Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Category

Hope in Despair

Posted: March 9, 2010 in religion, Suffering

Even in our anguish we are not alone.

Jesus said “I am not alone because the Father is with me” John16 :32

When we read Jesus, on the Cross crying out, “My God!, My God!, Why have you forsaken me?” we can only partially understand His loss and the anguish of that loss in view of John 16:32.

The two verses, read side by side show us the Savior enduring the agonizing loss of the eternal relationship of the Triune fellowship.
For us it sheds light on our own spiritual highs and lows. How terrible the sense of aloneness we ourselves experience during times of testing and loss.We then long for the intimate nearness of God in our consciousness and in our lives.

Remember the despair and darkness of Gethsamene and Calvary. Remember the Resurrection. Christ will arise in our despair, He will shed light in our darkness.

J. Robinson
March 9, 2010

Is there value in suffering?

Posted: February 2, 2010 in Suffering, Theology

 This is an article I wrote 5 years ago during hard times and after I heard the story of Scott Willis’s family tragedy recounted here. I initially named it “The Horror of Knowing God”. While I am sure that Title is an affront to all who have never experienced the trials of Job, at the time horror was exactly what I felt.

God has since caused me to understand that life can indeed be horrible and that the horror is rooted in sin and in following the destroyer and father of lies. In other words Adam’s transgression condemned mankind to sorrow in this life.  Fortunately for us God immediately began the program of man’s redemption and restoration through His Son’s propitious sacrifice for our sins. Still, until the day we see Him and become like Him we will each have our own share of suffering, only now with hope and the grace to bear it.

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God may, for a time, take the hedge of His protection away, in order to try the reins of our heart.

Read Lamentations 3.1-18

AW Tozer said, ” It is doubtful that God can use a man mightily without first bruising him greatly”.

When you suffer and are being afflicted one of two things will eventually happen;

  1. You will find Gods grace to endure, knowing, because you know who He is,that it is ‘ a momentary light affliction, for your good as a son or daughter or else;

2. You will break and give Satan the momentary victory , which will cause you even more sorrow.

There is a third thing that could happen and did happen with someone I know, the complete collapse of faith and utter repudiation of his Christian confession. Pray God that your suffering does not become so important to you that you allow yourself to sell your salvation so cheaply.

If you sin in your suffering get up, go to your father and He will restore you for His mercies are renewed daily. He knew anyway what would happen and even the failure was for your benefit in the end.

In his ‘Systematic Theology’ pg. 319 ,Wayne Grudem states;:

” The doctrine of concurrence affirms that God directs and works through, the distictive properties of each created thing, so that these things themselves bring about the results that we see. In this way it is possible to affirm that in one sense events are fully (100 percent) caused by God and fully (100 percent) caused by creature as well. …The divine cause of each event works as an invisible, behind the scenes, directing cause and therefore could be called the “primary cause” that plans and initiates everything that happens.”

Scripture to Affirm this doctrine;

(Job 14.5) ” Man’s days are determined and the number of months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.” ;

(Ps.139:16) ” In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” ;

(Prov. 16.33 ) ” The lot is cast in the lap but the decision is wholly from the Lord.” ;

Ecclesiasties from the NET Bible translation, (Ecc. 3.11) ” God has made everything fit beautifully in it’s appropiate time; but He has also placed ignorance ( darkness, eternity, the world) in the human heart, so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives.”;

(Jer.1.5) ” Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” ;

( Jer.10.23) “I know Oh Lord that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man to direct his steps.” ;

(Lam. 3.7-38) ” Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth?”

Scott Willis , a young man , married his high school sweetheart. Soon afterwards she became a christian with Scott quickly following. Eventually Scott entered the ministry and was greatly blessed with nine children that they truly considered a blessing, as arrows in the quiver and strength from the Lord.

In 1994 Scott Willis and his wife and six of their youngest children were on vacation. While driving on the expressway a commercial truck  lost a metal brace. Scott had no time to avoid the piece of steel and so tried to guide his vehicle over it. The assembly punctured the gas tank and with the sparks caused by being dragged on the road the tank exploded, immediately engulfing the automobile in flames. Before Scott had time to stop to rescue his children, five had burned to death, his thirteen year old son died the next day. In the hospital Scott was able to reach out to his wife and say ” Blessed be the name of the Lord.”.

Scott and his family were ‘made’ by their suffering, and so are many others of His saints who have suffered throughout the history of the world. Our fear is that if these worthy ones suffer so greatly then what hope do we have? For what do we wait, what hope for us doubting ones?

We are not more righteous than God and must not contend with Him ( Isa. 45.9), though perhaps we may be allowed to wrestle with Him as Jacob did, reverentially remembering God’s word to Job about laying hands on ‘Leviathan’, “remember the battle and do so no more!” Remembering that;

“The Lord is Good, a stronghold in the day of trouble and He knows those that trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)

” Why should any living mortal offer complaint in view of his sins?” ( Lam. 3.39)

” I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and accomplish justice for me, He will bring me forth into the light and I shall see His righteousness.” (Micah 7.9)

” Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the olive tree yield no fruit and there be no grain in the fields, though the flock be cut off from the fold and there are no herds in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, the God of my salvation. Jehovah Elohim is my strength and He will make my feet like Hinds feet and He will make me walk on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3.17-19, )

We who believe are called to forsake all, take up our cross and follow Christ, to imitate Him. And what does that mean but the certainty of suffering in this world.

” Our imitation of Christ is especially evident in suffering. Christians are called to endure suffering patiently, ‘ because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.'” (1 Peter 4.13). Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg.845.

And what does the word say of Christ’s suffering?

” And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe around Him, and after braiding a crown of thorns they put it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand, and kneeling down before Him, they mocked Him. Hail, King of the Jews! They spat on Him and took the staff and repeatedly struck Him on the head. When they finished they stripped Him and put His own clothes back on and led Him out to be crucified.” (Matthew 27.28-31 NET Bible)

We do not know all that He suffered those last hours, but we know that He was “made sin” for our sakes (Rom. 8:3) and that He carried the sins of the whole world upon Himself, and finally we know that He did it for us.

(Isa.53.3-5)

” He was despised and rejected by people, One who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their face from Him, He was despised, and we considered Him insignificant. But He lifted up Our illnesses, He carried Our pain, even though we thought He was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something He had done.

He was wounded because of Our rebellious deeds, crushed because of Our sins; He endured punishment that made Us well, and because of His wounds We have been healed.”

” He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities.”

The world suffers as well, only without hope, so let us who suffer with hope endure with joy knowing that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to God’s purpose”. (Rom8.28) And since we are called for Gods purpose, as vessels to be used as He will, let us be vessels of honor, useful for every good work. After all, we find that not only is He our God, but more than all else, He is our Father.

Read Lamentations 3.19-33

Amen.

Endnotes

 

** Tozer also wrote in “The Pursuit of God”;

“The Bible assumes as a self-evident fact that men can know God with at least the same degree of immediacy as they know any other person or thing that comes within the field of their experience. The same terms are used to express the knowledge of God as are used to express knowledge of physical things. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” “All thy garments smell Of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.” “My sheep hear my voice.” “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” These are but four of countless such passages from the Word of God. And more important than any proof text is the fact that the whole import of the Scripture is toward this belief.”

See More on Scott Willis at http://www.hopeway.org/gospel/ScottWillis.asp