Things I Think…

You may also like...

78 Responses

  1. Captain Kevin says:

    I’m tracking with you so much on these “things,” Michael.

    #2 – “The older I get…” Same here.
    #3 – Love Matt!
    #6 & 8 – This needs to be preached from every pulpit. The health, wealth and prosperity doctrine has resulted in so much heartache and falling away. We need biblical reality.
    #9 – Hilarious, yet so true!
    #10 – I’m more of a dog person, but I get you.

  2. Dread says:

    I saw the post-Grammy reports. It was encouraging that the show appropriately paired its spirituality with its content. In that regard we would do well to imitate.

  3. Michael says:

    CK,

    I think we all love Matt…and well we should. I disagree with him in all humility.

    I wish I had emphasized more that I believe like never before in Jesus…and His goodness…but I live in a fallen reality as well.

  4. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I’ll say the amen…

  5. Linn says:

    #8 I do find a lot of joy in life, in spite of all the pain (and I have seen my share, just like all of us have). I think pain helps us to anticipate heaven and also (theoretically) should give us grace and mercy towards others. So often I meet someone who seems “impossible”, and then I learn their story. That usually makes me more empathetic and considerate.
    By the way, I skipped the Grammys and enjoyed a wonderful movie called “The Lion In Winter”-Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole at their finest, with a very young Anthony Hopkins. I’ll confess that a lot of the music on the Grammys isn’t “mine.”

  6. Michael says:

    Well said, Linn.

    I’m watching my mother fade to black…there will be no happy ending ending…only hope in the love of Jesus that when she sees Him all will be well again.

  7. Josh says:

    “Then the theologians around you will help you parse out how God was faithful”

    Yes, despite all observable evidence pointing to the contrary. Just shut up and believe like we believe and all will be fine. I will never be part of a church that doesn’t encourage questioning and exploration of doubt.

  8. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I hear you…I don’t doubt Jesus at all, but I doubt all we’ve been taught about His interactions temporally…

  9. Josh says:

    I doubt Jesus less than the rest of the stuff, but to some degree he’s even tangled up in there too. I have to allow myself to question every bit of it to find out if anything is worth keeping. Its been freeing. I’ve had some amazing conversations with people now that they don’t keep me at arm’s distance because I was a minister. I’m honest with them about my doubts and questions and they are the same with me. Some times I pray they’ll find the answers so that they can show me the way.

  10. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I haven’t found any answers, only Jesus.
    If you find some answers beyond that, let me know.
    I fully support doubting everything until you can’t.

  11. DavidP says:

    I’ve heard the song mentioned in the Grammys. It’s not good, but in pop music the quality is far down the list of necessities and it’s been that way for many decades (Disco Duck may not be Satanic, but it sure was stupid).

    1) This isn’t Devil Worship even at the low quality of Anton LeVay, it’s Satanism via Spinal Tap. At least Spinal Tap was in on the joke.

    2) The two singers in question faced flagging careers, controversy (the bad kind – involving knowingly working with accused rapists), and being shoved off of the trending topics on Twitter. Thanks to the Right-Wing Outrage Machine, they’re back in the spotlight today.

    Roll your eyes and move on after 24 hours and we’ll be back to talking about their plagiarism and bombing albums.

  12. Dread says:

    Isn’t Jesus the only theodicy we have or need? Doesn’t he justify God? Doesn’t he vindicate the righteousness of God? I speak of God’s faithfulness not our notions of temporal morality.

    There is no theodicy but the Kenosis/Plerosis of God in Christ; humiliated and exalted. That act is manifested in his salvation which is not ahistorical but constantly embodied in his bride.

    It troubles me to read of no hope other than propositional truth claims (perhaps I misconstrue). We have Him our daily epiousion bread. We have ceaseless comfort in Holy Spirit. We are not adrift waiting — but I do not make light of pain which has also been my endless stalker and will be until the grave. I only bear witness.

    This is not a debate just a testimony.

  13. Michael says:

    Dread,

    My hope is the reality of a coming new creation…resurrection and reunion.

    I agree that we have not been left alone and adrift…though it can seem that way.

    I welcome your bringing light into my rather dark thoughts…

  14. Dread says:

    Lament is fairly constant for many of us. Last week I said to my wife that I am happy and she wept because it has been so seldom these last years. I do little else than seek through study prayer and listening. The silver cord loosens and one wonders if it will prove to have been unwise to fill the precious time this way.

    Your words are not amiss but they beckon …

  15. Officerhoppy says:

    @#1
    I’ve watched movies that begin with the words “based on a true story”. When you do some research you see the liberties the director took with the “true” part of the film

    I often think preachers to the same thing when they preach. Their sermon is based on a true story but they sure take liberties to make it more interesting or dramatic or applicable.

    The best thing we preachers can do today is not force the scriptures to say what it was not intended to say.

    Maybe sermons should begin with a disclaimer.

  16. Michael says:

    Dread,

    It’s the wisest way…as long as you share what you learn…

  17. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Most of my sermons do…

  18. parker says:

    Michael,
    All 10 points spoke powerfully to me—especially #1. The 2nd worse thing that I can ever imagine has happened to me. And I’m convinced there will be more to come. All without answered prayers and without intervention from God. I hate when “spiritual” people come around in my time of need and think they have answers. The longer I live the less of an understanding of God I have.

  19. Alex says:

    I almost lost my faith in my grief until I read the Bible through the lens of grief. I felt (in that time which hasn’t concluded yet) like it was the only place where my grief was honored.

    Through the agonizing years of treatment, I had hope of healing if not cure. In the loss of the one most precious to me, I’m now reduced to a deep acknowledgement that life beats us up, truly, and God often does not seem to intervene much at all except for the comfort of accompaniment and sometimes even that doesn’t seem clear. It didn’t in my despair. Lament is a real thing.

    I now believe that God holds illness, suffering, pain and death much differently than we do.
    Some things simply will never be redeemed this side of eternity.

    Now, my hope doesn’t reside here on Earth at all; I will not be rescued in the ways that I’d hoped for previously. That saddens me – my maturity comes with a high price, and if I’m totally honest, comes at a price that I’m not sure I’d have agreed to if I’d been asked to consent in advance, god help me.

    My hope now is simply and solely in the love of Christ to be with me in all things, and it is *only* that which has never failed.

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Doubts, fears, questioning, are all part of incarnational theology in the view of Augustine. In taking our humanity, Christ took on all of our humanity, not a mere portion. For Augustine, the language of this incarnation is the psalms. In that Jesus quoted the Psalms to express loneliness, questions, abandonment, etc., he turned the psalms into this incarnational language, the language of our, and his, humanity.

    It seems to me that we are all too often afraid of this incarnational theology, that underscores our humanity, and, indeed, speaks to the human condition. True spirituality is not a matter of unabated confidence. True spirituality grows out of our interactions with God which often involve silence, doubts and fears.

  21. LInn says:

    I think because we are so often removed from suffering until it finally “finds” us (usually when we ourselves or someone we love becomes terminally ill) that we really don’t understand how hard it is to suffer. Many of us mention trauma without the real knowledge of what actual trauma is. We expose ourselves to all kinds of violent media, and it doesn’t seem to affect us. Of course, I’m speaking in generalities because we all have our own stories, but our culture exposes us to lots of scenarios that are not experienced by use directly, and then we are truly horrified when real suffering come our way.

    Previous generations did not have much of anything that was virtual. Even the most privileged would have sons go off to war or children die of diseases that most of us are vaccinated against. I know many young adults who have never visited someone seriously ill in the hospital or attended a funeral. We do not have the life experience needed to deal with the suffering of the human condition, which catches up with all of us eventually.

    I’ve always loved Phi. 2: 1-10. In the kenosis Jesus took on everything we could ever encounter in our human condition, including the penalty for our sin that He never deserved. At my senior citizen age I encounter suffering more and more (I lost four really close friends last year), but I have confidence that Jesus has experienced all of it, and He will help me through it.

  22. Michael says:

    Parker,

    Always good to see you here despite the circumstances.

    My prayers are with you as well…I know little except that we are loved even when it doesn’t feel that way.

  23. Michael says:

    Alex,

    Tragedy has gifted you with a voice …a voice so costly, yet so needed.
    Thank you for your words as we mourn what they cost…

  24. Michael says:

    Duane,

    Well said…yet this theology has been abandoned for a mess of pottage.
    Our theology attempts to avoid suffering at costs…incarnational theology embraces the reality of suffering and gives hope of redemption…

  25. Michael says:

    Linn,

    Excellent observations….we do all we can to keep suffering and death at arms length…out of sight if possible…

  26. Owen says:

    #6. “.. believing that God will keep you from that suffering…”
    Easy to forget sometimes that Jesus told his disciples “in the world you will have trouble..”
    I keep stumbling over Paul’s words having to do with partaking in Christ’s suffering…

  27. Em Wegemer says:

    Owen, true words! ! !

  28. Josh says:

    Sooooo…

    Christianity offers no help for a better life (the one life that we know we have), but only hope for the life that comes after?

  29. Linn says:

    I believe that the hope for a better life comes through:
    -A personal relationship with the Triune God, forgiveness of sin, and future glory with God. What other belief system offers that?
    -Hope for purpose in this life. Romans 8:21-39 offers hope for this life and the life to come
    -I don’t think it makes us immune from the problems of this world, but it does gives us the reassurance that God has a purpose in all of it (see Rom. 8:28).
    -I do believe that God can and does intervene in our lives to improve our circumstances or even change them. But, I also do not believe that He is a Santa Claus in the Sky who promises us no suffering in this world (See John 16:33). I believe the purpose of our suffering is for us to declare the glory and hope of Christ to the world.
    i’ve been through suffering, I have walked with others through their suffering. I do not enjoy it, but I find special love and communion with the Lord when it happens. He is there and He understands our suffering.

  30. Michael says:

    Josh,

    The new creation is the primary hope of the believer.
    I would also say that living a life following Jesus adds a depth and import to life that speaks to others of that hope.
    There are still times when God does intervene…maybe more than we know.
    I still hope and pray for those interventions…out of love of neighbor and myself.

  31. Michael says:

    I would say that I have a supernatural assurance that there will be a time when He sets things right…with a deep assurance that all the suffering matters somehow.

    I don’t know that I have any more peace or joy than a heathen does…I do believe that He is and He is good.

  32. Josh says:

    Frankly, me and the rest of the world are looking for happiness, peace, and comfort, and we want it in this life. That’s why we work, fall in love, go to the movies, try new foods, etc.

    It seems holy to say I don’t want those things, but I am no longer very concerned with seeming holy.

  33. Michael says:

    Josh,

    There is no denial of the need or desire for those things here.
    All I’m saying is if you think that faith enables all that, I’ll have some of what you’re smoking.

    Everything I wanted and hoped for as a young man has been denied me…and I am finishing my time here taking care of an elderly mother and facing huge financial and logistical problems…and I somehow know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

  34. Josh says:

    Right. And I’m trying to decide if that’s the life I want, or if that’s even the life I want for my kids.

  35. Michael says:

    Josh,

    You don’t get to make that decision for yourself or anyone else.
    The only question you get to answer is whether Jesus is Lord or not…if He is there is a purpose in all this…if not…it’s pretty much senseless.
    I believe He is…and He is good…and I want to be part of what He’s doing.

  36. Michael says:

    Life happens no matter what we decide…might as well have some meaning to it.

  37. Linn says:

    Josh,
    You don’t always get to choose what you want in life. That’s a maturity issue we all have to deal with at some point. It may seem like others have it easier than we do, but we don’t always know the struggles they deal with that we never see.

    I didn’t ask to be born with a birth defect, followed by 9 surgeries over my lifetime and constant issues with access and walking. I didn’t ask for my family to fall apart when I was 16 and all the subsequent issues of having two sets of parents constantly at odds with each other. I didn’t ask to raise my sister’s kids after she fell into drugs. However, I can honestly say that I’ve had a great life because of the many ways God has blessed me through that. He gave me a teaching career I love, a lot of “found” family (most from church), and the ability to “keep on swimming” even on days when I would rather stay home than go to work because it would just be easier with the walker than all. And ministry opportunities! So many in so many areas that I love and enjoy. Some of us have it easier than others (see Ecclesiastes) and God knows what needs to come into our lives. He will bless us as we trust Him. I have 65 years, 50 of them as a Christian, that prove it.

  38. Reuben says:

    There are ways of looking at things, ways I did not before. Acts 20:22-24 was my life verse. The point being all you could expect was hardship, but it was irrelevant to the Gospel.

    Now I look at it different. God created me to die on his behalf if needed. At that, he created a problem for which only he has the solution. That solution indeed comes with the expectation that we exchange our lives, and may indeed lose them, there is to be no other expectation, and we are to be grateful.

    This shows a different god. One that likes to see the kids abused. For what? Character? We are commanded to look forward to it, as if it is a calling on our life, to suffer like Jesus. Ok.

    The VAST majority of the American Evangelical church has no comprehension of either way of looking at it. Jesus is a fish on the bumper, a bro to visit with on Sunday. And now it’s a political Jesus.

    If Jesus is as advertised, he left the building.

    I never subscribed to any form of “pick and choose” theology. I believed the Bible to be self evident. I believed the ultimate end to my life was with my head on a plate in the name of Jesus.

    The promises are kinda contradictory to the expectations. There is no real promise we can expect in this life. I never experienced the peace that surpasses understanding. I never even heard god speak. I figured it was what was to be expected.

    Sorry, I view it to be morally reprehensible. It is a parent treating his kids like garbage, and expecting them to be happy. Unforgivable. Repugnant. A dumpster fire of false hopes and guarantees for all the bad you could possibly want.

    Like Josh, I question all of it. I still don’t know if there is any meat left. But more and more I ask myself the question, should I just be a vegetarian instead?

  39. Michael says:

    One of the big problems is that evangelicals have always tried to sell the faith on the promise of “blessings” and answered prayer .

    I call this “George Muller Syndrome”.

  40. Michael says:

    I don’t expect to have a better life than Jesus or the apostles…the only way I make this all work in my head is to know that he came Himself…He isn’t just send a book.

    We did to Him what we do to each other…and someday he will make it all right.
    This…is not that day.

  41. Kelley S. says:

    Hello, first time reader here. My husband (long time reader) pointed this article out. Mind you, I’ve suffered. A friend told me if she had my life she would kill herself. Pain remains. Redeeming qualities for what has happened remain as if yet unseen. Recently I have joined a healing fellowship. They say “it works if you work it”. The same could not be more true of walking with God. Pain while walking with God has more hope and miracles than without. I have seen it. We come in & go out alone. Barring rapture there is 100% certainty of death. How should we then live? When one of many times at the bottom, I was still faced with the fact all was lost. God was still there. I can’t not believe in Him. Where else is there to go? So I draw even closer to Him… each breath. Each surging pain I lean in. Me and you Lord. Your word is true, though you “slay me” still I will follow. At night I lay down alone… surround me with your love Lord. Help me work put my faith, no style points needed. Breath in, breath out… God is present. His word is a magical reach through time, space & dimension to reach us. With each application of lessons learned the day is better. Bones will still break, hearts still break but bones also heal and hearts heal in this life. For 20 years i accepted I would never be happy. I made mistakes & got back up. He is my present help & future. All else fades away. Its okay to be angry, question, and cry out. Still HONOR HIM. He is after all the CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. While loved, we are also sinful dust, still He loves us. Still I will follow. After 20 years of pain, It ended. I still have massive painful scars but I can breathe and experience great joy and HOPE. Whatever happens good or bad, it always comes down to me and my Creator- that’s it. WORK YOUR FAITH SOLDIERS. EXPECT BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS. Do cry, I accept you are hurt and angry. It will not last forever. Shalom Shalom

  42. Michael says:

    Kelley,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective…it matters.

  43. Kelley S. says:

    Hello, first time reader here. My husband (long time reader) pointed this article out. Mind you, I’ve suffered. A friend told me if she had my life she would kill herself. Pain remains. Redeeming qualities for what has happened remain as if yet unseen. Recently I have joined a healing fellowship to deal with residuals. They say “it works if you work it”. The same could not be more true of walking with God. Pain while walking with God has more hope and miracles than without. I have seen it. We come in & go out alone. Barring rapture there is 100% certainty of death. How should we then live? When one of many times at the bottom, I was still faced with the fact all was lost. God was still there. I can’t not believe in Him. Where else is there to go? There are no other Gods. So I draw even closer to Him… each breath. With each surging pain, I lean in. It’s me and you Lord. Your word is true, though you “slay me” still I will follow. At night I lay down alone… surround me with your love Lord. Help me work out my faith, no style points needed. Breath in, breath out… God is present. His word is a magical reach through time, space & dimension to reach us. Things unseen are more real than the atoms in front of us. With each application of lessons learned the day is better. Bones will still break, hearts still break but bones also heal and hearts heal in this life. For 20 years i accepted I would never be happy. I made mistakes & got back up. He is my present help & future. All else fades away. Its okay to be angry, question, and cry out. Still HONOR HIM. He is after all the CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH. While loved, we are also sinful dust, still He loves us. Still I will follow. After 20 years of pain, It ended. I still have massive painful scars but I can breathe and experience great joy and HOPE. Whatever happens good or bad, it always comes down to me and my Creator- that’s it. LETS WORK OUR FAITH SOLDIERS. EXPECT BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS. Do cry, YES you are hurt and angry. It will not last forever. Shalom Shalom

  44. Em Wegemer says:

    Short story follows….
    Our first son was in ,Children’s Hospital (encephalitis). I was walking down the hall with a sweet nurse who remarkeed, ” Wee have so many dying children here!,”
    I thought to mysellf, if Robbie lives, I don’t care if they all die!
    I felt a hand on my left shoulder and turned around to see who was there. NOBODY! ! !
    Then AA heard a voice as clear as if someone was there talking to me. It said, “If there was any other way, this wouldn’t be happening!”
    I felt peace sweep over me in an instant.
    It caused my mother on the day of Robbie us graveside service, to say, “You never loved that child!”
    It didn’t upset me, although I know she intended her words to wound me, it didn’t.

  45. Officerhoppy says:

    Could it be that church attendance among the youth in our country, and believers in Christ is diminishing because of something Josh said—they want it all and they want it now.

    I think peace is found in our relationship with Christ and a future of glory He assures us of, and not necessarily the promise of a good and happy life.

  46. josh says:

    Then I’m not terribly interested. No one knows the nature of the afterlife, or what exactly happens when we die. What I do know is that I have work tomorrow and have to take care of my kids. If heaven is a real thing, then once saved always saved and I’ll catch you guys on the other side. But in this world, I need some comfort, I need to see my kids smile.

  47. Michael says:

    Em,

    I do believe those sorts of things happen…

  48. Michael says:

    Josh,

    What comfort is there to life if everything is simply random and headed for a common compost heap?

    My hope isn’t simply about what happens when I die…but what is going to happen when we all live again.

    I truly understand that circumstances have crushed you and left you in pain…that is the common lot of most of us.
    Do not ever think that I’m diminishing that…I have my own moments of bitter responses to where I’ve been and where I’m at.

    Most of what I hoped for eluded me…but I do believe He has sustained me to endure…and there is still joy to be found daily.

  49. Em Wegemer says:

    Michael, keep believing! ! !
    We so underestimate the goodness of our God! Our pastor asked me to speak to the Church about my experience. God gave me the strength to get through the unthinkable. At that time my mother was not a Believer.
    Praying for you and your mom

  50. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    “Could it be that church attendance among the youth in our country, and believers in Christ is diminishing because of something Josh said—they want it all and they want it now.”

    No…because that is basically what evangelicalism promises already.

    The younger generations see the hypocrisy, especially in the political arena.
    They also have been persuaded that the sexual norms of the culture are righteous…because the Christian norms have been acknowledged only as weapons against the culture and not lived out in front of them.

  51. Em Wegemer says:

    Michael @ 9:42
    WISE WORDS ….. IMNSHO. 🤔🤔

  52. Reuben says:

    “ What comfort is there to life if everything is simply random and headed for a common compost heap?”

    That may have been read wrong, but it sounds like papa Chuck saying, “It’s all gonna burn…”

    There is a loaded statement of there ever was one, and the fruits of that mentality live on.

  53. Michael says:

    You read it wrong…

  54. Reuben says:

    Then we acknowledge it’s the most common question asked of agnostics, atheists, and anti-theists.

    Can’t speak for any group but the anti-theists. My outlook on humanity is if it could cast off religion, it could flourish. And I mean that. Truly. It is religion, yours included, that implement the definitions of sin, what it mean to be good, righteous, presents a standard of living, and in some cases, your religion included, presents the standards of death as the threat for noncompliance.

    As an ordinary guy on a daily basis, I have to do whatever helps people around me, my job is to accomplish that, I am to accomplish that with family and friends, even strangers. I don’t need payback in the form of celestial promises. I don’t need to stand in judgement of everyone and everything to the point that I have polarized myself against the entire planet. I don’t even have problems with the religious, because they are doing what they were taught to do, sometimes with fervency. It’s the construct of god or gods, and the religions that follow that I stridently oppose. It is a hindrance to humanity.

  55. Reuben says:

    In theological terms, that is what makes me T totally depraved. Again, a concept invented by religion. So be it. I have moved past that personally. I can be a godless Heathen and still do what I can to do good in life.

  56. Pineapple Head says:

    As far as these big questions about life, I find a lot of help by spending considerable time in the wisdom scriptures: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes. They remind me that life is multi-faceted. Psalms reminds me its okay to feel. Proverbs reminds me that there is some sense of order in the life (although the proverbs aren’t promises. And Ecclesiastes tells me that life can have a sharp edge to it…reminding me that I am not immune from pain/struffle that appears random.

    I don’t think the Christian life should be gloomy, nor do I think it’s meant to be a constant high. It’s just life. There will be seasons of joy and seasons of difficulty. The challenge before me is to grow in spiritual, relational and emotionally maturity. Sadly, much of American Christianity offers little help to me accomplishing these goals.

    Love God, love others.
    Take on Jesus yoke.
    Care about the disenfranchised.
    Pursue deep, meaningful relationships.
    Be a good friend.

    That’s what’s on my agenda.

  57. Josh says:

    “What comfort is there to life if everything is simply random and headed for a common compost heap?”

    I’m not saying that’s the case, but if it is, the comfort would be in doing things I enjoy now and spending time with the people I care about. And making their lives enjoyable too. If we are all headed for the great compost heap in the sky, get everything you can out of this life.

  58. Michael says:

    Jesus has never told me not to spend time with anybody or stop doing things I enjoy.

    Whether you believe in Christ or not, life will be hard and at times, tragic.

    It will also occasionally be full of joy and wonder.

    The problems we face have nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with the church.

  59. Captain Kevin says:

    I appreciate the honesty in these lyrics.

    “They say it only takes a little faith
    To move a mountain
    Well good thing
    A little faith is all I have, right now
    But God, when You choose
    To leave mountains unmovable
    Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
    It is well with my soul

    I know You’re able and I know You can
    Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
    But even if You don’t
    My hope is You alone
    I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
    Would all go away if You’d just say the word
    But even if You don’t
    My hope is You alone”

    Mercy Me

  60. Em Wegemer says:

    Captain K! AMEN! ! !

  61. Em Wegemer says:

    Reuben, you’ve probably read this already, but it is worth a ponder – IMHO
    Rev 4:1-11

  62. Josh says:

    “I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
    Would all go away if You’d just say the word”

    That actually sucks, though, right? We can all agree on that, right? There is someone who could easily take away all this suffering, but just…chooses not to do a thing about it.

    That’s not good. I would have to bend a definition in a complete pretzel to call that good.

  63. Michael says:

    Josh,

    He chose to come and suffer as we do…and someday all he accomplished in the Incarnation will make all things well.

    I’ve spent most of the last year studying Hebrews and now Daniel…and suffering in the process.

    My belief is that evangelical theology has taught Christians that God always ameliorates suffering in this life…and that is a bald faced lie that has led to the kind of disappointment we see here…and that I often share in.

    This life is a vapor…all my treasure and hope is laid up elsewhere.

    “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”
    (Philippians 1:29 NLT-SE)

  64. Josh says:

    Maybe God isn’t capable of alleviating our suffering.

    The only other choice is that he doesn’t want to help.

  65. Michael says:

    No, the only other possibility is exactly what the Bible teaches.
    God became a man and entered into the brokenness of fallen creation and will set things right at His return.

    Our question is around why He hasn’t already done so…why the wait?

    That question has no answer known to me, but somehow all we endure is necessary…

  66. Everstudy says:

    One thing that hinders us from understanding suffering is our lack of seeing ‘the long view’. We see the suffering now and wonder why, not seeing the impact our perseverance through and reaction to the suffering that can come years, or even generations later.

    Whatever I’m going through now can be painful, seemingly pointless, but what if it made a difference in my son’s life, or future grandchildren?

    And, to be clear, when I say “our lack of seeing ‘the long view'”, I don’t mean a lack of understanding, or willful ignorance of God’s purposes, just the fact that we might not be around to see the difference/results of suffering.

  67. Josh says:

    But this still assumes that the suffering must happen. That there is no way around it. That countless lives have to be destroyed so that “I” can learn this lesson, or get this growth.

    It just doesn’t make sense. an all powerful God could have chosen a less painful path for that growth. So the answer is that he does want “me” to suffer. In fact he is the cause of it, if only for a short time (i.e. 80-90 years).

    What if there was a being that didn’t want us to suffer, and had the power to keep it from happening. Are you honestly going to sit there and tell me that wouldn’t be better?

  68. Josh says:

    In this case, the suffering is God. It is all powerful, and unmovable. The God we worship must bend to the whims of the suffering.

  69. Michael says:

    I’m saying that the revelation of God in Scripture is that for some reason, this suffering is necessary in the grand plan…it doesn’t even begin to explain why.

    It also tells us that the God we worship didn’t observe all this from a distance, but came in the flesh and entered into our pain.

    It is on that basis that I trust Him…he knows how bad it all hurts.

    I simply cannot explain anything to my satisfaction metaphysically without the cross.
    On it, is all the explanation I need.

    You can reject all that, but where will you go?
    Do you think people freed from the bondage of religion are happier or better behaved?

    History and life tell us otherwise.

    The one thing that is never raised in these conversations is sin…the nature of man is not always bent to human flourishing..

  70. Michael says:

    Josh,

    I should also add that I’m far enough removed from most of the major traumas of my life that the swelling has gone down enough to think through this stuff…to a degree.

    I spent a lot of years being very angry with God…

  71. Pineapple Head says:

    Ecclesiastes may be my favorite book of the Bible. In short, Solomon tried all sorts of things to find meaning. Projects. Pleasure. Hobbies. He ran the gamut of trying all the types of things people try in order to make sense of life. He hoped he would find the thing that gave his life meaning, but each time he was left with saying, “It’s all vanity.” His conclusion to everything was: “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

    The human experience is challenging as we have enough intelligence and awareness to ask the big questions, but that can also leave us frustrated because we don’t get all the answers. I’ve had some traumatic experiences as well, more than some, less than others. And those experiences have created a lot of questions. I’m also aware that most of my important life lessons have come from “the pressure cooker.” I hate the suffering, but I learn the most in the suffering.

    I appreciate Michael bringing in the aspect of sin in all this. It really does offer some explanation for the chaos.

    Josh, much of my spiritual processing has come from reading and learning from Pete Scazzero. He’s greatly impacted my life in regard to spirituality, emotions and relationships. I would highly recommend reading some of his stuff or watching some of his videos on YouTube. Bottom line, he’s all about growing up as a Christian and a human.

  72. Officerhoppy says:

    I spent about 10 years angry at God—and I was pastoring a church at the time. Still not completely over it.

    But regarding suffering, it has it’s purpose. Suffering causes our focus to turn inward, to face those parts of ourselves we might otherwise ignore. God can use suffering as a tool to develop us into better people: people who can love and enjoy Him forever as Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4 indicate.

    But is it fun? Does it keep food on the table, paying bills, no. But Jesus was right when he said man does not live on bread alone. God is more interested in out Christlikeness or or holiness than our physical happiness.

    At least, i think so.

  73. Captain Kevin says:

    The following article was published two days after this thread began.

    https://www.keylife.org/articles/7-out-of-10-people-have-a-broken-hear/

  74. Officerhoppy says:

    Thanks Captain K

  75. Captain Kevin says:

    A friend who once pastored a small church, and is now happily in a completely different vocation, posted the following:

    “Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians with a beautiful discussion of God comforting us in affliction, and right up front he tells them about the afflictions he’s gone through. It was so bad, Paul says, and he had weight added to his shoulders that was so far beyond his strength that he “despaired of life.” It was so bad that Paul literally thought it might kill him. He says so in the next verse that he felt like he had the sentence of death, and the purpose of it was to remind him that God is the one who raises the dead, and to trust that even if he had died it would be okay because Jesus held him.

    Stop a moment, though, and don’t gloss over what we see here. Paul was put WAY beyond his strength and ability. God gave him way more than he could handle. It just wasn’t more than God could handle. Secondly, Paul despaired. His faith wasn’t shallow, simple, Pollyanna good vibes. He despaired of life, and while we can’t say that was suicidal ideation we can say that Paul, a giant of the faith if ever there was one, emotionally struggled mightily to the point he thought it was over.

    God will give you more than you can handle, for sure. He will not give you more than He can handle, whether He delivers in this life or through the miracle of resurrection and eternity by faith alone in Christ alone. Don’t depend on your strength when you’re hurting emotionally, trust in the goodness and power of God. Depend on Jesus when the struggle is way too real and the world is crashing down. And remember that you’re in good company when you feel like it’s all too much. Paul feels those feels right with you.”

  76. Robin says:

    I know how you feel, how fear and pain can cause one to ultimately take a view that life with God is full of suffering. I have known this and have allowed bitterness to creep in and have a deep seated resentment towards God. Yet I have learned recently that this is not good or correct, that not trusting Him is something He takes seriously. Joshua from whom our Lod is named was someone who believed against all the impossible odds that God would bring His people into the land He promised. That it would be hard and painful but doable, he had courage and trust that God would see them through. I think God allows us to go through seasons of darkness and deep personal pain, but these are seasons meant to teach and not the stuff of our existence in Him. He is trustworthy and always on our side, He wants us to have courage, He will see us through.

  77. Reuben says:

    The days change as much as my attitude towards god. Some days, I say “hello if you are out there, still looking for any sign”, and others, well the language is not blog friendly.

    My wife tells me that there is still a ton of this fight tied to my father, who was a pastor as well. My only interactions with hm were disciplinary. Very little in the way of good memories. Therapy still has not helped me work through this. Years of therapy.

    My wife is no longer connected to god or Christianity in any way. She is a very spiritual person. Me, not so much. I still view all of it to be misplaced hope that causes even more pain.

    I have heard the gospel every way it could be told, “led people to the Lord” preaching it myself. I simply can’t find any good in god. Any god.

    Today was one of those days… this stuff runs through my mind, I relive things I shouldn’t anymore. I don’t see any reconciliation. What I do see is a lot of people I taught for years who have long since left the faith, and many of them did it without looking back, or even a notable shred of animosity. They are just living seemingly happy lives!

    I dunno… it’s been one of those days. The haunting persists.

  78. Captain Kevin says:

    “ I dunno… it’s been one of those days. The haunting persists.”

    I’m sorry, Reuben. I won’t even attempt any platitudes or advice. Just want to say I care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Phoenix Preacher

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading