep. Jesus confirmed this on at least two occasions: Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter. He raised them back to life, but they died again. Lazarus, not too long after that.

John the Baptist, on the other hand, died at Herod’s hand; the Baptist’s and Jesus’ disciples wondered why Jesus didn’t rescue him and never knew why. I wondered too. Then one day my husband and I were reading the story and I voiced my question again. He told me that he believed John was one of the ones who came out of the grave when Jesus died and went back to heaven with him (Matthew 28:52-53) as the “first fruits” we spoke of in the last chapter. Immediately I espoused that belief! I love it!

And it helped me with God’s perspective on death which for years I had begun to see was different from ours. To us death leaves such a hole in our lives it is traumatic. And if the death was violent it’s so much worse. But even other deaths we hear of are painful when we hear of other people suffering. To us death has such a finality, even if we believe we will see them again in the resurrection. It may be years, and what do we do with the emptiness, love and longing for years?

To God, death is nothing but a moment. Our life span is but a moment. He lives outside of time. And They know hearts. They know who will be resurrected and live forever. Jesus said, “…Even the dead are alive in God’s mind.” So if God “accidentally” kills Nadab and Abihu because of their rash action of coming into Adonai’s presence unfitly, He knows if they will be in heaven.

Death here and forgiveness have nothing to do with each other. God might allow you to die to take you out of painful circumstances, knowing He will see you soon, as he did with John the Baptist and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They have been a great encouragement to other’s in similar situations. The dead are no different from the living to God.

I’m sure the deaths of those who reject Them are painful to God. There are no more chances. But once again, they read hearts. They know who is really Theirs, and forgiveness is easily extended to those who are honest in heart. This takes us to looking at God as King.

Civil Responsibility of Governments

How does God act as the government? He was the top for Israel. He was their king. until they begged for one. They didn’t want to be a different (holy) nation! They wanted to be like everyone else. It’s so sad how our insecurity makes us want to fit in.

God as king had to have civil laws, and perhaps that scared them because of Sinai. But if they had known God—had their own personal relationships with Him, as Moses did–and known Adonai’s sweet love and tenderness, they would have known He reads hearts and they could trust His judgment as king. Judgment most broadly means discernment.

But since this is too long already, here ends the excerpt from Love’s Playbook, episode 6.

 

 

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Your Resident Genius

We watched the President’s get together Thursday night. I liked it. He was open, relaxed, unbiased, direct, and inclusive. He was supportive of all groups represented, non-threatened, and non-threatening. He was honest about the problems, and yet encouraging and hopeful.

David Muir did a great job of setting it up and moderating. It was the first time I had seen a President do that–like a town hall meeting only better. Getting diverse people to sit together, share, ask and listen is huge. Kudos to David if it was his brain child, almost like group therapy, just a little more structured, and a little more wow factor. They were invited to be in a group with the President of the United States! They could even ask questions if they had made arrangements to. An experience they will always remember.

This week I read a description of the advantage we have as God’s children. We have a resident genius living with us–God’s Spirit. Why don’t we use Him? He is always with us, waiting for us to talk to Him. Why don’t we ask Him questions? Or ask His perspective on what we are going through? How does He view what we are struggling with? What are His plans for keeping us safe? You can have an audience with the King every day! Just by choosing it. Really. I do.

Some days it’s richer than others. And it will morph over time. I started by purposeful breathing. And then added talking and listening at the same time. Now I curl up next to a big pillow like I’m on His lap. Some days its all about me, and that’s it. But I always end up better. Other days, many of them, I get His thoughts, His perspective, on what I’m working on or wondering about. It’s great! Even better than having the honor of sitting in a group with the President!

As I said last week, Jesus warned us it was going to get ugly–it did again this week–in France, and my oldest sister finding out she has cancer. So many people grieving and in fear! We need our Resident Genius to get through this, to keep our hearts strong, warm, and well. Don’t let your heart get cold because of evil. God wins! It isn’t all good, but it will be.

 

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Ten Seconds to Changing Your LIfe

So did you take the ten-second challenge? Becoming more joyful is not as easy as it seems, is it? It’s like trying to improve your posture. You have to remember to think about it. And decide again and again if the effort is worth it. But who doesn’t want more joy in your life? Who doesn’t want to be a happier person?

We don’t realize that choice has so much to do with how we feel. We tend to believe that how we feel is out of our control, or controlled by what happens to us.

If that were true we would have no real freedom. Fortunately, it’s not.

Some happenings are bad and do demand a time of grief and thought, but many more times we just get caught up in fear or anxiety that is unnecessary. If you have no control and no responsibility, let it go. Don’t weigh yourself down with pain and problems that don’t belong to you.

As a therapist, I listen to people’s pain and problems all the time; it’s part of the job, but I listen to them for them. I don’t take it in. It isn’t mine. It doesn’t belong to me. If I take on their pain, I’m no good to them. My job is to walk through it with them, and help them experience it, see it clearly, and make choices about it.

Is it the end of the world? No, not even if it feels like it. Face it. Experience it. Get out of it by doing what you can, and go back to focusing on the good in your life.

The hardest things to do this with are death, divorce, and the pain of your children. That last one is maybe the hardest. But we must remember that pity is the nastiest thing we can do to another person. Children are hard-wired for struggle. It’s how they grow and develop character. We don’t want to take it away–just strengthen them to walk through it with the truth about themselves.

And the truth is always that God loves them and wants the very best for them. God is good and can be trusted, but has enemies who are very active here–that is where suffering comes from. And that is precisely why we don’t want to give it a lot of time. Do you want to walk with God or His enemies?

God is never surprised by pain or happenings. He always has a way out, you only have to ask Him to show it to you. Then trust that He will because you are His kid, and go back to making sure the good things in your life get at least ten seconds of notice. God wants you to thrive.

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