Things I Think…

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36 Responses

  1. Kristi says:

    I’m so sorry you are in pain Michael, I pray that the chiropractor and acupuncturist can provide some relief and that relief would last for some time. I also pray that Liam will do the same for you as well. While I simultaneously hate it with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns, I still believe that the suffering I’ve experienced in this life has been (for me anyway) a necessity for my allegiance and a producer of my faith. I am a weak-willed person and if I had been given a life with no suffering I would have abused it, and myself, badly. That is not the case for all, but I am being honest with myself and that is the case for me. Over the last few years I’ve been able to look past this life and world and just wait for the reward of an eternity with no suffering, mental, physical, or spritual. I will, however, complain about it to the Lord pretty much daily in between my tears. During those moments where I can do all things with out complaining or grumbling, I thank the Lord for that momentary peace. Sometimes I can truly thank God for the suffering, as it allows me to somehow have something in common with His Son beyond the sheer miracle of His love and faithfulness toward me. Just being really honest about this. I find that the way of His people is to pretend that those items that are a lot to comprehend or deal with (health issues, suffering, demonic activity, insolent behavior amongst His people) is just easier to either ignore or cast onto others as their problem. We will have to talk about all of it soon enough. I miss my parents and my husband dearly, and all the kitties I have loved along the way – Lucki, Lynx, Spot, Storm, Stubbi, Sweetie, Susie, and RaeRae. I pray God will let me keep Imzadi until He either comes back or calls me home. Your articles and sharing over the years has been a light for me, and I truly thank you and pray God is good to you in surprising ways.

  2. Nonnie says:

    Thinking of you seeking relief/healing by going to a chiropractor and acupuncturist reminded me of this quote: “The hands of the Almighty are so often found at the ends of our own arms.”.
    Sister Monica Joan “Call the Midwife Christmas Special” 2017

    Sometimes we find healing and other times we merely find the comfort, care, and compassion through human touch. Praying for you, my friend.

  3. Michael says:

    Kristi,

    Good to see you…and really well said.

    I have no doubt that suffering has led to sanctification and patience for me, but I’m running out of things to be sanctified of. 🙂

    Praying with you for a long life together for you and Imzadi and the good ness of God in the land of the living…blessings, my friend.

  4. Michael says:

    “The hands of the Almighty are so often found at the ends of our own arms.”.
    Amen and amen…and thank you, my friend.

  5. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “I’m running out of things to be sanctified of. 🙂“

    Now that’s funny!

    I wanted to say “me too”

  6. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Age and infinity have pretty much eliminated my vices…my mind might be next. 🙂

  7. LInn says:

    Michael,

    I think suffering is rather like looking at a diamond. It has many facets:
    -Suffering came into the world because of human sin. God’s original plan was to have a perfect world. With the curse came death and suffering as part of the human condition (Gen. 3:14-19).
    -Much suffering in the world is directly caused by human behavior (wars, drunk driving, homicides, etc)
    -God is sovereign Prov. 16:33, Job 42:2 (and many others) He couldn’t (in my estimation) be God if He wasn’t sovereign.
    -God uses suffering to demonstrate his sovereignty, mercy, and power over the forces of evil (i.e. Satan) That would be the book of Job.
    -God uses suffering to show His glory, John 9:1-3 The man blind from birth had no idea that he was about to be an object lesson for the glory of God!
    Jesus understands our suffering, as He experience all of it to secure our salvation (Isaiah 53).

    The kid who was never supposed to walk had her share of pain and tears in order to be mobile, not to mention all the teasing and bullying in school. I thought I had stabilized fairly well as an adult, until the surgeries in 2002 that left me walking, but with my Rollator. It was a long two years of rehab to get back to being reasonably mobile. God was also busy working with me-on being more dependent on Him, on understanding that He could use me with a disability (I do lots of things rolling around with my walker), and my relationship with Him has grown tremendously. As I’m getting older I sometimes wonder what “next” might be, but I’m getting better at leaving those things with God. I have today, and that’s what He wants me to focus on.

    That’s all a bit long, but I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness in my life and His great care for me. We all suffer one way or another in this fallen world, but God can help us deal with it if we let Him. And, I am of the opinion that God can heal in an instant, use medical technology, or give us the strength to endure. That’s the part we don’t always understand, I think-how He is working and what the final outcome will be.

  8. Michael says:

    Linn,

    There is merit to all you say…most importantly, you have found theological peace in your own mind.

    That, in itself, is a gift from God.

  9. Tim says:

    I’m so sorry for your pain, Michael. I’ve not personally experienced chronic pain, so I can only sympathize with those who do.

    My mother had a neurological disease that slowly robbed her of her speech and motor functions until it finally killed her. She asked me once (when she could still speak) why God hadn’t yet let her die. It would have been far easier for her to die sooner rather than later due to the disease, but obviously that was in the hands of the Lord. The only thing I could offer her was this: There are some things we only learn (whether about God or other things) through suffering. It is part of the fellowship of Jesus’ own sufferings. Of course, some people experience this more than others…and for that, I had (and have) no answer.

    I know words can sometimes be small comfort. I’m praying for you.

  10. Michael says:

    Tim,

    Thank you, my friend.

    My mother is sinking deeper and deeper into dementia…incapable of learning anything or remembering that which she once knew.

    Diseases like this and what took your mother defy any answer this side of the eschaton…because they seem to be so very cruel.

  11. Captain Kevin says:

    “The overarching element of my faith is knowing that God Himself entered into our suffering, including the inevitability of death.”

    Alan said something similar on the other thread. Both speak volumes to me in my chronic pain and watching my daughter deal with Parkinson’s. Continuing to pray for you, my dear brother.

  12. Michael says:

    Praying for you as well, CK…

  13. Officerhoppy says:

    Dementia steals your mind and your memories. Nasty disease.

  14. Muff Potter says:

    @ Nr. 9:
    So God sends aching loneliness so that I’ll draw nearer to him?
    How did such a cruel and petulant god (small ‘g’ intentional) get invented?

  15. filistine says:

    your list of 10 is full of tension–stress between the extremes, pull between theory and practice/experience, inequities of idealism and reality. And that is where we exist, trying to make sense of it, be guided by the principles and “truth,” all the while struggling with misinformation, poor habits, a fallen society/humanity, our histories, and painful experiences. We are hamstrung. Yet God is gracious and merciful–that which provides hope in the face of his sovereignty and holiness.

  16. Michael says:

    fil,

    Well said, as always.
    Grateful to have you with me on the journey…

  17. Reuben says:

    Paul’s thorn in the flesh…

    Man, I dunno

    I think of pain and mental illness and that always seems to be the only biblical reference of any substance, and then Paul throws it out as a problem that is insignificant because of grace…

    I struggle with addiction and mental illness to the degree that it is daily life threatening. Pain physically and emotionally that absolutely will not subside, and I know will only get worse.

    My wife currently has 4 heart problems, and was in the hospital most of the day today again as a result. She has another procedure coming up where they intend to shock her heart hopefully out of atrial fibrillation.

    “In this world, you will have trouble…” but even before god inspired someone to write that down, it was the case. It’s a human condition. I don’t take heart, because god has no sooner overcome that than taxes. Maybe he did for himself, but his claimed creation has overcome none of the pain, addiction, or mental illness. Even with grandiose claims that individuals have conquered it all, they have not, because it’s always one trip and fall, one pill or drink, one day of skipping the meds away. Always.

    I’m sorry you are in pain, Michael. Genuinely.

  18. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    Thank you…and you and your bride are in my prayers…

  19. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael you asked, “ How do we respond to the tension between the promises of God and the reality we live in?”

    My honest answer is “not very well”

    There are passages in the Bible that are imperatives or, promises. James 5 is a good example: “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.”

    Sounds pretty matter of fact to me. But I’ve prayed for a lot of people in my ministry career and other than a head ache or a cold, no one has been healed.

    And, if I can be honest, why God may heal one individual and not another is frustrating to me.

    We Christians have a bias toward God and as a result, will never question Him. But I do!

    Just saying

  20. Officerhoppy says:

    Reuben
    I’ve had two cardio versions for Afib. Had to have a couple of ablations to rework the “wiring” in my heart. Been fairly controlled after the procedures but I take meds (Flecanide) daily.

    Hang in there my friend

  21. Linn says:

    Officer Hoppy,

    The promise in James 5 also occurs with the reality of death that we all face. Sometimes God heals and sometimes He doesn’t. Like many of us in our senior years (I’m an “early” senior), I have lost five good friends, the kind you can never replace, in the past five years. All of them were older than me, we did pray for healing, but God had other plans for them. I will also say that, in two of those cases, I pleaded with God to take my friends quickly because they were suffering so much.

    Job never had any answers for his suffering except for the presence of God. Abraham was able to express his frustration to God until God agreed that 10 righteous men in Sodom would allow the city to be spared. I think that God, in His wisdom, knows what and how much we need to know about certain situations. I cling to Hebrews 11:6 and all those who died in faith, still looking for the better city. I haven’t found any one who has better answers than the ones God has in His Word for suffering. One of those answers is that He doesn’t always tell us why, but He does promise Himself. In the worst times, I’ve found that He is what i need the most.

  22. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Anyone who has pastored for more than 15 minutes feels this tension deeply.

    Over the years we know how much we prayed and how much was answered…and it’s a hard ratio to swallow.

    Saying that fact out loud causes immense consternation in some people…it causes me a bit as well, but it is reality.

    People feel that they need to line up theological arguments to defend God, who, because of the Cross, needs no defense.

    Eventually we settle into place where we can carry on in faith with mystery…but one never gets there without asking honest questions.

    I see Bible “promises’ as “possibilities”and ask in hope.

    Faith is too strong a word…

  23. Officerhoppy says:

    “ I see Bible “promises’ as “possibilities”and ask in hope. Faith is too strong a word…”

    That’s probably the best way to think about the so called “promises” of scripture

  24. Michael says:

    I will also note that I have little use for the Book of Job despite its antiquity.

    The Lord and Satan make a bet which results in the death of Job’s family, the loss of all he worked for, and the loss of his health.

    He doesn’t have a clue as to what the hell hit him.

    At the end, he gets a new family , some new livestock and his boils are healed…as if that makes him whole again.

    The Lord wins the bet…I guess we’re supposed to say amen…

  25. Officerhoppy says:

    Yeah

    The book of Job is disturbing. Job’s problems are the result of a wager between God and the devil? And as you say, at the end, it’s like a country song played backwards—he gets his dog back, his truck and his wealth as if that makes everything ok.

    He gets a new family but nothing can replace the children he lost

    I don’t like Job at all!!

  26. Linn says:

    https://setapart.net/2023/05/03/when-a-good-god-seems-far-from-good-2/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_campaign=Once%20a%20day_2023-05-05_08:30:00&utm_content=5575

    An article for your consideration…and why I look to Scripture for answers regarding pain/suffering. It’s the only place I know to go. I’ve been a participant in helping professions (both sacred and secular) for the past 40+ years and I’ve dealt with many hurting people. Then, there has been my own personal pain. I think I would have totally gone over the edge if I hadn’t known that I can go to God and His promises.

  27. filistine says:

    I recall one time as an elder being approached by a teenage girl who, distraught, told me her pet bird had flown the coop–literally out an open door and disappeared. Would I pray her bird returned? In that moment, I thought the request not only odd, but trivial. But we are called to pray, so, with next to no faith, I prayed her bird would return. She bounded off from the service much relieved–and, little did I know, right out to the phone to check in at home on the bird status. Within a moment, she came running back up to me and blurted, “she flew right back in the door right when we prayed!” I was stunned more than thankful. I’m not even sure I offered thanks to God for the ‘miracle.’
    I’ve been mulling that episode over for years, for, as many have stated, the silence of God shrouds the will of God on so many other issues we pay passionately about. Even in keeping with the announced will of God, we pray and see no tangible results. It is perplexing, vexing, but it is our challenge to ‘not see, and yet believe.’

  28. Michael says:

    Linn,

    God raises and interacts with all His children individually and uniquely.
    If you have constructed a theological edifice that brings you comfort and helps you continue in the faith, it’s no one else’s business but you and God.

    Because of my lived experience, articles like that don’t move me beyond irritation…but my lived experience also includes a revelation of the risen and reigning Christ that He has made immune to the assault of pain.

    I’m close to the edge at the moment and I’m safe even if I go over…

  29. Michael says:

    fil,

    Well said.

    There are times it seems that God does trivial miracles in order to show Himself as the One who humbles us…

  30. filistine says:

    yes, Michael, perhaps the lifelong effort of God is to bring humility to his children.

  31. Linn says:

    Michael,

    This will be my last comment on this topic.

    My “theological edifice” is based on God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible. That’s what I believe we have to go on as Christians when difficulty strikes. It doesn’t mean i have pat answers or that there are situations I find troubling. But, I have Someone who understands the end and the beginning, which is both amazing and comforting.

  32. Michael says:

    Linn,

    We have many different ways of understanding these matters.

    I was not criticizing your construction…but I hope you understand that your way does not apply to all and, nor is it the only way of seeing God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture.

  33. Alan says:

    Linn

    Please do share and don’t be unsettled from your path with Christ.

    The article was blessed and told the story of a God whose ways will be crowned by his wisdom when the whole of the matter is revealed.

    God always seems to bring his will via the tears of his servants.

  34. Muff Potter says:

    Officerhoppy wrote:
    “We Christians have a bias toward God and as a result, will never question Him. But I do!
    Just saying”

    You’re not alone Hoppy.
    I do too.
    There was a time when I wouldn’t have dared to question God’s alleged ‘will’.
    Now that I see it as not so much immutable ‘will’, but rather rolls of the dice, I’ve found a more realistic peace.

  35. Officerhoppy says:

    Muff
    🙂

  36. Michael says:

    I never want to unsettle anybody regarding these matters.

    I accept each persons way of getting through as their way with God…and it’s not for my critique unless they demand it be my way as well…

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