Tag Archives: why we suffer

Caught in the Middle

The past two weeks I passed a test–one of universal importance. Sounds crazy, I know, but it became obvious my loyalty and faithfulness to God were being tested. And there is no test when things go my way. I learned I had a belief that if I didn’t get what I wanted, He didn’t love me. Later, it matured into not getting “what I needed.” Would I let Him down or turn on Him if I didn’t?

I love doing events, the biggest was my daughter’s wedding in our backyard. We were blessed. We got everything we wanted except sunshine. My daughter was perfectly ok with that. I wasn’t. This past weekend was much smaller–a prayer retreat in the same place. But I’m a perfectionist and can get stressed over them. I wasn’t going to this time, and I’ve been successful before.

We had redone some of our yard because the almond tree died, and had to be removed. We planted a new little tree and my husband decided to widen the path to the gazebo. It turned out well, but keeping it well till April 30 turned into a struggle.

The abundant rain stopped; gophers heaved up ground, the bugs ate my ornamental cabbages and primroses that lined the path; the temperature went up to 90–crazy for April and primroses; the east wind blew, not once, but three different times importing gobs of pine needles and mandating daily watering, and I knew the dark side had been given permission to wreak havoc. God had told me, “Rest is a weapon,” and I hung on to that.

The remains of dead baby mockingbirds were dropped on the path two different days, making me sad and silencing their mama for two weeks; my husband got sick with a terrible cough which woke me so I was on two and three hours of sleep twice. At the last mowing, the lawnmower broke, it started leaking gas and kept quitting. I was nervous it might blow up or catch fire and told my husband to stop–it was good enough. The last wind came the day before, and I said to God, “If you don’t care, I won’t either.” Everything that had caused me to question the love and care of God before an event, happened. And this event was for Him. The last day I learned four weren’t coming–a downer.

Early on, I made up my mind I wouldn’t fail this time. And I didn’t! It was actually a peaceful, restful, happy two weeks of being very aware of God’s presence.

Heard of Job? It’s the earliest-written book of the Bible and the clearest window on the war we live in. A myth? I don’t think so. There is too much evidence that Moses wrote it, and a lot of historical references in it. The Septuagint has Job married to Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. I think Moses was trying to work out his own issues with God after his plans (which he thought were God’s plans) went south. It’s hard to understand when that happens.

Job’s story pulls back the curtain to help us understand an apparent discrepancy in scripture. Many places say that God tested people (especially in the wilderness), yet James, the one who grew up with Jesus, says God doesn’t test or tempt anyone. Job’s story explains that Satan questions us, and he is apparently continually asking to test all of us who belong to God to show we are phonies.

Remember how Jesus told Peter, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat (and apparently all of them), but I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail.” Why would God allow that?

It answers the question behind the war in the universe. Satan is the adversary of God and the accuser of us (see link below for my book that tells the story). He not only accuses us, but has accused God of being arbitrary, selfish and not fit to rule.

And rather than just say that it isn’t true, God has allowed us to be exhibit A of evidence: the demonstration of the truth to the on-looking universe . We are helping God win His (Their) case or trial. (They put themselves on trial. Romans 3:4) And what is more convincing than someone willing to believe in God’s goodness when He apparently lets you down?

But you can’t do that unless you know Him–really know Him (Them) as in experiencing Their love and care in a relationship. It isn’t enough to know about Them–it won’t get you through the tests Satan has designed for you. But don’t worry, God knows you, and He only allows what you particularly can make it through if you stay connected. And the rewards are enormous.

http://amazon.com/author/arlacaraboolad  Love’s Playbook episode 1 is the story of the beginning of the war between good and evil. Job’s story is there too–episode 4.

 

 

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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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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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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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