|Posted by Lorraine Serra on July 14, 2014 at 4:40 PM|
I am sure most people want to avoid pain and suffering at all costs. And since it can appear in so many varied forms and degrees of severity, I wonder if there is a common denominator by which we can make some sense of it.
I have often heard atheists declare that a good God cannot possibly exist in light of the great scope of human suffering on this planet. It makes no sense to see people exterminated by vicious dictators or corporate greed. How can a busload of children plunging off a bridge make any sense? Is there any purpose in the hijacking and disappearance of a passenger airliner with over 200 innocent people onboard? Where is God in the midst of famine or drought?
Wars may not always seem justified, or sensible, but at least we understand the suffering which results. But, what can we think about random murders, or diseases of every kind, or the myriad of personal cases of anxiety, fear, betrayal, abuse and depression? What about the stress associated with unemployment, or accidents or natural disasters? It all just seems like random chaos!
Why, O God, if You are there? Why don’t You intervene and save us?
Have you ever questioned Him? I have….but only in times of trouble. Isn’t that the time when naturally we humbly question, or shake an angry fist at Him? Go with me for a moment. Let’s be honest.
Have you asked Him “why” when there is joy, peace and stability in your life? Probably not.
Have you asked Him “why “when you get a promotion or a great deal on a new car? Probably not.
Have you asked Him “why” when a child is born healthy and strong, or when the sun rises and sets with measured predictability?
I think the answer for most would be, “No. I don’t question Him. I just thank Him!” For others, these good things of life were “earned” or are “the natural order of things.”
We call it a “blessing” when our prayers are answered….or even when life is good without a single prayer going up at all!
For me, it is so easy to fall into a routine life oblivious to the millions of blessings around me….until they are interrupted or destroyed!! How about you? I sometimes take for granted what I know about God’s promises, and in that ignorance I debase the very majesty of God and the incredible love He has for me each day by failing to take time to truly, richly, profusely thank Him.
If we are to pray without ceasing, making our requests known before God, with thanksgiving, then it seems our hearts must be always in a general state of thanksgiving and praise. Gratitude, love, reverence and thanksgiving is the adoring posture of a true believer. The psalms are filled with songs of praise and thanksgiving, summing it all up in Psalm 150 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
To praise God and ascribe to Him the glory that is HIS already means valuing Him for who He really is and personally acknowledging God in His true character or essence. God is love.
That being said, we can trust Him in the trials and sufferings of life. He will walk with us, comfort us, supply us all we need, always true to His promises. With His help, we can offer our suffering as an offering of praise, fullfilling the call to be a "living sacrifice".
It sure elevates my soul when I spend time acknowledging the greatness of God, His loving nature and His radical love for me in all the little things of life every single day. This is my sacrifice of PRAISE! He is worthy of it!
So, how exactly does this help me when the trials and sufferings come along? Can I trust this “Good God”, this unchanging God when life throws me a curve ball?
Of course, if you have studied scripture at all, you are probably familiar with the letter of James, the brother of the Lord. He encourages everyone to “count it all joy” when we fall into these various sufferings…because there is a benefit to them. This is hard to swallow.
Atheists want to dismiss the existence of God based on His “absence” in the midst of the horrors of this life. Sometimes, even believers finding themselves in the most grievous circumstances allow their pain to transform them into hard hearted, bitter souls who feel abandoned by God and no longer trust Him.
But, wait! It ain't a perfect world! We can't have it both ways: free will comes with a price, and the subsequent fallout of it will surely knock on everyone's door. So, what purpose can there be in suffering? What are the benefits James speaks of?
Read James Chapter 1 verse 1 -12 for starters.
Spend some time just thanking and praising God for His immeasurable greatness, mercy and love. Pray through the Psalms as a jumping off point into your personal experiences of God's goodness.
Then, thank Him with as much passion and sincerity as you can muster for the suffering you are experiencing now. Ask Him to reveal Himself as your Helper, Healer, Provider in these difficulties.
I challenge you to do this and see how the Lord will transform your heart, comfort your soul and empower your spirit to be steadfast in everything. Next time, we will look at the example of Jesus and I will share some personal experiences. God is love, no matter what storm is brewing in your life. Blessings to you, friends. Let's pray for one another.
Categories: Living the Gospel...Really?