Tag Archives: “Does God want us to suffer?”

Suffering–Bad or Good?

You read the title and thought that’s a no-brainer, right?

This morning my devotional thought was “called to suffer,” (1Peter 2:21) And my instant reaction was yuck!

I think I understand a lot about suffering–the good, the bad, and the ugly, and still my reaction is bad–certainly not what Peter and James talk about. If you’ve never read them, they say “count it all joy.”  Oh sure!

Seriously? Consider suffering as joy? Why?

Because it brings good. Brings the true you out. Can you suffer gracefully? Do you run from it? And what happens when you can’t? Do you go into self-pity? Whine? Cry? Become the martyr? Blame God? Others? Or all of it?

Pain is hard. It can really mess up your head. I’ve seen the lies that get spun from it–all bad things about us, and many times others. Sometimes they deserve it, and times they don’t. And God gets a bad rap too, usually.

So what is good about hurting? It shows what is truly valuable to you. Do you know who you are–your worth? your value? Do you know what is important to you? What you really believe? Is there anything or anyone you will suffer for? Or are you just a storefront? A façade? A pretend person? In psychology we call it a “persona,” the mask we wear for the public; and we all have them, but hopefully they don’t have us. In other words, we don’t completely believe that is who we are–we are aware that we have a dark and a light side. If you don’t know that, you will be suffering at some point.

That is the good in suffering.

Also this morning I am leading out in a study on chapter 5 of book 5 in Love’s Playbook. It is still following Moses through his dark night of the soul experience where he is questioning everything, especially God and himself. He thought he knew who he was and what he was doing, and then in an instant it all went south. So much so that it was like starting with a pile of ashes. A lot of people in California can relate to that. Only worse. He had nothing, but he wasn’t sure if he believed anything either. His literal and faith-based world had been turned upside-down.

I’ve decided to go back to the introduction in Job, because his story is all about suffering and what we can learn about it and from it. Seven life questions are listed there and I even came up with another one or two–mainly making sense of where we are and what we live with. It provides a framework for understanding many things–especially why we believe crazy things about God. Why we suffer, who is responsible (besides our poor choices), and what we can do about it.

People who suffer graciously bring good out of it, and often will tell you they would never give up the experience. I heard that again this week on the news: from a girl who lost her legs to save her life because she kept having heart problems. It was a radicle solution, but it worked, and she is now a nurse working in the same hospital that saved her life. She said if she could give up her prostheses and have her legs back but would miss that three years experience, she would never do it. The suffering was that valuable to her.

I’m sure Jesus would say the same thing about his three and a half years of suffering here–more like 33 years. (Can you even imagine not having a dark side and yet being stalked by the dark side continually? Horrific!) And he didn’t even need character development. But “he was perfected through suffering,” meaning he values the experience so much because it helped him (and the watching universe) understand us and relate to us, and understand the heinous character of evil and its ruinous effects.

Isn’t it interesting that suffering is the means to the end of good. That something God won’t allow in the hereafter is used as the purifier. Hmmm.

What does that mean? Could we say the doorway to character is how we relate to suffering? It shows if you can be trusted. Do you really want good? Really want love? Or does it grow hate and anger in you? It separates the phonies from the solid. Are you willing to trust God even when He allows you to suffer?

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Does it Mean Anything?

This has been a rough week for Texas and Louisiana, and our watching nation. Help from neighbors and funds from everywhere are pouring in. It has all but eclipsed the floods in Asia.

Did you know that 17 million people have been affected in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh by those floods? People have lost their homes their livestock, and their loved ones–the death count keeps rising, presently 1200.

Tropical storm Lidia leaves 7 dead in Mexico. Fires are burning in California, and hail the size of golf balls fell where our kids live in North Carolina. All of this at once is overwhelming. And what if it gets worse?

Will you know how to answer the question, “How could a good God let this happen?” Will you say, “It isn’t God doing it; we have, it’s global warming.” That is a good answer for weather.

But what if evil starts showing up, like it seems to be, more and more in people? Maybe you have experienced it yourself! Can you say with confidence that God is good? And how can you explain that?

Do you know that there is a war going on here? Can you say why? You have to dig it out of scripture. It doesn’t really sit on the surface, except references to it here and there, as in Peter’s, “Your adversary walks around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Who is this adversary? Why does he hate us? Why are we counseled by Paul to put on the whole armor of God? Why are we told that we are not fighting against flesh and blood? And why is our enemy fighting God?

Can you answer these questions? God hasn’t exposed Satan. He let him do that himself. But now it is for us to understand why evil has such a huge presence here, and what really has happened in this war between good and evil. When will it end? Why has evil been allowed so much power and presence? And what do we need to know? Especially if it gets worse? Can we trust God? And why doesn’t He stop it?

I’m not saying focus on evil. You should by all means focus on good! What you focus on grows in you. But as I often say you are on a need to know basis, and you need to know this so you don’t get scared and start to doubt God’s goodness. God is good. And all of this craziness does make sense. That is why I’m writing.

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Truth can Help

Everyone has disappointment. I watched a video today of my last baby grandson taking his first steps. Of course I was thrilled that my daughter got it on camera and sent it, but later some anger came rumbling up in my chest. I am missing it. I’m missing being in their lives every day. I’m missing the milestones!

It’s the new reality I live with. At times like this it can come up without warning. I have decided to accept it, and sometimes it makes me angry, other times sad, but it is the reality of choice. My husband wants to stay here till he dies. So it pits my love  for him against my love for my grandsons. My desire to be Gama as Jack says.

The only thing that keeps me sane is focusing on the fact that my life is wonderful in every other regard.

People made choices based on the best information they had, and now there is sadness in my life. It’s not a matter of blaming anyone, that wouldn’t help. It’s just the way it is. My husband and I made our desires known to each other as clearly as we can; and there seems nothing to be done, except acceptance and loving what is.

But I know people are, at this minute, over-coming worse pain by looking for the good. The pain of loss of parents, of partners; of living with terminal illness, of no security, no stability, no power, no perceived love. Sometimes we have to forgive God for this expensive way of living. Allowing suffering to be the marker for character.

God hates suffering. I know that. He never intended it. He didn’t bring it on; but it is a great indicator. He (They) have suffered far worse, and far longer, than any of us because of being willing to go on trial to keep Love as the basis for freedom.

And I know He will make it up to us who choose Him, and choose to have a good attitude about suffering, bringing harmony back to the universe. That’s a good truth to hang on to when it gets dark in your life.

My husband and I have been reading the end of The Book — His story — for two weeks–Revelation 21 and 22. It’s pretty amazing. He wants to read it every day for a month.

God says it’s truth you can count on. He will wipe away every tear, along with death, suffering, sadness, and evil. It will all be a faint memory with no pain. And ALL of life will  be wonderful from then on.

Reliable truth (truth that has survived suffering) is a good thing to know in disappointment and sadness.

 

 

 

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A Perspective on Perspective

I promised to answer questions I raised about suffering with the last blog, so for those who are interested: here are my answers. And my disclaimer is don’t take my word, search it out for yourself. This represents 50+ years of Bible study, but you need to know for yourself, asking God’s Spirit to teach you.

Perspective is a very flexible, subjective thing. Beauty and wisdom are in the eyes of the beholder. We don’t have to come to consensus, but you might think if we have the same teacher, we would.

If we could see all the variables God sees, we would be amazed and overwhelmed. But this has helped me understand a sliver of why my brother wasn’t healed in answer to his sisters’ prayers.

If he had been healed, just to watch his baby girl (now 44) die from cancer, it would have been over-the-top pain. She was the one who sat by his bed the last week of his life.

But why not heal her? My religion shows and teaches Jesus healing everyone who asked. Even now Jesus heals those who ask, but not always in their time frame.

He’s promised to heal, He’s promised to answer, but not necessarily now. And not at our demand. Because like a loving and faithful parent, he sometimes says “Wait a while,” and other times He says “No” because His wisdom sees ahead.

However, He has supplied some examples of changing His “no” to yes with disastrous results because someone cried and asked Him to.

The story of Hezekiah* is one of these. He became very ill, and God sent Isaiah to tell him that he would not recover. Now Hezekiah was one of the best kings Israel ever had. He brought tremendous reforms, and did wonderful things, and God honored him–even defeating Sennacherib and the whole Assyrian army when they threatened Israel.

Because he had been so faithful to God, he cried to God and used his record of faithfulness as reason God should heal him. And so God did. He even gave him a sign that he would recover that got the attention of the secular nations around.

But when ambassadors came asking about it, Hezekiah’s faith failed him. He didn’t talk about God or his healing. He showed them what he knew they could relate to–treasure. And they did–they came back and got it.

But that isn’t the worst. During the extra 15 years given to Hezekiah, his son Manasseh was born–one of the worst kings, if not the worst, Israel ever had. He took Israel away from God for 40 years, and undid all the work of his father. It was the beginning of the end that led to being conquered. So what do you think? Was that just so we could read about it and learn to trust His “no”?

If we can get to the place of trusting God–just believing He is all good, and knows what is best, we would be happier. We would be a lot less confused and more relaxed. We don’t know what He sees, what He knows, so knowing Him becomes the only thing we can depend on. He is the loving, all-wise parent.

I’ve been trying to understand what life is all about for 55 years, and in the last ten, two things have become very clear: God is all good and He’s not afraid to suffer and die, and even though He hates suffering and death, He’s not afraid to let us suffer and die. He sees death very differently than we do.

But that’s for next time.

Chronicles 29-32

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Perfected through Suffering???

I hate suffering. My clients hate suffering. Everyone I know hates suffering. And that is healthy. Even God hates suffering.

We often think He wants us to suffer, but it’s not true.

His favorite things are love, joy, peace, carefreeness (is that a word?), laughter, rest, confidence, humor, kindness, mercy, compassion. So then why does scripture say Jesus was “perfected through suffering”? Especially since he was already perfect?

I believe it is talking about perspective. And since this is a blog on perspective, why not take this on.

I’ve been writing all about Jesus’ suffering on my God-in-a-Box blog this week. It’s heavy, sobering, amazing, and not very real to most of us, because it doesn’t make sense to a lot of thinking people. Why should he have to die so we don’t have to? Does God kill people? (Some of us don’t think so. But that’s for another blog.) Did God kill Jesus instead of us?

No. God didn’t kill Jesus–it’s right there in scripture–God let go. God stopped protecting Jesus, and as a man he died–evil killed him. Sin-which is separation from God–killed him. And that IS what God wants us to know.

We are separated from God on this planet. Not because God wants it that way, but because our first parents chose it for us. They said, “I don’t know if I can believe God; I don’t trust Him; I’ll do what I feel and think I should.” That made separation (sin) for them. For us it’s also become “I don’t believe there is a God.” or “I don’t need God and don’t want Him,”–and that will kill you because you aren’t made to live independently of Him. He is your source. He is life. And light, And love…everything good.

So is He everything bad too?

NO. Evil is the bad. God has no evil in Him. I think evil is a very big, very old, very long story. (One that I have shortened into 55 pages and it’s coming out next week on kindle, (God willing) under the title Love’s Playbook.)

And evil will kill you. It killed Jesus when he came here as a man. That is what the whole universe needed to know–the destructive nature of evil. God doesn’t want us to die, but being pure, stable energy, He does consume evil–unbalanced, unstable energy. So if you are evil, and come into God’s presence, guess what?

That is our problem. God doesn’t want to be away from us. But we became half evil when our world’s first parents chose it for us, and there was no way to keep us alive, unless we would choose against evil, and choose good. But how? We were quickly losing our power to choose by either not choosing, or by making poor choices. And then God’s adversary said God couldn’t forgive us because we are evil, and it can’t be reversed.

If God is anything, He is relational. And he loves intensely everything He made. But He wanted us to be able to love too, (love is a choice) so He made us capable of choosing. And believe it or not, we still are.

But who is going to choose God if they are scared to death of Him? If they think He is responsible for evil and death and suffering? Ah, I finally got back to our original topic.

That is how and why God came to be Jesus–perfected through suffering.

I see God as one office or position filled by three beings. One of those God-beings offered to transform into a human baby, become one of us, go through our life and death (the “second death” in scripture) to show the universe what God is like and what They will do for those They love. God was willing to become a man, not use any of His power, but live totally dependent on God as we can. I should say, as we get to.

That is why He had to be perfected through suffering. He needed to go through everything we go through and more. He lived our life without being contaminated by evil. He suffered–has EXPERIENCED evil–from our human perspective. That is how He became the perfect conqueror of evil and won the right to give us his triumph, if we choose it.

http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

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