““Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
(Matthew 5:3–12 ESV)
If we were to read these as they are written, we would want to whack anybody who said “God bless you”… because it appears that in the kingdom of God blessing usually comes through suffering.
We might as well say, “May God cause you to suffer”.
Instead of “have a nice day”…we might say “may your co-workers mock you and lie about you because you’re a Christian today”.
That should elicit rejoicing from the recipient of the blessing given.
That’s what the passage says.
In reality, when faced with that kind of suffering we make a prayer request that it would stop.
We run from suffering…I run from suffering…the Bible says we’re to embrace and sanctify suffering.
It says God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
It takes all my strength to be that weak.
When we suffer we assume that we have lost the favor of God…when we may be basking in it, albeit uncomfortably.
Love , (as modeled by Jesus) is often sacrificial and sacrificial requires some amount of suffering or it isn’t a sacrifice.
To be able to forgive “7×70” requires you to maintain relationship with someone after they have clobbered you more times than you can count and been forgiven every time they have done so.
The world will tell you to do so is psychologically unhealthy…Jesus says not to do so is evidence of spiritual sickness.
No, I’m not advocating that people put or keep themselves in harms way…I’m advocating that we wrestle with the truly radical nature of the kingdom of God and our place and behavior in it.
Mercy, grace, and forgiveness are wondrous to receive yet equally difficult to give… all three require that you be wounded, that you suffer, before you have them to offer.
If you truly want to grow in the grace and mercy of God then God is going to put you in places of suffering where you can exercise both.
He says it’ll be worth it in the end.
I have no choice but to trust Him as I’m “under the spout where the blessings come out”.
God bless you….
Make your own application
You just put into words a walk the Lord took me on last week… I was telling Him how much I hate the winter of the soul. I hate the loss of it. I hate the want of it. I hate the silence of it. I hate the waiting of it. I hate the barren of it. I hate the limbo of it…
Then He showed me a sick little blue spruce I have on my property. While most plants show their health, strength and bounty in spring/summer, the spruce get’s it survival probablity in the deep winter. Each frost it endures, the more likely it is to survive. God reminded me He wants me to be a deeply rooted stately tree…
And all this time, I thought I was a Lily.
This probably makes a good case that God does not intervene in our day to day lives, so he has left us with this advise, “deal with it.”
I am reading a few books right now…Train In Winter about a group of women Resisters in France during WWII and how they progress through being captured and taken to prison camps. Also reading a biography of Mother Teresa with the boys as we study India.
Also watching a few friends navigate amazing suffering at the moment.
The response for me has been a deep desire to go upstairs and close my door and pray.
Pray that I could grasp that the same Spirit who is alive in these people and in many others I read about, is also alive in me.
The same God who is walking through these seasons with these who I observe is the same God who dwells with me in my complacency and my comfort. And my laziness.
He is waiting for me to awaken, and I am deeply aware that sometimes the only way to awaken our spirits is through suffering or through loss or through…trial.
The same Spirit.
The same promises, the same God.
The same hope that these have experienced through suffering is there for me…but it may take the suffering for me to find that hope.
I am very aware of the blessings and the comfort I live within…healthy children, food without need, warmth.
There are moments that I am terrified by the ‘what if’s’ of how much could be taken from me…and yet, as I surround myself by the testimony of saints who have endured great trial, I am left with the hope that if I face that trial I will also endure because the same Spirit is within me.
Still…I hope that I can be found to respond to the call of the Spirit to fall on my face and pray with the same urgency and tenacity that comes from suffering when I am prompted by Him to pray in comfort and ease.
I do not know that that is possible, though.
So…yes, with a hesitancy and a hope combined I agree that grace seems to be learned more in suffering and those who endure much know God more deeply.
Yeah but…wasn’t Jesus just speaking these beatitudes to the people around him on that day? 😉
God bless you all today. Especially you MLD.
Interesting post. Without a doubt being a follower of Christ means suffering. But I see the beatitudes in a more positive light. I see them as indicatives or statements of a spiritual reality for all within the kingdom of God. What I mean by that is I see the Spiritual realm as tangible and interpreting and supporting the physical and not vice versa. I say that because we tend to see the spiritual as intangible and interpreted thru the physical. But The physical realm exists because it exists in the mind of God.
Here’s an illustration of what I mean: If I borrowed your car and drove it into a brick wall then said, “Sorry brother, I can’t replace or fix the damage but God will Bless you spiritually” You would think you got nothing! But the spiritual realm is real, and these blessings though spiritual are tangible and real. They are indicatives for all in the body of Christ in the kingdom or government of God regardless of what is going on in the physical. I love it!
Just some of my random thoughts
This is exactly what God has been teaching me for the past few years, and oh God it hurts, but He is there.
We choose the easy path. We miss the deeper blessing.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.
If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” 1Pet 4:12-19
Suffering is not just “sucking it it” or saying that “stuff happens, deal with it”. Suffering for Christ’s sake should be part of a Christians life. It should mark us as His kids – we suffer because He suffered. Not for sin, as Peter says, we shouldn’t suffer because we sinned and we get the consequences – we should be suffering for His sake. And our attitude toward it should be one of rejoicing, and knowing the God is allows our suffering.
Scott said, “Yeah but…wasn’t Jesus just speaking these beatitudes to the people around him on that day?”
LOL 🙂 Illustrates the dilemma of picking and choosing Universals don’t it?
Steve Hopkins said, “But The physical realm exists because it exists in the mind of God.”
Interesting point, one of the many issues I’ve been wrestling with lately.
Check this out: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/27/physicists-universe-giant-brain_n_2196346.html
I “think” Michael’s interpretation of this specific passage is one of many that are potentially “true”…and I think it is “true” for Michael and his conscience.
It appears the Universe is still “growing”…as Observational Science proves…God is “still” Creating.
Kind of blows the literal interpretation of Genesis as a Science Book out of the Cosmos…
“Kind of blows the literal interpretation of Genesis as a Science Book out of the Cosmos…”
Does the fact that I’m still growing blow Genesis out of the water?
Josh, are you aware of the vast dissimilarity of the biological process of you, a human being…and the quantum physical process of the Universes expansion?
They are apples and oranges…though the the “Universe operates like a giant brain” metaphor proposed recently by physicists does lean on an anthropomorphic analogy to impart a “truth”…similar to how Genesis anthropomorphizes God as having legs and “walking” and of course a talking snake etc.
Apparently, there is stuff the is being created from “nothing” this very moment…you are “growing” due to existing stuff in its biological process.
“Apparently, there is stuff the is being created from “nothing” this very moment”
1.) Yeah. Try and prove that.
2.) Lets say it is. Did you think Gen. 1:2 says “Then God stopped forever.” ?
Pardon my off topic question:
Alex, are you under a gag order?
“There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment; but as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.” Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living, p. 166.
Off topic –
“…The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.”
Monty Python – Galaxy Song.
Alex – The only thing this does is show that the Universe is expanding, not that Genesis is wrong. It may make some folks review their interpretation of Genesis and the creation account, but for the life of me, I don’t get this tanget.
Can we go back on topic? 😉
Chile, one can only hope.
I’m going to chime in one last time on this subject, and Michael can decide to what extent he wants the understanding of Scripture mocked on the blog he provides to the internet world. Certainly nothing has been stated by me that would not be stated by Calvin, Packer or any of the other blog heroes when it comes to exegesis.
When one adds a single word, like “just” or “only” one changes the meaning of someone’s entire point. The Scripture was not just/only for the initial audience. Paul wrote letters, including to the Corinthians, that were not Scripture. Jesus said and did many things not recorded in these books. OF COURSE, the Scripture has an application to the Church throughout history, including our present day. That’s why God made it Scripture. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable.
As to the Beatitudes above – The audience that would find these words the most radical in the history of the world since they were first spoken were His original hearers. Why? Because Jews under the Old Covenant understood relationship with God as different than this.
God in the Mosaic Covenant responded conditionally to the Jews, based on their righteousness and obedience to that covenant. This is FOUNDATIONAL in studying ALL the Gospels. Why would Jesus’ words about the rich be such a shock to those Jews (Who then can enter the kingdom? they would ask..) Because riches were seen under the Mosaic economy as a sign of the blessing of God. And on and on it goes…
Why did Jesus spend so much time, especially in the Upper Room Discourse (as well as here), talking about persecution for His Name’s sake. Because he wanted to comfort a bunch of American Christians who get their feelings hurt by somebody? Or maybe because most Christians, in most nations, throughout most of history (including the present day) face true persecuation to the extent of even imprisonment and death, simply for naming Jesus as Lord and Savior.
And their Lord has not forsaken them in such times!
That from then on, Jesus would bring division, not peace, to the world. Even families would be divided. We would flee persecution from city to city as possible.
This was radical to His audience. They were not, however, intended only to His initial audience. The sad thing is we have been so blessed (and thus so coddled) in America that they seem quite radical to us too. Whereas, most Christians just bow their head and say ‘Amen’ when hearing these words. The experience of ministring in a Christian-persecuted nation was invaluable for grasping this understanding.
You aren’t preparing then for persecution as if to educate on something new. You are exhorting with Scripture, much like hearing the Gospel itself to us who are already Born Again, is not to teach us something new but to exhort us in the truth we have already received and experienced.
Chile, no, just being prudent. Much is going on behind the scenes. I’m very happy with how things are taking shape (as are my attorneys). There is a bit of a lull right now as dates got pushed back a bit. I also needed a break from the stuff and this place is a good distraction to keep my mind occupied as there are some very interesting discussions/topics etc that I always wrestle with (have for years).
Papias, Genesis and that “tangent” is “on topic” in the subject of “interpretation of Scripture” which is always on topic when we wrestle with what passages in the bible “truly mean!” etc. That’s my take…and my take is all I got 🙂
I agree with what you stated…it doesn’t make Genesis “not truth”…it just means it might not be a literal Science Book…but more of a midrash’ic type of communication to impart some basic truths.
That’s the thing though. Nobody here said Genesis is a science book. Let’s assume it is not. That’s OK. Let’s move on. Today, Michael posted the Beatitudes and we were talking about the blessings inherent in suffering.
Josh, fair enough.
To the Beatitudes. It is very possible Michael’s take is true.
It is also possible that Jesus was speaking to a specific Group of folks at a specific time in human history under an oppressive male-dominated Roman and Jewish authority…and Jesus was simply giving them some hope and not teaching a Universal Doctrine of Suffering.
The same Jesus speaks to overcoming the world, prosperity and blessing etc. “that they might have life and have it more abundantly”, Parable of the Talents, etc etc.
I dunno. I do know there are many interpretations and applications of this passage that could be true.
my application? God isn’t sadistic – period. Every time life deals one of His children a blow He hurts – period.
doing a word search with any Bible software for “this world” one learns without a shadow of a doubt that we are walking now through enemy territory (how can one believe in God and doubt that Satan exists?) – for my part, at times, i’d like to just keep my head down, putting one foot in front of the other until i come out the other side, but that ignores Matthew 25
our teachers have stressed that we’re all sinners – no better than the next guy, etc., and that’s true, but we must be pretty important in the grand scheme of things to be tasked with bearing the name of the King here until He returns
post script – i think it’s okay to groan when we’re wounded, question when we can’t cope and pray with tears – we honor the Father, when we’re honest before Him IMHO 🙂
just sayin – again – addicted to the Phxp still
Of course that is true, and also true for any written word. That’s what discussion is about. Those different interpretations, which is most likely, and what that means for us today.
Josh said, “Of course that is true, and also true for any written word. That’s what discussion is about. Those different interpretations, which is most likely, and what that means for us today.”
Can homosexuals be pastors? Is Egalitarianism a valid position and biblically acceptable?
If not, why not, in light of your comment…
My #23 was in response to Alex @ 21.
Alex @ 24 – That is way off topic. If you really want my opinion on such things, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Josh, it wasn’t so much for your personal opinion, more to illustrate your (and others) Selective Fundamentalism.
And you think that is on topic with beatitudes, suffering? You can email me, or maybe post it in an old thread where nobody will notice that we are going way off topic.
Thanks, Alex. That update would be helpful over there.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled program. Entertaining as usual.
Steve Wright: “Why did Jesus spend so much time, especially in the Upper Room Discourse (as well as here), talking about persecution for His Name’s sake. Because he wanted to comfort a bunch of American Christians who get their feelings hurt by somebody? Or maybe because most Christians, in most nations, throughout most of history (including the present day) face true persecuation to the extent of even imprisonment and death, simply for naming Jesus as Lord and Savior.”
This is why I’m so hesitant to even speak on suffering. I really have no idea what it means to suffer for Christ.
Inconvenienced sometimes, sure. Suffered…nope.
I have renewed my reading of Voice of the Martyrs and in talking to my boys about Christianity in some of the countries we are studying (India, China, Korea, Iran…) we have talked about how it is so difficult to get our minds around what life like that would be.
Still, there is great suffering in our midst with friends who have children who are sick, friends who have elderly parents who are disappearing while still physically with us. This is suffering, and in the midst of this suffering we find that God is able to speak to us and minister to us and teach us in ways that cannot happen in other settings. That is not suffering for Christ…it is part of walking through life in a broken world. Much of Michael’s post applies still…that God is present in our sufferings of the broken kind as well as the persecution kind.
Still…comments like yours, Steve, make me pause and realize how at ease I am in my following of God. As Michael said, it is not that we go out and seek out suffering, but the understanding that when we face suffering we can do so with a confidence that God will be found there.
I do want to point out that the New Testament doesn’t only point out suffering as a result of persecution. We all suffer, and God is there, in the suffering, even when the suffering is of our own making.
I have found 1 Peter to be tremendous on the topic of suffering, and suffering with purpose in mind. Again, nobody likes suffering. That’s why its called suffering. But we can suffer with the knowledge that God is with us, and is at work in our lives.
This is even true for American Christians who don’t face real persecution very often.
pray for this one today?
From the Linkathon yesterday:
Wanted to make sure we saw this in regards to suffering –
“Second, in any suffering, or in any other event for that matter, God is doubtless doing many things, perhaps thousands of things, millions of things, even if we can only detect two or three or a handful. A godly woman in her middle years is diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer. What is God doing? My little brain can imagine several possibilities. At one level, he may be providentially allowing the effluents of the Fall to take their course, a constant reminder that it is appointed to all of us to die, and then face judgment (Heb 9). He may be preparing her for eternity: it is a great grace to know when you are going to die, and prepare for it. He may be shocking her 20-something son, who is living his life indifferent to the gospel, to prod him into self-examination and repentance. He may use her testimony about the joy of the Lord even in the midst of suffering to call another of her children into vocational ministry. He may be using her as a way to teach people in her church what it looks like to “die well,” anticipating several other deaths in the next two years. He may be teaching her minister-husband to slow down and care about his family, and in principle other people, instead of being endlessly busy with “the ministry.” He may be sparing her from living long enough to witness the moral destruction of her daughter. Her funeral may be the means by which several of her unconverted relatives, for whom she has been praying, will come to faith — conversions for which she would happily give her life. Perhaps one of those converts will become a Christian pastor of rare gift whose ministry of proclamation will touch thousands. Perhaps she is hiding some deep bitterness and hate in her life, and God is using this means to confront her.
I’ve barely started a list of possible things God may be doing, and I have a small brain. What does the omniscient God think he is doing? In other words, sometimes we have to cover our mouths and confess, in faith, that we cannot possibly grasp all that God is doing when someone suffers. So why should we think in antithetical terms about how God must be doing this but not that, when in reality he may be doing this and that and that, and that and. . . ? But he is trustworthy; we know that, for he sent his Son to suffer on our behalf.”
Additionally, I wanted to make a small point about suffering and its uniqueness to the individual. We, in Christ, will all suffer. Perhaps not to the same degree and certainly not the same type of suffering as another.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross , and follow Me.”
“In other words, sometimes we have to cover our mouths and confess, in faith, that we cannot possibly grasp all that God is doing when someone suffers. So why should we think in antithetical terms about how God must be doing this but not that, when in reality he may be doing this and that and that, and that and. . . ? But he is trustworthy; we know that, for he sent his Son to suffer on our behalf.”
Additionally, I wanted to make a small point about suffering and its uniqueness to the individual. We, in Christ, will all suffer. Perhaps not to the same degree and certainly not the same type of suffering as another.”
And Em’s comment that God is not sadistic.
Suffering sucks, no doubt.
The narrative of the New Testament seems to promote in some parts that the rich and comfortable and powerful in this existence who lord over folks, mistreat them, oppress etc will get their suffering in the next…seems to be a very Roman-era narrative…though seems to apply to other similar set of governmental/socio/cultural contexts in history.
…and conversely that those who suffer at their hands in the here-and-now will get their reward in heaven and reap much blessing later.
I think the above is in the context of martyrs of the faith during Roman times and certainly those truly persecuted today in other countries that kill, torture etc for being a Christian. I think Christ was preparing those folks for the imminent/immediate persecution that was coming at the hands of the Romans after Christ’s return after resurrecting.
I think it probably doesn’t apply to us cushy Americans who think “persecution” is a negative comment on a blog, a bad online review or calling another a jerk or being told to shut the frick up, etc.
meant to thank nomans and Sarah – their #s 1 & 3 blessed me this morning
hmmm, “persecution” is all of it to the glory of God? … can we expect to be blessed for everything we suffer now? … do we try to get ourselves off the hook where accountability is concerned by claiming persecution? … just pondering … and praying for wisdom – again
@17, 30, and 35 – I don’t really understand the idea that, because others have suffered more (and still suffer more in other parts of the world), that Scriptures don’t speak to the sufferings of normal American Christians. I’d have to completely disagree with that assertion. People may not be losing limbs for the gospel, but they are losing children to disease, etc. Jesus cares.
First off, on the subject of the rich, I was reading Matt 19:23-24 this week. Jesus says that ITS HARD for a rich man to enter heaven. The more I ponder that, the scarier it gets. I mean, I’m not rich according to USA standards, but I also am not worrying about my next meal(yet), so in another context, I am rich. What makes being rich such a issue with entering heaven? Is it only “the love of money”, or is there more?
Also, I don’t want to think of suffering as persecution. Its more than that. Its bigger and wider and deeper than persecution, in whatever form that takes. Without becoming dramatic(think “Woe is me!”), suffering seems to be a mark of a Christian, not the exception.
And while I don’t want to minimize your suffering, because Jesus doesn’t do that, your suffering …isnt right… or fair….or just. It sucks. Recognize that sometimes….it may seem like the only one in your corner is Jesus. And that you may never see the whole purpose for your suffering on this side of heaven.
Alex. I just felt like sharing that. If you are offended, then mods, please delete this comment.
A little off topic….OK maybe alot.
The NHL season starts tomorrow (finally), and hopefully the LA Kings will once again make the other teams SUFFER for the shortness of this season! 🙂
Today’s post was amazing and just what I needed to hear.
Thank you Michael.
Papias, thanks for sharing that. Not offended at all, I think there’s a lot of truth in what you stated. I’m more focused on channeling it into a Just Cause that I believe is righteous.
“I’m going to chime in one last time on this subject, and Michael can decide to what extent he wants the understanding of Scripture mocked on the blog he provides to the internet world.”
Wow, really? Such bluster and flourish?
The sacred texts of our faith can more than withstand a little mockery lest we become equals to The Taliban
Honest dialog and struggle to understand and learn need not be derided with a shaming tone and remark.
The only way people learn is to really wrestle with the claims and counterclaims of others who are also working toward an understanding of our sacred texts.
A teacher that inspires will scant fear “mockery” to be stated so that patient and reasoned discourse might produce incremental understanding, maybe not today, but perhaps after reflection the mocker revisit and end mockery
Well, now that G has stated that I am nearing “Taliban” status for taking issue with mocking the interpretation of Scripture, I will just remark to both Sarah and Josh that I certainly was not diminishing the reality of suffering in terms of sickness, lost loved ones, finances and many other issues. The sufferings that are common to all as part of this fallen world. Yes, Jesus is with us in those times, and those times are also opportunities to share our wonderful hope in the Savior with those suffering who do not yet know Him.
And I do not believe either of you were arguing I was diminishing such suffering. And I thank you for the courtesy.
At the same time, there most certainly is a prominent teaching from our Lord, found here in the Beatitudes and elsewhere, of suffering SOLELY because we belong to Christ. Suffering for His Name’s sake. The Beatitutes mention this, as do many other places. That was what I was focusing on, without meaning to ignore the other.
inspired by Alex’s learned scientific assertions here
from NASA’s imagine the universe website
“The issue of entropy in gravitating systems is indeed one issue which has not yet been resolved satisfactorily. Let me see if I get your train of thought: you think that a closed Universe, by requiring all matter in it to revert to a state of contraction would violate the second law because we learn from gases that they generally tend to expand if given the volume? If this is indeed your argument, it is not totally correct, as it is based on the notions of entropy developed from the study of non-interacting gases. Once interactions become important, then while entropy may still represent disorder, that notion of disorder is different from that obtained by looking at a non-interacting gas. You can think of the intricate snowflake patterns as such an example. Their formation represents a higher entropy situation for the given conditions of temperature and density and yet they are not disordered at all. The difference comes about because of the intermolecular interactions.
Gravity acts in a similar fashion. The difference is that these interactions are long range and affect the evolution of the gas at all times and not only when the temperature becomes small enough. So the recontraction of the Universe does not decrease its entropy; it takes place precisely because of the action of the gravitational force. In fact the evolution of the Universe is totally adiabatic, as far as the matter content is concerned (if one assumes that it remains homogeneous and isotropic) since the gravitational field does work on the gas to contract it and heat it up . Now, Penrose has argued that that as far as the gravitational field is concerned, homogeneity and isotropy are very unlikely conditions. The gravitational field wants matter to be clumped and therefore, as you have guessed, as the Universe progresses (whether it recontracts or not) it should become increasingly inhomogeneous (which is of course observed). In the recontracting phase these inhomogeneities get greatly amplified and would push the entire matter of the Universe into a large number of black holes, i.e. the collapse will be very inhomogeneous. This inhomogeneity provides a great increase in gravitational entropy, much more than that one gets by the (possible) decrease due to the compression of the gas. So the second law remains valid. ”
so then it seems very clear to me that … we are … very gaseous 😀
Em, LOL. Nice one 🙂
G, “The sacred texts of our faith can more than withstand a little mockery…..” amen … except that i don’t think that i want to be the one doing the mocking and i reserve the right to call it out for what it is, IMNSHO 😐
(DISCLAIMER: this comment is not a criticism. Just something I’ve learned that probably doesn’t apply to anyone but hardheaded sinful me.)
I used to be really comforted by the thought that it would be worth it, that all things work together for good, that I’d come forth as gold. I was really focused on those things in my suffering.
Some people (not you, Michael) say “it’ll all be worth it” as if there are some cosmic scales that suffering and blessing that will all balance in the end. The problem is, some suffering, some losses, some hurts–there is nothing my mind can begin to imagine that would be “worth” going through them for. Would anything be worth someone’s child dying for? Would that result be comforting in the moment?
For me what’s become most important and most comforting is that God is with me in all of my suffering. It doesn’t comfort me to think that It will all work out in the end, etc. even though I know those things are true. The really comforting thing is that God is with me–he knows me & knows what’s going on in my life.
I don’t need less suffering or for my suffering to end: I need more of him! I find myself less concerned with whether or not this thing that I’m going through going to result in some blessing later and more concerned with the fact that God is with me, that he is good, and that he always does right. Whatever’s happening the character of God hasn’t changed. And it’s never going to change so I can rest and trust that his presence is with me. As I relax more into that presence, the suffering is still there but it is dimmed in the light of God’s love for me. The more that I focus on God and who He is, the more possible endurance seems. I remember that even though he allows suffering, he’s not the author of it. the fall of mankind & of this world is the fountain from which all suffering flows. One day, he will end all this suffering and he will set the world to right…to what he intended it to be in the first place. That gives me comfort–to know that it’s not going to last forever.
Paul said that the things we suffer now aren’t even worthy of being compared to the glory that will be revealed in us. That glory is glory for God. God is using the things that we suffer and everything to reveal his glory and I want him to be glorified! The more I know him the more worthy I know he is.
I don’t know I guess maybe that makes it worth it–maybe that’s the thing I can look forward to and say: “that’ll be worth this.”
Persuasion is better than pummeling.
Romaine was never a great role model.
If one is not persuading one’s point with a student then a conversation will yield more than demanding the student agree with the teacher.
That’s my only point in relating how the comment read
Wow. Thank you for writing that Rachel. Beautiful.
Steve Abdula Mohammed Wright,
I recommend that you would just take the path of others, and not believe anything with conviction, you will be perceived as kinder and gentler and be able to shed your terrorist label. 😉
Go the path of Alex and just say “we cannot know anything in the Bible”, or…
Go the path of G and just say, “I don’t care what the Bible means, it just sounds too harsh.”
Rachel, i’m right there with you, if i understand you correctly: what “is the most important and most comforting is that God is with me in all of my suffering.” … maybe one has to be there to understand that it is this knowledge – sometimes the reality – of God’s presence in the fire that makes it possible to go through
thank you, i hope everyone reads what you shared and thinks on it
“Go the path of G and just say, “I don’t care what the Bible means, it just sounds too harsh.””
Well, no, actually this is about interacting here online, allowing a forum to teach, learn, question. I just shudder when a teacher asserts that there is something wrong with the true facts and realities of how honest and difficult this process must be.
This takes risk, even to risking the very things we revere if we can enable those who have no voice to speak and be heard. We can go to any church and be told to “stifle”, but the genius of :: this :: online community which Michael hosts but gets slammed for far too often is that we encourage each other to risk, say what we struggle with and dare NOT say in our churches because our pastors come off so very insecure when they are questioned and put their book ahead of their individuals who just aren’t quite in agreement with their book.
I readily admit that the bible is a collection of harsh history from a people in transition, just as ugly as the diatribes that come from some of these very pages, yet the beauty of it all here is that Michael allows us to work through our stuff and welcome those who ponder in the night watch.
I think he emulates Jesus far more than any of us give him credit for.
G. #53 – that’s a pretty good comment IMHO
for the record i think that Steve W & MLD make perfect sense, too
G said, “I think he emulates Jesus far more than any of us give him credit for.”
Hmmm, I think a gif would have been more bearable 😉
“yet the beauty of it all here is that Michael allows us to work through our stuff and welcome those who ponder in the night watch.”
Yet you stifle Steve’s thoughts and views. You could just say “Steve, thanks for your view, however it’s not mine.” But instead, you toss around allusions to the Taliban.
“and Michael can decide to what extent he wants the understanding of Scripture mocked on the blog he provides to the internet world.”
This is an attempt at the classic religious “shaming” tactic and essentially trying to tell Michael to “stifle”, that he should somehow be ashamed that he has provided a blog for the world to see in real time that there are a wide range of opinions about how one reads and understands the bible.
no, this deserved to be called out because, as the scripture also points out, those who sit in the seat of “teacher” bear a greater responsibility in how they conduct themselves, in how they treat their students. When you’re a teacher you are one 24/7 and you don’t get a pass for shaming your students.
G and MLD, I know I’m not a moderator. Heck, I’m not even around as much as I used to be. But please, stop now before this gets out of hand.
From, someone who appreciates both of you.
Rachel, your comment applies to hard-headed sinful me too. Very timely and well-said.
Ok G – I’m in. As you reference, for Michael’s sake, let’s recap.
Michael started a new Bible Study on 1 Corinthians. I do not know if that interests you, but it interests HIM (and no doubt many others reading) – and in the spirit of contributing to the blog and seeking a way forward, again for Michael’s sake, I made one simple comment. It wasn’t even an attempt to interpret the passage, leaving that to others.
Not only was that one comment either deliberately or ignorantly misquoted, but it was repeatedly so, 100 posts in and still being harped on. All coupled with the same “Anyone can say the Bible means anything” schtick that at least to me is not what Michael was really looking for in starting a study on 1 Corinthians.
I’ve watched you long enough here to know if someone keeps saying “G believes XYZ” when you most certainly don’t believe XYZ, that at some point (and likely much quicker than I did) you will respond.
Which brings to today, when a new set of verses is mentioned, the same misquoting is repeated and the same jokes are thrown around (including smiling faces). THAT is when I made my mockery comment, as I sought to repeat what is an important understanding for any student of the Bible.
I’ve communicated with Michael offline in the recent past, and again I repeat, he will be the one to decide how much derision and misrepresentation of others he allows. He certainly is more lenient with some than with others (Steve Martin comes to mind).
Shaming, stifling, Taliban? You give me too much credit. I may be a teacher, but I am just one member of this community – a community of faith. A member of that part of the Body of Christ that used to be more represented around here.
And we all have responsibility to act first as Christians 24/7. Right?
Michael is very busy and has been sick this week. He is a big boy though. I think I know what he feels about the Scripture (in fact, I know I do).
It’s hard to follow the “ignore” marching order when most every comment is treated in such fashion.
Josh #38….I wasn’t saying that the greater suffering of others diminishes the suffering we face here in the states.
What I am saying is that there are those who face very specific, targeted suffering for claiming the name of Christ. I have not faced that, and I just cannot speak to what it would be like and how God would be present….but reading their testimonies gives me hope that He is present in their midst in a specific way.
Most of the suffering that I have witnessed, and to some small extent experienced, falls more into the place of being part of a broken world…thus this statement: “This is suffering, and in the midst of this suffering we find that God is able to speak to us and minister to us and teach us in ways that cannot happen in other settings. That is not suffering for Christ…it is part of walking through life in a broken world. Much of Michael’s post applies still…that God is present in our sufferings of the broken kind as well as the persecution kind.”
Just as the greater joy of another does not diminish our joy, the greater suffering of another doesn’t diminish what we are experiencing. I just am wary of some who claim to be suffering for Christ because they are sick or because they didn’t get the job they were hoping for. I think we can cheapen what we mean by suffering for Christ when we apply it too liberally to common experience of life in this world.
Does that make sense?
Rachel: ” The really comforting thing is that God is with me–he knows me & knows what’s going on in my life.” Amen.
Steve, I agree about the “Anyone can say the Bible means anything” schtick…it is old tired and trotted out so much that I just skip those posts to see if anyone is posting anything worth reading but the constant Subjective/Relative thing is getting old.
I was heartened when reading your post Michael!
I have an off topic request here. Pray for me that the next time the Lord sets something before me that I know I should do that I do it. I was disobedient tonight, I have prayed about it and feel somewhat better, but I think I would could do with some support that will ensure that I do what my heart and the Spirit tell me to next time. Thanks y’all.
If I were a teacher I would want someone to let me know when I wasn’t connecting, when someone in the class thought I was a tad over the line, even if the person was just auditing.
…but that’s just me.
so I’ll just stick with art & music
Rachel, what you wrote is profoundly beautiful, rich and so true. I know this Christmas meant so much to me this year as the word Emmanuel became so real to me than ever. Truly, He is with us, and it is most often in times of pain, sorrow, and suffering that we realise most deeply that He is there…He knows and He cares. God is with us.
Continuing to pray for you, beloved of God.
Derek, praying for you.
I have been really sick and haven’t had much left to devote here.
I have a high view of Scripture…very high.
My hope when I post these studies is that we wrestle together with them…and we are changed by the power of the Word.
We may come to different conclusions…but engaging with how traditions as diverse as mine, yours, and MLD’s look at the Word is valuable and should engender respect as well as knowledge.
I’ll keep posting them unless they end up totally derailed.
It may get old, but it’s true. That the truth gets old shouldn’t bother folks.
The reality is the stuff is rather subjective, exegesis and hermeneutic is by definition subjective.
You can close your eyes, cover your ears and try to silence my mouth through peer pressure and blog moderation, but the truth remains.
My mocking is not toward the Scripture, it is toward Selective Fundamentalism and the arrogance of stating you have the 100% correct lock on the “correct” interpretation of Scripture…when in reality, we don’t really know 100% for sure what God intended in particular passages. We can assume, infer and have an opinion…but most state their stuff as “God honest FACT!” and condemn the rest to hell.
I believe where there is more Consensus, the take is more likely to be true. There are some Essentials where there is a lot of agreement…that gives me more confidence in its Truth. Where there is lots of disagreement, I am more inclined to be intellectually honest and assume that it is probably non-essential and I probably don’t really know whose position is “100% God’s honest TRUTH!” etc.
I mock the Interpretors of Scripture…not God and His Word.
But, the thread is supposed to be about “Suffering”…and others have taken it “off topic” with little notice.
I have probably said this 1,000 times – read with natural eyes the Bible is as you say… problematic.
Read through the “eyes” of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – it all falls into line and makes sense.
May I recommend you change “eyes”.
and, to call your bluff – no one here has ever said they have ” the 100% correct lock on the “correct” interpretation of Scripture…” (so you told a lie) – just as no one here has ever said that the Book of Genesis is a science book. (another lie)
Lutherans look at the Book of Concord and do not say it is even and interpretation of scriptures – but what we do say is that the Book of Concord is the best representation of what is taught in the Bible.
mock – “tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner” … can we be scornful or contemptuous of our fellow Believers? … maybe … if one uses a whole lot of disclaimers and qualifiers … dunno, tho ….
I went through a tremendous time of suffering when I was young, enough to push me into places I would never have gone voluntarily. The suffering was so deep that it put me on a whole new course in life (most of it not good) and it continued for many, many years. In the midst of it, God entered my life, having found me literally near death.
Having gone through that, and come out the other side, I kind of assumed that everyone had experienced suffering on such a deep level and when I realized that they had not, I found myself kind of a sore thumb in the Christian community. Suffering gave me perspective, at least for my life (if no one else was interested). At first I thought that I had been cursed and perhaps by God. And then I realized that all that suffering had been a blessing because I’d come out of it with many spiritual and emotional blessings and understandings that I would never have developed otherwise.
We think that when we suffer some kind of loss (job, health, personal relationships) that somehow our life has left “normal” and all we really want is to get back to our normal. Unfortunately, that is more like the American Dream (and the good life we think we deserve or have earned) than it is reality. Suffering is a part of life. We each go into it and come out of it with different lessons. How we apply that is our own responsibility. But every crisis is an opportunity to go deeper with Christ, for those who are interested, or to cling to the surface of our life, if we so choose.
We can be shallow people. We’ve had it very good in this country and we have not seen the suffering that much of the world has. We think this is “normal”. It’s not. Count it all joy when you enter a trial. Make it a journey worth traveling and learning from because if you don’t it can be a real hell.
Scott, amen … i pray Lord, give life and impact to those words
Excellently written Scott
Would be nice if the other Scott here now would use something like, “Scott2” or something. Just sayin’.
I’m not real forum savvy, but happy to do that. Hope I didn’t offend.
Steve W., to clarify my #4 remark I was teasing Alex, not making a mockery of the bible.
It’s all good, Scott2 😉
Scott2, big frickin’ Amen over here….good stuff.
MLD, can you get it back on topic por favor? As the #1 Commenter on here, you should use your effluence with some responsibility.
Scott2, I can relate to some of what you speak. The suffering at an early age, assuming every one else understood, and then wondering if I were cursed by God … been there.
Even many years later I was still trying get back to normal when suffering came, just get through it fast. Now, with God’s help we walk through things with a slower more deliberate pace, with our eyes open to anything God wants us to see or understand.
Not much surprises us any more and we don’t flip out over evil staring us in the face like we used to … Even when it comes from within the church, or from a trusted brother in Christ, where it used to be least expected.
It has been an incredible blessing to have suffered, and my suffering is small potatoes compared to many. But without it, I could not have the broader perspective I have now, nor would I know some measure of the depth of God’s love and mercy.
My time as a teen forced to live in a garage without heat, air conditioning, or any comforts because I became a Christian (they didn’t want me to be around siblings to share my faith,) was my first experience that following Jesus would cost me. That was a horrible and precious time that I’m so grateful for!
Thanks for sharing Scott2. Feeling inspired now!
I think suffering can make us want to help others and understand them better. That is what I hope.
I agree, Brian. I suspect suffering gives us a natural ability to understand other’s pain at some level. It may also clue us in when we can’t understand.
I love walking along side of others when they need someone to look past their outward angst, disillusionment, anger and doubts, in order to see their value even while they are in the middle of it.
I have rarely found anyone who could walk with me when I’ve been in the middle of it. Maybe it’s just an over reaction, not sure, but most responses I got while in deep pain were calloused or overly religious (meaning the person doling out the spiritual clichés seemed to need me to just get better so as not to bother them -OR- to enable them to feel better about themselves.)
If the focus is on being right over caring for the wounded, something is missing.
Brian, you seem to understand a great deal in this area. I’m sure your sufferings are a serious story. You can’t know what you obviously do without such pain. God bless you, and what you do with that understanding.