Tag Archives: suffering

Far-fetched Ideas?

Is it a far-fetched idea to believe we live in the middle of  a war with a perspective way bigger than we can imagine? It might have been 100 years ago before the Hubble and the Hadron Collider. Or if you had never read the Bible. But if you had read the Bible with an open mind even then you had a window into the bigger picture; like 17th century author  John Milton, a blind poet.

And if you read the whole thing putting the bits and pieces together, a story emerges that is even bigger than our redemption. That is just a corner of it. Some people will be offended by that, and that’s ok. It’s just that when you have seen more suffering than most people because of your job, it pushes you to big questions more often than most people go there.

The little boy who was killed a year ago on our street lost his mother by suicide this past week. What will happen to the little girl who pushed the brother (playing) now that her brother and mother are gone? How will she grow up? How will she ever make sense of life? Thank God for a bigger picture window on the universe that helps us understand suffering. I hope she gets it. And though I don’t know her, thank God I can ask Them* to carry her and to send someone to tell her what she needs to know before her brain is damaged by hideous self-talk. I can even ask Them to run interference with the self-talk and  let her know They are with her.

Suffering is a reality here. No one escapes it. And what you do with the suffering makes all the difference for you personally. If you lean into it, and into God, you will be walked through it and grow like you can’t imagine. Afterwards, you will look back and say it was horrible but it was good for you.

What will happen to this little girl if she fights or denies the pain and walks away from God? It will make her hard and bitter, blaming herself, and steal her life. That is unless she is told God caused it and that’s why she  walks away from it.

God does NOT cause suffering. True, They don’t stop it. They can’t always, or it would end freedom, and that is Their highest value. Well, actually, love is Their highest value, but They have to have freedom to have love, so They are adamant about freedom.

The rub is the enemies, that love to cause us pain just because God loves us (all three of Them). We are loved–well loved. They can turn tragedy into forgiveness with our choice of acceptance. Opening up to Their love will create beauty instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

 

*Them. If you haven’t read last week’s blog, it explains my concept of three beings in one God position.

 

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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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Choice — Guest Post by Loxlia Paltz

I found myself in the dark of night this week. That black space where the silence covers you like a heavy blanket. I was there, on the floor in the bathroom, sobs born of my own weakness, my failure, shaking my bones. The only sound–my heart splintering in my chest. Why did say that? That’s not me. I didn’t mean to. Didn’t want to. It didn’t matter. It’s the worst thing I could have done to him.

And He was there. Whispering comfort. Promising the future. Forgiving. Always there.

For days I’ve thought of this approaching Easter, this celebration of His resurrection, my head twisting all around it. Do I get it? Really “get” it?

I’m not sure I did.

I don’t even like to say that. It feels wrong. But it’s truth, stark honesty of my humanity.

Many have died for His name, tortured and disfigured, refusing to deny Him. Many even crucified. Peter, His Peter, crucified upside down, feeling unworthy of dying His death.

And we dress up, go to church, and hear about this Son of God crucified for us. Risen from the dead. And it fits neatly into a little package in our minds. Yes, we’re grateful. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it absolutely changes lives. But do we really get it?

What made Him different? Able to save? Was it His divinity? His humanity?

What made Him choose me? In those splintering moments of anguish that I cannot make sense of, what was different?

Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. And it was neither His humanity nor His divinity that made Him different. It was both. He grew from a baby, learning about life and about God just as we do, in a time of strife and conflict–statistics of that time show high death rates, crushing poverty, and persecution. All those things that developed His compassion, His awareness of suffering and pain.

It is learning to suffer, to feel, that makes us able to fully love. We are not as humans able to dissect our hearts. We cannot choose to only feel love. If we are to feel love we must be willing to suffer. We must learn to suffer. We must live–hearts wide-open.

I’m struck by this. Undone by the thought that it was the careful development of Christ’s humanity that made him the only atoning sacrifice. That His humanity could not have carried the weight if not carefully woven with His unused divinity. He could have at any moment chosen, “That’s it, I’m not doing this, its not worth it.”

And it would have been true. I am not worth it.

He chose me. There in those moments, when the fullness of His humanity tested the fullness of His divinity. He chose me. He embraced the crushing anguish. The brutality. The very worst darkness ever known, death and separation from His Father. He surrendered to it. Not in weakness, by choice He went there.

He was ravaged and broken by my brokenness. Held it in His hands and said, “I choose you”. A warrior in battle surging onto the front lines. Giving every last ounce of Himself for me. For you. And then He lay silent. Dead. It was over.

They had taken it all. His very breath. I had taken it all. With my wounds and weakness, the dark corners of my heart, I had taken everything He had. His humanity, His divinity, spilled onto the rock for me. He died my death–my broken, sinful, separating, human death–by choice. Because He loves me.

Then the sun rose and there in His divinity He walked out of my tomb. Broke the shackles off of my forever darkness, just walked out into the light. And that is what is different. It was not His humanity nor His divinity, that made Him my atonement. My rescuer. It was His love. His choice. I am always His choice.

His reckless love takes on the very greatest anguish to never be apart from me. To never have to let me go. In spite of my flaws, my weakness, the crippling weight of my guilt, He made the world His stage to show His love.

He loves me. Really loves me. By choice.

And there it is – Choice. The defining word.

Love is never love without choice. It is the choosing, the action, that makes it love. It is willingness to suffer that allows us to love. And there has never been anyone more willing to suffer.

Nothing can ever separate me from Him. Nothing. Because the question was my freedom, my heart. And in all my messiness He chose me. Wrapped His broken body around my shattered heart and chose me.

The difference is Love. Wild, reckless, unchanging love. The difference is Him.

I really get it. He is completely mine. So very completely that my death has already been endured. Already been conquered. Just because He loves me.

I, in awe and surrender, can simply dare to be Loved.

 

by Loxlia  http://Godhelps.net/About us    also   http://Brokenbeautyproject.com

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Mandela — A Guide to Being You

I’ve written how I loved Invictus, a movie about Mandela and how he used the rugby team to solidify South Africa. I remember Matt Damon (team captain) going to visit the prison where Mandela spent 27 years, and in wonder spreading his arms to touch both walls, both ways of the 8×8 cell. There was a hard-back chair and that was all.

I still can’t imagine it–how anyone could survive that and come out as a beacon of love and forgiveness. But he did. One man can change a country, a world.

Inspiration like that doesn’t last long unless you feed it. Have you noticed that? But how can we keep it alive?

The same way he achieved his amazing triumph of spirit–by choice.

It just now came to me. He was in an easier place to do the thing we don’t do, because in that kind of desolate place, it is continually before you every waking minute–choose! You have to choose how to think about this, how to relate to it, or your emotions will eat you alive.

Here’s what I know: in that situation emotions take over and fire up every possible kind of anger, fear, and despair–running the gamut and determining your perspective. Or you completely shut down and go into depression, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

The grinding day after day sameness and privation would break most of us, but not Mandela; or you, if you believed in choice like he did and if you were committed to right like he was. The one line of “Invictus,” the poem he kept with him continually, says it all, “I am the captain of my soul.”

In other words, I don’t have to react, I can choose and depend on Goodness and Love to bring it around–eventually.

Sometimes all you can choose is your perspective, but that is yours. And no one can take that if you don’t allow them to choose how you see or how you react.

Think about that. You are capable of choice.

My husband and I are currently reading the prophet Hosea in the Holy Scriptures. What has jumped at me is God’s perspective on pain. He says He took them to the Valley of Achor (Suffering or Troubling) as a door of hope.

Really? Say again… So He did. When they had plenty, they became full and left Him…they didn’t need Him when it was good and forgot that He was their Source, their protector, their happiness.

If God blessed them they forgot Him. That became a huge problem for Israel. Over and over it happened. They either didn’t believe that He really loved and cared for them, or they didn’t care. But again and again when things got good they forgot about their living God and ran after gods they created.

Suffering was their safety.

Suffering is one of our best teachers, and we have another sublime example of it in Mandela’s life.

Suffering forces choice. But it’s not God’s desire.

His problem and ours is that when things are good enough we forget about God and choice.

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When Bad things Happen…

I think God gets blamed for things He doesn’t do.

Many think if God is sovereign–all powerful–why do we suffer?

Especially if He’s already won?

Why doesn’t He stop things?

In my first job out of college–teaching in the California women’s prison, the number one question I was asked was, “If there’s a loving God why did He allow what happened to me as a child?”

It’s taken 40 years to come up with a good answer, and I call it The Story Behind Our Story.

I made it the last chapter in my book, The Worst Evil–Losing Yourself, and truly, I told it as faithfully as I could through human eyes. The gist of it is that God values love and freedom. He wanted a government based on love and that requires freedom.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. And it requires three things:

1.  beings capable of making choices

2.  real alternatives to choose

3.  that God allow and honor their choices.

It’s important to note here that God started us out with only good–we  were only attracted to good, only responded to good.

Originally we didn’t have this pull to evil or selfishness. Now we respond to good and evil. We’re pulled both ways.

So what happened? If we were only good…why is there evil now?’

First, we have to learn to think much bigger than we have been taught.

We have to understand that if God desired only Love, then He had to allow freedom.

We have to be allowed real choices that are really respected.

Creation was great until He was opposed, but then He had to allow the whole thing to play out.

Because the entire universe needed truth to be evident to all.

I’m sure that God tried over and over to reclaim the dissident–show him where he was headed, what would happen if he insisted doing his own thing.

But once evil is embraced, it takes hold –like cancer–it destroys good.

The war was on.

Now the question arose: who is responsible?

If God had completely separated from the opposition, they would have died.

But the whole watching universe would have wondered who caused their demise?

Enter, the developmental model.

The plan to give creatures procreation was a great stage for the truth to become obvious. It’s my belief that it was already a design in God’s mind, as another means of showing love. But now, though extremely risky, it was also the most powerful demonstration of good and evil choices.

If we embrace love we hand it down to  our offspring–even with broken natures.

If we embrace evil we hand it down to our offspring with its resulting death.

Again, we were started out good–with freedom.

Choices become the building blocks of our identity (also known as character).

Twenty-plus years as a Family Systems Therapist proved to me that generations usually repeat their dysfunctions. Sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse.

Perception is a choice. There are always two ways, at least, to see things. But evil is resident here.

I like things simple. So I believe the Genesis story. And how exciting that science is catching up to endorsing it!

If evil moved in with Eve’s choice, then the Garden went from 99% good and 1% evil to 50% good and 50% evil.

God put a boundary on evil inside of us. He gave us a hatred for it. (Genesis 3:15) So I believe that it has to keep balanced unless we choose or agree with one or the other.

God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He will keep safe what is His. But He won’t force you to be his friend.  Neither will He force you to heal your brokenness.

The good news is God is always looking for ways to get through to you, to show you His Love. He doesn’t give up until you can’t hear or see Him anymore, until you truly are “done” with Him. And He is the only one who really knows when that is.

If you need a bigger, better picture of God, and suffering, come to my blog for five minutes a day. In a year you will have the most compact and comprehensive picture of God available. http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

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“God isn’t like That!”

I’m sitting in my gazebo listening to trees sighing, baby birds cheeping, the warm morning sun on my back.

I’m smelling the sweetness of white Freesia, in a vase in front of me, intermittently wafted with the fragrance of Honeysuckle, overflowing the corner beside me, as I watch the Mockingbirds feed their babies. Their nest is just across from me, built inside the wrapped vines of Pink Bower Vine, six feet away.

This must be close to experiencing heaven, I think.

I watch the birds swoop in and land, deposit their treasures into squeaking little mouths, and fly away for more.

I marvel at their instincts–the care that looks like love to me–yet comes from a tiny bird brain, and I think You really can see God in nature–that’s what God is like–making tiny creatures look so loving even though it’s all just instinct–reflective of His love.

I love it that the parents aren’t afraid of me. (I’m down here every day, writing; they’ve obviously gotten used to me.) I’m reluctant to leave my idyllic retreat to go to work–hearing people’s pain. I don’t mind if I can help, and usually I can.

Maybe I am like the birds to God–feeding little squeaking minds. Even though my tiny brain can’t comprehend His love, I “get” just enough to be able to help others, and  assure them He is real and cares–the Biblical description of faith… It’s a good job.

But I hear so much of what God is not like, so much pain inflicted on people: deaths, divorces, people who can’t get past limiting beliefs given by their parents. Rejection, jealousy of siblings, pain of abuse, misinterpreting actions of preoccupied parents, all steal our joy, leaving us wondering where is God?

So much of what happens here is not reflective of God, not representative. God isn’t like that! Especially the occasional massacre of innocents that shocks and debilitates our faith. We know it isn’t God. Yet atrocities cause questions.

“Why?” we ask.

“Where is God? How can He be loving? Why doesn’t He stop it?”

There is a short answer. But most people don’t find it very helpful, love and freedom.

The long answer is in my blog, God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox, at http://Godhelps.net which will be starting again April 14. You can sign up to have it come to your inbox five days a week. It’s less than 250 words a day. In fact, you can sign up here on WordPress at http://911forsoldiers.wordpress.com and I hope you will.

There you will learn, one day at a time, for a year, the Biblically-documented story of the war we live in, and why Jesus came to our planet. It’s a great story. Perhaps the greatest. And you’ll get to see what God is really like.

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