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Why Would a Good God Allow Such Suffering?

How can God allow the kinds of suffering and loss that are happening in and around us?

In the darkness we  hear a whisper that tells us that if we were God, we’d never let this happen. Repeatedly, doubts grow out of the thought that there are only 2 possibilities: Either God is good, but not all-powerful, or he is all-powerful but not good.

In the face of such questions the Bible tells a story. In summary, Genesis to Revelations describe

a.  A God great enough to create the cosmos, world, and life as we know them.

b.  A God wise enough to give those created in his likeness the freedom to resist and rebel to the extent that we see it.

c.  A God who suffers and groans with us in the resulting evil and chaos.

d.  A God who offers hope in a return to paradise

e.  A God who takes on flesh to suffer for us.

f.  A God who shows his power over the worst of our enemies.

g.  A God who then asks us to trust him for the answers of eternal justice and mercy.

The Bible fleshes out this story. The question I have is what do you think it takes to make this story believable and meaningful to ourselves and others?


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88 Responses to “Why Would a Good God Allow Such Suffering?”

  1. bubbles says:

    Sin has ruined a perfect world. But, knowing this, we can take assurance in God’s Word. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. We cannot understand His mind, or He would not be God.

    He does tell us to cast our cares on Him, He cares for us. He tells us He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. No matter what happens, therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, though the mountians be carried into the midst of the sea, and so on. He tells us to be still and know He is God. This Psalm to me sounds like a foreshadowing of the tribulation, but it still brings comfort.

    It is during the dark times we are drawn closer to Him, and can learn things about Him we would not learn had it not been for those terrible things that happen.

    We must trust Him. We must trust Him, even when He’s quiet, and says nothing.

  2. BruceC says:

    Can’t pluck the verses up out of my head (old age maybe?) but we were created to serve God (willingly; hence free choice), to glorify and worship Him, and to have loving fellowship with Him. The key word I believe is “love”. And love is a choice. However we all have chosen to sin first. And that is the slippery slope of humanity. But our Lord has rescued us from that fall through Christ; and again because of His love for us. So that we can be be restored by faith in Christ to that fellowship with Him. So things will and must run their course until the Day we are united with Him and sin has come to an end.
    There are so many things we do not know about God or understand, but that is where faith comes into play. We will never know everything there is to know about God and that is why He alone is God. He alone knows all things.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  3. pspad says:

    I had just finished reading the last two chapters of the book of Job before reading the above mentioned article. It reminded me once again that He who created “Leviathan” and all the great creatures, is the same God who has created me. Shall I question His wisdom? Am I wise enough to “know” all things? In the midst of life’s turmoils, pain and sorrow, I am glad that I can turn to the one who is good and knows the final chapter of our lives and the lives of those who are near and dear. He who created me, loves me and He knows what’s best for me. If I ever doubt this, the cross of Christ reassures me of His over-riding and ever present love. His love for me and my faith in Him come together and all I can say is, “He is good and He makes no mistakes”!

  4. SFDBWV says:

    Way back years ago a friend of mine came to see me quite in mental anguish over a matter that had bothered her to a point of exhaustion.

    She came to me for comfort and answers.

    The best advice I could give her awoken her to peace that satisfied her need and has carried her for many years, though too often we pick back up the same problems we had victory over only to have to rediscover that which we already knew.

    The only true things we need to worry over are the things under our control, all else is out of our control and these things we can only *trust* to God.

    As we grow into maturity we are driven by emotional longings and all of our decisions base from there. Instinctively we seek *happiness* and shun unpleasantness.

    I have been witness to the suffering and unhappiness of too many people; I could have shunned such a position by callousness and indifference, but have always chosen to have sympathy and at times empathy for the suffering of others. I have discovered also that God places us where He wants us and uses us as is His will.

    When we come to accept that there is a God our view of the suffering we see in the world changes and with it comes that age old question as why God allows it to happen to those who *trust* Him.

    It is here that is the beginning of wisdom; the fear of God.

    Our happiness, our peace, our comfort all of our earthly and emotional needs are in the hands of God; like infants we are totally dependant on Him for our survival.

    What does it say about us when as long as everything is peaceful and content we are pleased about God’s care of us, but as soon as evil befalls us in its many forms we fault God for not doing the job we expected from Him?

    The only answer that we can come to terms with as believers is that there is something else at work here and because we are blind to it doesn’t mean that God has let us down or that He has abandoned us to our suffering, if we truly trust Him, it means that at some point in existence we will *see* and understand, though for now we need not understand only *trust*. For this is the *season* we are in and the attitude He requires from us.

    Steve

  5. jhblanc says:

    It seems most critics conviently put aside the free will factor when using this line of arguement. It relieves them and society of taking responsibility for their actions.
    By the way Revelation is not plural.

  6. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    The attributes of God are told in narrative form in the stories of the Bible. And all the wisdom books reflect both the negative and positive in the human mind and soul

    But, the gospel brings the attributes of God to life in human form. Mart, you wrote:
    “The Bible fleshes out this story. The question I have is what do you think it takes to make this story believable and meaningful to ourselves and others?”

    As we say “yes” to this New Covenant in Jesus Christ, we tell the story with the wonderful invitation to those around us to believe in him. It seems to me the only way to be convincing to our family, friends and neighbors is to live out the commandments Jesus fulfills by choosing his Way as we go about daily life.

    Humanity is not making much progress on the “free will” plan, it appears. Obedience to Jesus is one way out of our deadly dance with evil and sin. Suffering will remain as a feature of life in the world until Christ’s kingdom is present in its fullness.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  7. fadingman says:

    Usually suffering, to our minds, brings up thoughts of injustice, the consequences of sin, the result of the fall, etc. (One of my favorite quotes is “You can choose your choices, but you can’t choose the consequences of your choices.”) Man likes to blame God for suffering, but God intends good to come out of earthly suffering.

    Because of suffering, we can learn self-control, patience, trust, etc (Hebrews 5:8). Because of suffering, we can know God’s love for us, for His love has been fully revealed through what His Son suffered on the cross for us (1 John 3:16).

  8. SFDBWV says:

    Having learned long ago there are really no coincidences, only connections to the Holy Spirit, I will share with you this morning’s celebrity quote from the newspaper.
    “We’re all like detectives in life. There’s something at the end of the trail that we’re all looking for.” David Lynch

    Steve

  9. remarutho says:

    Morning All —

    Whew! Glad I reread all the posts, including mine! I wrote: “Obedience to Jesus is one way out of our deadly dance with evil and sin.”

    I omitted a crucial “the.” Obedience to Jesus is -the only- way out of our deadly dance with evil and sin.

    Sometimes, this narrow gate (Luke 13:24) is offensive to worldly minded folks. Can’t be helped. Tough old human self-will does not easily kneel before Christ’s all-powerful presence. Perhaps we all have the tendency to blame God rather than examine our own motives. When Jesus was teaching about the narrow gate, he finished by telling them/us “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Nobody can make that call but him.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  10. poohpity says:

    I think what would it take to make this story believable and meaningful is there is first another possibility that God is good and is also all powerful. In believing that I would submit another question to the hearer is suffering “bad” when good things can come from it? Without suffering are we really able to understand what joy is like when we would have nothing to compare it to? Ask those who brains are unable to experience pain what they would give to be able to have pain so that they would not hurt themselves. How can we have empathy unless we have experienced suffering?

    How is it that we blame God for things we do not necessarily like but those things that we enjoy we take credit for. If we trust God with all things then suffering has a purpose. How many come to God when everything in their lives are going well? Who is it then that brings us out the other side of suffering with endurance, humility, patience and strength of character rather than full of self pity, arrogant and pride filled?

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    Good morning… I would say that Steve and Maru have nailed it pretty well, with saying it takes, faith and obedience.

    I would say neither of those are we capable of possesing in our own strength, or maintaining without an ongoing relationship with Christ, where a tested faith is revealed through our true witness, a victory over our disobedience and unbelief is ever a possible, and a daily filling of His Holy Spirit is always welcome and needed.
    Gary

  12. remarutho says:

    Picked out the question you asked, Pooh, because I believe I have seen some who come to God for sake of conscience – especially when there is so much plenty that it is embarrassing.

    You asked: “How many come to God when everything in their lives are going well?” I remember seeing the kids on the beach in tourist-infested resorts in the Caribbean. They, it seemed to me, enjoyed the waves and the sand more than the bloated, pampered folks slathered in expensive tanning oil. I, for one, choked up to see the injustice of their material poverty – and yet their great joy in the simple pleasure of a day at the beach.

    Perhaps there are those who are ready to have the “thorns” (Luke 8:14) cleared from the garden of their hearts so the seeds of the Gospel will take root there, and flourish and bear fruit. I wonder whether perhaps there are good hearts that are not yet hardened by worldly pursuits – so that conscience and truth work on them by the moving of the Holy Spirit in those places where indulgence and extravagance rule? Just wondering. Just asking. Calls for prayer — just pleading for the Lord to save the lost…where the suffering of the peoples brings us to our knees in repentance.

    Yours,
    Maru

  13. poohpity says:

    I think even children suffer under the consequences of sin and when they hear the Gospel message they are quicker to see and admit the wrong they do and are in the need of the Savior. Even though I lived in a upper middle class family I still at age nine understood what the preacher was saying when I heard the message of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior. It does not necessarily have to do with material possession it has to do with a hunger down deep in our souls that cries for the hole to be filled by the only One who can fill it. Suffering can take many forms like suffering the consequences of sin it is still suffering.

    A child because parents teach them what is right or wrong and enacts a punishment but some adults as well as children will blame their behavior on others thus are less likely to admit wrong doing. Just like blaming God for suffering. Some suffering is from our own doing and some suffering just is a result of living in a fallen world but we were never promised a life free from suffering, trails, pain or temptation but our response to it is more important than trying to figure out why God has allowed it.

  14. poohpity says:

    If we will never figure out how big and vast the love of God is or why things are as they are we are still held to a finite understanding of an infinite being. Why would a Good God allow suffering maybe the answer is, why not, if we can see the benefit that suffering can bring to our lives. Joseph’s suffering brought rescue to a nation to be. Job’s suffering brought about an understanding of God he did not have before. Jesus’ suffering brought salvation, grace, mercy as well as many, many other lessons to an undeserving human race. Paul’s suffering brought the Lord’s message to many people and nations.

  15. remarutho says:

    The suffering of the fathers and mothers of the faith is noble suffering — I speak rather of the suffering perpetrated upon the have-nots by the haves. Jesus saw the people were like sheep without a shepherd — and his heart was moved. Conviction of sin is the first stirring of repentance in every heart.

    The Lord’s heart is still moved by those whose greed is a stumbling block to their deliverance from sin. The rich young ruler rejected the chance to receive the life and peace Jesus offered him. Jesus looked at him with love, not condemnation. His plan is still transformed hearts and deliverance and redemption, it seems to me. Nobody deserves Jesus’ amazing grace.

  16. poohpity says:

    Didn’t the rich young ruler when confronted by Jesus show that his money was in fact his god that he did not want to live without it. Is it suffering to go without material possessions? I have witnessed many who have very, very little yet they are content and are filled with joy like those you mentioned in the Caribbean but those I saw were in Africa. Then there are those who have storage rooms, closets and houses over flowing with stuff yet are not joy filled.

  17. remarutho says:

    I believe you are right on, Poohpity. There is a moving of the Holy Spirit that gives the likes of the rich young ruler cause to wonder, “What is it these poor (kids)have that makes them so filled with joy and rejoicing?” They have freedom from the weight of possessions.

    There is no reason to envy the rich who are empty and unable to share what they have been given by grace. I agree that doing without material plenty is not suffering. But, lack of basics: clean water, decent housing and sanitation, plenty of nourishment…can cause suffering and disease that are wrong. When one person’s lack is on account of another’s greed there is reason to seek justice. Thank God for the heart that is touched by such suffering — and perhaps that stirring of compassion is the beginning of a saving journey for the privileged. The truth can set them free.

  18. poohpity says:

    Lack of basic needs does cause much suffering. There are all kinds of suffering, illnesses both mental and physical, loss, abuse both mental and physical but does that show God is not good? It seems to me that our God had made provisions so people would not go hungry by leaving the edges of the fields alone while they were harvesting, sharing clothes with those who had none, plants that produce medicine, most tribes still in the backwoods who have not come into much contact with civilization pretty well make it on their own living off the land until some well meaning folks come in wanting to change their way of life. So is it in our desire to civilize mankind we have caused damage and more suffering?

  19. bubbles says:

    Possessions do not bring joy or happiness.

    Our relatonship with the Lord is the most important thing. Even when things are not right, we still have a home in Heaven.

    Having a friend is more important than things.

  20. His Sparrow says:

    I work at a long term care facility for people with traumatic brain injury.
    Mostly from accidents. Parts of the brain work, other parts don’t; each day is a “reset” for memory and behavior. They will never be “well” in this world. they want to know why it happened to them and not the “other guy.”

    I don’t understand why God allows this. I didn’t say “merry” during the holidays…it would be hypocritical and dishonest; yet I can’t do anything to explain God’s “all everything” to them ’cause He doesn’t tell me. It’s frustrating and depressing. I care about these people, now my friends, my neighbors,but I have no hope to tell them about…

    Love
    His Sparrow

  21. bubbles says:

    Deb, your post of 2:31 today hit the nail on the head.
    You are exactly correct.

  22. SFDBWV says:

    His Sparrow, you have flushed out the intent of Mart’s topic and questions.

    We can all come up with grand sounding reasoning meant to satisfy our limits of understanding, but that is who it is we are trying to convince, *ourselves*, not those in the condition you have explained and others in a similar situation in life.

    It is embarrassing to hear some people try and *explain* God, or what may seem as His indifference to people who have lost all hope.

    Where is victory in telling someone that once they die their suffering is over? Where is common sense then in telling that same person they have reason not to kill themselves?

    For as long as people have been recording their thoughts these same questions arise and arise with no good sounding answers that satisfy our limits of understanding.

    God’s given Word tells us in Ecclesiastes 1-11 that the world continues as is, generation after generation, day after day year after year with nothing new.

    For me, great understanding is given in Ecclesiastes 1: 18. It seems the less we know the better off our peace in accepting things for the way they are.

    The very well known verse’s of Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 explain a lot, but Ecclesiastes 3: 11 sums it up and in Ecclesiastes 3: 12 we are offered good advice.

    The oldest Book of the Bible Job gives us a glimmer of hope in both the knowledge that God is God and will do as He wills, even at the expense of human suffering, but there is something eternal in this story and in time God will make all things right, even if after our time of suffering and even our death.

    The entire story of Jesus, the promise of His coming, His birth, His words, His promises, His sacrifice and resurrection all meant to give hope and encouragement to all who have none.

    The Book of Hebrews 11: 1 *Now* faith is explained, now meaning right now for you, me and all others. Chapter 11 goes on to name hero’s of faith who died never seeing their promises fulfilled, yet remaining filled with faith and remaining in trust to God even though they went down into the grave.

    For those as His Sparrow has given in witness, it is *our* faith and hope that we extend to them even if they never understand it or receive it fully. So we never give up, we care, we weep, we love and we trust God in all we can not understand or *see* for them as well as for ourselves.

    Steve

  23. poohpity says:

    Steve, your last paragraph says a lot. Only if you have hope can you share it with others.

    Telling someone when they die that their suffering is over is not very much hope is it and may cause someone to commit suicide.

  24. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    I am seeking His purpose and will for this very question. There must be a reason why He’s allowed so much tragedy, hardships of all sorts with no support especially from churches. The latter really gets to me because I am dedicated to serving, well liked but no support once I leave the building other than “we’re praying for you.” Thankful for this, I wondered, “Are they really?” You would shake your head in disbelief at all that has happened and how I had to handle it by myself. Alone in the ER as my husband took his last breath, I was so numb I forgot to pray! So I ask why would a good God allow so much over most of my life? What am I supposed to do with all this? Please take time and see if you agree and perhaps this may shed light on your path.

    First, He rescued me from the dominion of darkness, I am not even fit to be the least in His kingdom. So, who am I to even speak of his possible reasons to this question? Since I have no one to counsel me, I hope you will respond to, “Why would a good God allow suffering?”

    1)Was I a testing tool for the many churches I was moved to? Epic fail comes to my mind first.
    2)Feeling like I was surrounded by kin to Job’s friends, (at least he had somebody) did I do something to warrant this? The tragedies were far more complex and long lasting than a chastisement.
    3) Why must I conform the hard way? Rebellion worse than the norm?
    4) Job’s friends misled, could this be the reason why I was left with the Lord as my only counselor, comfort. Did I really think I needed more?

    But look at what people saw:
    I was a shining light, joy, dedicated to the Lord’s work through all this plus walked the extra mile filling in positions. This was God’s work, I seriously drug myself there. During the roughest times, the Spirit led lessons that I wrote were very effective for the children and also in the adult devotions. People also saw me rise above and referred to me as super woman. “No, it’s God’s work,” I corrected. “I am a sinner with a powerful God who may be using me to show His power. You may need to know this some day.” Am I really even fit to say this?
    Here’s another probable reason for tragedies:
    Conforming to the likeness of Christ: I wouldn’t have even started that path if I was still caught up in the world. It did take tragedy to bring me to my knees.
    There were witnesses to God’s work when we were caught on a 14 ft boat with wind speeds reaching 100 mph. Interesting lesson after that one, but it also involved 6 more months of tragedies. Many more incidents of His direct work as well. Did He show this because He allowed the intense tragedies but walked the extra mile again when no one else did? That’s kind of vain but not meant to be.
    Confidence was built, strength, trust, when I was separated from the crowds, forums, support because my dependency was on Him where His power to conform and bless are there.
    Do we go to God when life is good? Do we say, “Wow, this is really sinful and I know I would be dead if I lived in the olden days. Lead me not into temptation right now!” Generally not. We wait until we’re in the hole that we dug. Yes, I believe God allows good to suffer because He loves us enough to conform us. In revelation we read who will not be a part of God’s kingdom. Do you have any continuing sins like these mentioned?

  25. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve and Sparrow… I can’t quite put it all together right now but the thoughts that each of you have shared about “not understanding” have been somewhat comforting to me this morning. When I reflect on what I DIDN’T understand as a child and what I DON’T understand as an old woman, I am inclined to think that the KNOWLEDGE of “good and evil” is what I lacked as a child or at least I wasn’t “aware” of it. In that lack I didn’t know anger, false pride and surely a lot more that I didn’t know that I can’t remember right now. Having experienced the “good and evil” in others as well as myself and trying to UNDERSTAND it, is time consuming and draining.

    In my youth, I recall adults saying to me, “That is your PROBLEM, you DON’T think”. In later years, I have been told, “That is your PROBLEM, you think too much”. Without hashing out mega memories, I suspect almost every memory has a conflicting memory thus trying to sort it out into right and wrong, good and bad to make sense just leads to further frustration.

    While I still long for God to speak to me CLEARLY and SHOW me each and every step to take and tell me every word for word to speak, to produce abundant Fruit, I am going to try to REMEMBER to stay focused on HIM, in Faith and Hope. I believe my memory may very well suffer from excessive and useless thought activity

  26. narrowpathseeker says:

    AmazedbyHisGrace, as always, your last message was beautiful, humble, and moving. I haven’t time to comment further but I wanted you to know that I appreciate your thoughtful contributions.

  27. poohpity says:

    I have always believed that people who are suffering as well in my sufferings that the first thing I did not need was advice. I needed and wanted comfort, a listening ear, and someone to just sit with me. That is what I can offer to others in their suffering. Not answers to questions we may never have the answers to. Not platitudes of understanding but genuine care and concern. The things that came out of my mouth during those times of suffering some may have been filled with anger and may have made no sense but just for someone to listen, pray with me and hold me was all that was needed.

    When someone is not comfortable with just doing those basics then most of the time they were trying to fix the problems and that was not at all what was needed. Job told his friends that they were causing more damage by trying to answer why questions and giving him advice when he just wanted someone to listen and comfort him.

    Amazed, I have experienced from the larger churches the lack of care you speak of and found that some people are just not comfortable around people who are suffering because they just do not know what to do or say so they run away from it. You understand what you needed in those times so in turn you will be able to give that to others. 2 Cor 1:3-4

  28. bep77 says:

    how to make “this story believeable & meaningful to myself & others?” This is what came to me this morning: It isn’t me/us that will “save” or convince someone, but it is up to me/us to tell that story, God will do the rest. Also, one day I found the true translation to Galatians 2:20 ….”I live by THE faith OF the Son of God.”( not I live by faith IN the Son of God) my faith will never and can never be as strong as Jesus’,so I really need to depend on Him living in me and His faith. I’m not saying I’m good at that or that I don’t still question why? but isn’t that what we strive for?

  29. bubbles says:

    I have found there are VERY few people who genuinely care about anyone but themselves. As long as a problem is not theirs, they don’t really care.

    I don’t want to rattle of rhetorical words to someone when they are in pain. That is the last thing they want or need to hear.

  30. kingdomkid7 says:

    In his book God Wins, Mark Galli says there are questions, and then there are questions. He says the question virgin Mary asked the angel was a different question from the question Zacharias asked the angel who came to tell him of the impending birth of his son, John the Baptist. Two questions, two different responses. Mary was blessed and left to ponder all that God would do in her life as the Holy Spirit caused her to give birth to the King. The question Mary asked was factual: how will this happen as I am a virgin? Zacharias was struck dumb because he did not believe fully that God could do what the angel Gabriel was telling him God would do.
    So what kind of question are we asking here? Is it a question that doubts the goodness of God? Is it a question that assumes the goodness of God but somehow still wonders how He can let awful things happen? Is it a question that would satisfy anyone and everyone if answered? I only have questions about this question. I trust God. That much I know. I’m like Job on that: though he slay me . . . . And that is what I tell people.

  31. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Thank you narrowpathseeker. Your name states where we are to be at trials end. I do hope the intense trials are over for me..would prefer all trials to be. I find it interesting that the most intense were in the last 18 months of my husband’s life with multiple, constant mishaps. Every morning and through the day, I was looking to see if he was still breathing. The rest of the incidents were extremely unusual and mishaps occurred through the funeral and all the way to the grave site. Again, I’m not sure what to think of all this. I can see the Lord’s display of His work in me, but the intensity of this and other extreme happenings is a matter of question. It bothers me as I’m not sure if I should try to tell our story again. Every time I work on it, something else happens. (Currently re-fractured my toes for the 4th time in 3 months.) It’s either not God’s will or I have a testimony that will plant seeds in many.
    Poohpity: I agree with you but I’ve also seen the opposite. I’m not one who thinks that position matters, but when pew sitters get the support of minor problems to major, my attitude needs tweaked as it’s it’s a little disheartening. I see the light on this now! Perhaps this was my test that I failed. Odd because I’m one to try and find the good. No matter what, we should look past our work for the Lord and be joyful no matter who is getting their needs met. I sure hope that sinks in because I don’t want to be re-tested!
    Bep77 The light just brightened on something
    I already knew. I’ve been afraid that people won’t believe me on many of the mishaps. It bothers me that people may think I’m dishonest especially speaking of incidents involving the Lord’s work. If it’s the Lord’s will, then I shouldn’t fear this. That’s also the narrow road i tend to fall off of.

  32. BruceC says:

    kingdomkid,

    I think the questions of Mary and Zacharias were very much alike. Luke 1:18 and Luke 1:34. Both asked how this can be. Zacharias because of his age and the age of Elisabeth, and Mary becasue she was still a virgin. But God had a different purpose for each child. Also Zacharias did not speak until he beheld the Christ. That must have amazed his associates in the temple; but fits in well with the Jews always looking for a sign.
    God has His purpose and plan for doing what He does even in very similar circumstances. We can drive ourselves insane if we ask “why” too much, especially in light of the fact that God is not required to tell us. I sometimes have a problem balancing the command to forgive our enemies after reading Psalms and seeing what David’s desire was upon his. This in light of God rferring to David as a man after His heart. Many times I have thought that I would like to see some humbling things happen to those that have mistreated or misused me or my wife. But then God sort of shakes me up and reminds me that it is not place to fret about these things. I still struggle with that; and I did even more so as a cop. God help me in these areas.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  33. kingdomkid7 says:

    I agree, Bruce, that the questions were similar. But the angel told Zacharias “thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.Luke 1:20 (KJV). So the questions were received by the angel as different. Zacharias’s question went more to wanting proof that it would happen. Mary was not seeking proof. I think she may have been asking how, and he may have been asking why. Often, we need God to tell us “how” so that we can cooperate with Him. I think “why” distances us from Him, but that’s just how I have come to see it.
    I know that God is patient with our questions, whatever their variety, but my point is that why questions more easily lead to unbelief and doubt. We probably all have experienced something that triggers the why question of God. I am learning not to ask and just trust. That is my point. Ever since my mother and brother were both killed, God has graciously allowed me to move away from a need to always ask why. I may not understand all or any of these “whys” in this lifetime. So I am satisfied with that because I trust Him. That’s all I’m saying.

  34. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    It seems to me we have some tendency as humans to set up this “2 possibility” paradox you mention Mart, in our own thinking and feeling about all the suffering and loss we see in natural and man-made disasters. A spokesman for the electrical power system of New York noted this week that the six most destructive events in the known history of the city and state have occurred in the last two and a half years. There is real evidence that natural disasters are more frequent, especially near the coasts of nations.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “In the darkness we hear a whisper that tells us that if we were God, we’d never let this happen. Repeatedly, doubts grow out of the thought that there are only 2 possibilities: Either God is good, but not all-powerful, or he is all-powerful but not good.”

    This “either/or” thinking is a sad characteristic of putting the Creator God to the test. It seems to me it is the theme of those three friends of Job that makes them look foolish at the end of the story. Conventional moral reasoning cannot describe the unspeakable power of God. All things are in God’s hand, and I cannot explain why most people are trapped in this deficient way of thinking in either/or terms. I agree that doubts arise from the narrowness of our minds and hearts.

    We have no natural freedom from our fallen state, but we do have eternity in our reach. We can open our hearts and minds to the love of God, which is as immense as his omnipotent power. We can choose to set aside the doubts that arise from categorical thinking. Prayer and waiting upon the Lord are not simple or easy, but they are a genuine course correction from pursuing doubt to the point of rejecting God’s ways in the world.

    You summarize much Scripture in the seven-point list of God’s attributes you posted. The source of our great hope in our God is especially outstanding in points “c” and “e”:
    “c. A God who suffers and groans with us in the resulting evil and chaos.”
    and further…
    “e. A God who takes on flesh to suffer for us.”
    In the great gift of Jesus, we are supplied with the assurance that we can trust God in any circumstance.

    There was nothing else in the whole universe that could deliver us from the suffering of this rebellious and resistant creation. The Lord breathed us into being – and he is even now about the work of bringing his ultimate transformation of the suffering and chaos we experience — through the full coming of his kingdom.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  35. SFDBWV says:

    In Matthew 10: 28, 29 there is revelation knowledge; in verse 28 we read that Jesus says not to be concerned with them who can only kill you, but are not able to kill your soul. More important it is to *fear* *Him* who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    In verse 29 Jesus says that Sparrows are of little earthly value, but that not one of them falls to the ground with our your *Father*.

    What I learn from these two passages of Scripture is that calamity will come, even in the form of death, God doesn’t always stop it or prevent it, He observes as well as allows these things to occur, as heart breaking as it is for us to experience. He is God and it is only He who is able destroy our souls and only He who is able to place us in hell.

    He is worthy to be feared.

    Our advocate is the person of Jesus of Nazareth; only through Him can we come before God. The Levite priests had to wear special clothing when entering the Holy of Holies, Jesus is our covering.

    The Levite priests had to spill blood for the sins of the people; the Levite priests gave over to the Romans, Jesus of Nazareth for the same purpose, but were unaware they were obeying God’s will and that this special sacrifice would be the blood covering for all of mankind.

    We are told that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8: 28). Whereas it is very difficult to understand how anything *good* can come from any of the tragedies and suffering we witness, once again it is *blind* trust that we must incorporate into our thinking about these matters.

    Jesus wept at the death of His friend Lazarus; why would Jesus weep knowing that in a few moments Lazarus would be raised from the dead as well as knowing that in eternity Lazarus would be in that heavenly paradise?

    Because being human Jesus could feel the emotion of loss and fear and of heartbreak, Jesus wept because he is human and so we weep because we are human. We weep, we mourn, we want happiness not sorrow and when sorrow comes we look for a way out as well as an answer as to, why me, as though a comforting answer from God could erase all the sorrow we *feel*.

    The answer comes in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but as said in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3: 4, there is a time to mourn, so even though we have an answer sometimes we still must mourn.

    And may I say that also in the Book of Ecclesiastes 11: 13, 14 we are told to conclude the matter by fearing God and keeping His commandments, because in the end it is God who will bring everything into judgment whether it be good or evil.

    Steve

  36. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    Steve, you bring up a wonderful truth of Jesus, as our Brother and our God:
    “Jesus wept at the death of His friend Lazarus; why would Jesus weep knowing that in a few moments Lazarus would be raised from the dead as well as knowing that in eternity Lazarus would be in that heavenly paradise?”

    Jesus loved Lazarus in a special way — as a fellow human being and as his God, present at the creation and having knowledge of him no mere human being could have.
    He wept, as we would for a friend who had been so full of life and joy — now lying in a tomb. Those around him said of Jesus, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36)

    God loves us so that he was willing to give his own blood and flesh as the final offering to purchase us back from destruction. His love is genuine and powerful — and his victory over death and suffering is ultimate and eternal. What a gift we have been given.

    God is allowing tragedy, war and destruction. His perfect will is that the Lamb offered once for all will wipe away every tear from the eyes of those who mourn. (Revelation 7:17)

    Blessings,
    Maru

  37. BruceC says:

    I have wondered from time to time why Jesus wept. It really doesn’t say conclusively. Bystanders said “See how he loved him”; but that is just their observation. Maybe He wept becasue of their lack of faith. That Lazarus would not have died if He were there. Or becasue they did not yet see Him as the resurrection and Giver of eternal life. Only one said that God would grant Jesus what he requested. I wonder if our Lord weeps over our (my) lack of faith?
    It is surely hard for our limited brain to understand how God could allow so much suffering and evil.
    But when I see our land, our society, and the world I begin to see some of it. Did not Jeremiah warn Judah and Israel? Were they not warned of the events to follow? Did they heed the warning?
    I pray that the Lord send us more Jeremiahs.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  38. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Seeing more gain from a loss/tragedy is the mark of a successful journey with the Lord through the the trials or testings. In the midst, it’s nearly impossible from a human point to understand how all things work together for the good to them who love the Lord. Considering it pure joy, James 1:2-4, is on the back burner, turned off during this time. And that’s perfectly okay, Jesus didn’t either.
    When Jesus faced His upcoming torturous death and prayed: “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Was He in human hope that God would provide a ram in thicket like Abraham? His human emotion showed that joy was not present nor would it be. He also knew that His purpose was from the love of God and for His brothers and sisters.
    If we look at our path, can we really even say God allows if we chose our own steps that led us there? Did you and your wife pray whole heartedly for God’s will to bring forth a child, a job, house, etc? If you lost them, should we point and say, God allows? The good news id that He will see us through, but we must follow and focus on Him to have this successful journey. And yes, it’s far more gain than loss…even losing children. (That took years of total focus and growth.)
    As God is in control and all wise, I believe incidents to happen are in the shadows of our lives. I believe He waits for us to come to Him so He may lead us through the difficult path to recovery. But as always, we have free will.

  39. poohpity says:

    Bruce, I have thought that way too. I believe Jesus wept because the sisters after spending all that time with Jesus still did not understand who He was or trust in His power. If our hope is in the Lord then the bible teaches there is purpose in suffering and even though we may not understand, we trust.

    I personally have reverence for the Lord it is not a fear in the sense of being afraid it is more like in awe of all that I do understand which is very little, I can see His heart and know He is good. I have never felt it is God who destroys our souls there is only one destroyer and only one who wants to interfere in our relationship with God and if the destroyer can get us to believe that God is anything other than a loving merciful, good God then he has won. If we are persuaded that suffering can not be beneficial then we will doubt God’s goodness.

    The only thing that will make this believable or meaningful to ourselves and others is if we believe deep down into our very being that it is true, a-g listed above which we have found in the story from Genesis through Revelation. We can not share our hope unless we have hope to begin with.

  40. oneg2dblu says:

    Good day all… there are few things that make Jesus so very different from us, first He lives in complete Divinity ,and while He walked on this earth He was also fully human.
    If we being fully human have an the capacity of emotion, it was also an emotion the Jesus had in His flesh as well.
    He was tempted in his flesh, but He was never challenged in His Ultimate all powerful Divine Nature.
    That would be no contest!
    We also are not tempted in our flesh if we are fully surrendered to the Spirit within us,) because that Spirit lives on a higher plain than where the flesh can dwell.
    IMHO
    Christ was tempted is his flesh, not is His Spirit, and defended himself through the Spirit, using the very Word of God that He alone possessed naturally as part of His perfectly combined existence.

    God has given each of us the very same Spirit, His Holy Spirit, but our flesh does not by it’s nature choose to always respond to temptation as Christ had.

    We alone can deny that Holy Spirit’s power, and live outside the Will of God, and we do so by giving into our free will choice to ignore it.

    Our battles are all won or lost in the mind, and having the mind of Christ, giving all power to the Spirit, instead of our wrongly motivated choices where we have actually given the power of victory over to defeat.
    IMHO Gary

  41. Privy says:

    Of a truth, it can be painful when one considers the unpleasant happenings in the world, especially the ones that makes us want to wonder how fair God is.

    Though we, naturally, ponder on this happenings from a human standpoint, for which our earthly lives serve as the locus, the reality, however, is that our lives and times (and the happenings in it), as I understood from the bible, are like a dot on a very long line. Even if we know a substantial part of the past, there is a lot more ahead even after our earthly lives.

    We should definitely try our best but some of these things may not be preventable. Yet God still remains his all-powerful self. We cannot restrict him to behavioral standards/patterns that suit our human expectations, no matter how good they may seem.

  42. foreverblessed says:

    AmazedbyHisGrace, thank you so very much for your story. It is a great testimony for the Grace of God. Thank you for sharing.
    Suffering is such a hard story, but when I hear of such a story as of Amazed then I know, yes, as Christ suffered and we follow Him, how can we think we shall not suffer?
    As we will share in His suffering we also will share in His glory.
    The glory of bringing many to His salvation.
    If you type glory and suffering in the biblegateway site, then you can see what verses appear.
    But these verses are for the believer. and as Amazed wrote, after the deep part of the suffering is over.

  43. foreverblessed says:

    Amazed, I found a Psalm that tells about your story: Psalm 66:8-9,10-11,12-13. The whole Psalm is beautiful!

  44. SFDBWV says:

    For the most of us we are all capable of instinctively having a sense of fairness and recognizing things being in their proper place in life.

    Where does that come from?

    We don’t need to have religion or philosophy to know fairness, we just know, even the smallest of children know without instruction.

    For the most of us we completely relate to the unsophisticated statement “That ain’t right!”

    We see it when we see someone lose all of their possessions or even their lives in a flood or tornado or fire or earthquake.

    We all see it in the daily interaction between people as who most of us consider to be undeserving people win out over those whom seem more justly deserving.

    We all can make that distinction without a written rule of what seems right, the opposite being what seems wrong.

    From birth we possess this knowledge and as a result we apply it to all we witness and learn of, even in our attempts to understand God.

    Perhaps this same instinct and shadow of the nature of God, that He has imparted into His creation, is what inspired Satan to *question* God and begin to believe that he knew better than God.

    Steve

  45. infiniti07 says:

    The cares of this world (Mk4:19) distracts us from what is important to God. Our physical body is not what’s important to God but our soul is. Whether we believe in God or not, no one cannot refute the fact that physically, there is an end to this life we have, whether we are content with our circumstances or in dire straits.

    Seems to me that when I become comfortable with my situation I life, it is easy for me to let my relationship with God slip and the material world has its way with me if I don’t somehow keep it in check. However, when I find myself in the “valleys” of life, it is good to know that God remains faithful to my relationship with him even though he may not remove the discomfort or whatever it is that is causing my pain.

    I believe God allows suffering and loss among those who are close and all around us with the hope that we would be moved to relieve that suffering in some way based on having gone through our similar personal experiences. God’s promise for a carefree life devoid of illness and trouble is not in this fallen world we live in but in paradise. All who have accepted Christ through faith have this assurance. The life we live is therefore the working out of this gift of eternity we have in Christ Jesus.

    The central story in life is about Jesus and what he did to bring us to a relationship with our creator, God. If this is not central to whatever it is that I do in life, it would be as Solomon says about life being meaningless.

  46. oneg2dblu says:

    If we know God, we know He created all things for a purpose… His pleasure. So life is never meaningless.
    We also know that God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind, even many of those who do not know him through His Word the bible, they believe in other ways of expressing this eternity, things like reincanation for one, come to my mind.
    So by following certain religionsr we can then place that eternity question into another form to satisfy man’s question, “Is that all there is?”
    Forgetting about all religion and just following the written word of God, the bible, all our questions can be answered, but, we must first be given the faith to believe that bible is the Word of God!
    That huge step of specific faith that only God can impart is what separates all humanity.
    The bible says that God has shown himself to all, and those who will believe in Him, will also follow Him, and are saved by their faith.
    Those who reject Him, those who now suffer in their unbelief and disobedience, their eternity, is in the Lake of Fire according to the Word of God, which is found in the bible.
    However, you don’t need the bible to first believe, but you do need to “hearthe word of God, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God,” according to the bible.
    So to me life is neither meaningless or lived without a sense of eternity.
    Unless of course you choose to live your life otherwise, or have been deceptively misled or even wrong in your profound finding of unbelief and object disobedience.
    Would a fair God then allow a disobedient unbeleiver, or a deceived person to suffer in their own demise?
    Gary

  47. poohpity says:

    How does an unbeliever even know they are being disobedient while even those who say they know God are not obedient? God does not have any of us to suffer our own demise but has offered hope, peace and grace through the sacrifice of His Son. John 16:33; Isaiah 43:2

    How would one recognize a prophet similar to Jeremiah if we would think for a moment we would be any different than those who did not receive the messages that Jeremiah gave.

    I have often wondered that those who built their houses and businesses so close to the shores of a raging ocean did not realize the possibility of a hurricane. Or those who have built their homes or businesses on the lines of faults then when an earthquake comes they blame God. When we live in a fallen world and are guilty of bringing suffering to others ourselves why the first One to get blamed is God? I guess because blame is just part of the human condition.

    When God began this whole creation had intended from what I understand for it to be paradise as He walked with His creation no suffering or trails seemed to be in the mix until we wanted to be like God. Well look what that has done to us and continues to do. I believe we have a shelter when everything around us seems so messed up like ODB for today says, “When trouble comes, His presence is His promise.” (Romans 8:38-39) We were never promised a life free from suffering when it was not withheld from Immanuel (God with us) but we were promised not to be left alone in it. Deut 31:6,8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Kings 8:57

  48. oneg2dblu says:

    Forget Jeremiah for now… that’s a bunny trail.

    How does anyone ever recognize Christ in us, if we do not live any differently than before hearing His Word,
    especially if we now suffer the same as the world around us?

    Remember, we “were found” to be living like everyone else as enemies of God, living in both our unbelief and our disobedience.

    Now, how can we not change after claiming to know all the promises, tasting His presence, expecting this new hope of eternity through knowing Him, and then upon hearing His very words, “If you love me you will obey my commands,” then go on living as if those words were never spoken or recorded?

    Do we then just continue to ignore His Commands, and only cling to, and praise His promisies?

    I think not!

    Actually, we fail to ever show any change to overcome the world, by not living as He who now lives in us, He who has overcome the world, when we justify our old walk or continue to live in a lack of faith to overcome.

    Is this living as being unchanged, the originally taught Christ-like way to live?

    I think not!

    Or, is there now an ever popular doctrinally driven newer way, being more acceptable to the masses by making the narrow gate become for us, the newer believers, an open pit of sinning freely and allowing grace to grow more abundantly?

    I hope not!

    Or, are we now awarded our salvation only by not obeying His commands, and not believing we need to change by having the faith in Him to bring about this change in us?

    It seems to me, that the world can not see our faith through our obedience if we remain disobedient.

    Or, can they see our salvation revealed through our knowing our Saviour if we ignore His commands?

    But, I may be wrong.

    How can they see our God through us, as we are to be a light unto this ever darkening world, but we continue to walk and suffer as they who do not see?

    Where then is our witness?

    Where then is our good God?

    Why would we then suffer the same as the rest of the world?

    We don’t!

    We have two things they do not yet have, a faith in Jesus Christ, and access to an Almighty God to bring with us into all our suffering.

    So, we should suffer less because of those two things, which all others do not yet have.

    Be Blessed, Gary

  49. kingdomkid7 says:

    I see what you are saying, Gary — except for the part about the “open pit of sinning freely,” because that part does not sound like anything that a believer would actually do. But I agree that we should look different from the world when we face suffering and disappointments, because we suffer in fellowship with Jesus Christ. We have hope. It is Him, and He ushers us through the storms of life.

  50. s2inkzoo says:

    So many great thoughts here. Thanks to all that posted!

  51. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    Thank you Foreverblessed. I don’t know anyone elses story but I think the Lord blesses people more when there’s no support during the tests. Does anyone else feel like this? If the Lord gave you choice of suffering through trials with abundant gain in Him or a padded life with no gain, what would you choose? I’d take the gain but wouldn’t want to admit it until I saw of felt it. ~”Consider” it pure joy when you are facing trials of many kinds.~ I find that interesting because it doesn’t boldly state that it is or will be pure joy. Liken that to the Lord patting you on the back while your backside is about ready to get a hard paddling (trials) to conform you.
    I strongly encourage you to dive into the Lord’s word when you are struggling. I believe you will be blessed to see God’s awesome work during the roughest times. Also, when you know it can only be the Spirit of God blessing you with overflowing peace and joy, is there nothing better?
    This is too good not to share: First, realize I’m not a goody two shoes that ran from life’s corruption. I wasn’t a hard core alcoholic/drug addict, but still an addict who through the Lord has been able to stay sober through years and years of hardships. During one of these tough times, we had multiple mishaps, near deaths, I was working 14-18 hrs a day and growing leaps and bounds in the Lord. I refuse to be a member of a denomination and by that church’s by-laws, non members couldn’t teach. However, the minister saw the work of the Lord in me. Not only did I teach, I wrote the lessons. It was so awesome to see this wild group settle after asking the Lord’s pressence to be with us. With the worst behaviors active (times 18) then suddenly peacefully settled and attentive was close to a miracle! God blessed me with great strength and also each one with salvation by summers end.
    I really need your prayers though for a long time. I have a way to probably go nationwide/world wide with my story. I’ve spilled so much here, you’ll know exactly who I am. No matter, because it’s the Lord and His work I wish to glorify. However, everytime I move forward with this, intense mishaps occur. (Extreme last year and part of this year. We were going to start with a large part of this project and my husband died the day before.) I’ve currently re-fractured my foot four times in the last 3 months. (I do have a sense of humor and wrote a song called Bullseye a few years ago.)I don’t know if this is happening because I have quite a testimony or if it’s just not God’s will. I’m not really wanting to be known publicly either. I’m afraid to move forward.
    Thanks and I hope that my trials can show that God’s mercy, His love and willingess to lead will bless you and many more!

  52. cherielyn says:

    Sorry for another far too long absence here, which is due partly to internet issues which won’t be resolved until sometime this spring, but mostly due to continuing issues with my son. I have barely had time to read any of the blogs or posts in the past month (or is it longer?).

    On this subject: “Why Would a Good God Allow Such Suffering?” I have asked myself this question quite a few times over the past several months. I have to believe that, in the end, God will be glorified. I just am unable to see how with my human understanding.

    I have shared bits & pieces about my son (as Steve has about Matt). My son, Mike, has been staying with me since mid-December. We are now at a crossroads. Mike wants to stay in his apartment, but his dementia has progressed to the point where it is becoming unsafe for him to be alone. He has some really good days where he seems absolutely normal and then a bad day sprinkled in here and there. It is the bad days that have us concerned, when he thinks someone stole his car because he forgot that it has been at my home since Thanksgiving; forgets how to flush the toilet; wakes up to find himself sleeping in the bathtub, not knowing how he got there; can’t figure out how to use the microwave so eats his food cold and so many others, too lengthy to list.

    He is going to have to go into an Adult Family Home and is angry about it. He says we want to “put him away” and “he will be forgotten about.” Says if he has to go there he will run away.

    So, Why WOULD a good God allow such suffering? Only He knows and I am prayerfully waiting for His answer. Once Mike is settled and I have his apartment cleared out, I will have the time to visit on a more regular basis, IF the internet connection cooperates. I do think of each of you often and you are in my prayers. I may not know what is currently going on in your lives, but God knows. I covet your prayers and, once again, I am so sorry for not being able to participate more regularly.

  53. remarutho says:

    Good Morning All —

    Prayers going up over here for those who daily soldier on with trials and loads to bear — especially relationships that always challenge. May we all dwell in the shadow of His wings. (Psalm 17:8)

    Amazed, you wrote:
    “I strongly encourage you to dive into the Lord’s word when you are struggling. I believe you will be blessed to see God’s awesome work during the roughest times.”

    Amen and Amen, Sister! There is comfort and inspiration in the Holy Scriptures. Otherwise, it seems to me that I at least am like a carp sucking up the gravel at the bottom of the (media) pond — consuming stuff that does not nourish my spirit.

    E Stanley Jones ((Abundant Living, Abingdon, 1942) taught yesterday, “The laws of God are the laws we see operating in nature itself. Walk on green, wait on red. Avoid being struck by the forces at work outside the covering of Jesus’ promises and commandments.” (my paraphrase). It seems so simple…and still He does not give us guarantees in this life that suffering will not overtake us.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  54. narrowpathseeker says:

    Cherielyn, I was so glad to see your name here this morning! I have been thinking about you a LOT in the past few days(much stronger and more frequent than usual). So yesterday I asked Him with a big PLEASE, to let everything be ok with you…..AND here you are!

    I am so sorry, that things are still unsettling for you, but it seems that they are getting better. I will be praying that Mike will find his new home and new friends to be unexpectedly far more pleasant and enjoyable than he could have hoped for and that you will be at peace with it all.

    I am also having pc problems…but only because my children bought me a new one with Windows 8 and “I just don’t get it!!” ;-) It’s very confusing and frustrating at times because for me “new and better” ISN’T…lol Again, I am so glad you stopped by Cherielyn.

  55. narrowpathseeker says:

    I tried to post a comment to Cherielyn and a window saying that page couldn’t be displayed came up. When I tried again it said I had already said that …it was a duplicate, but it wasn’t posted…. ??????

  56. narrowpathseeker says:

    OK…sorry, it did come up after(or while I was posting) the 11:44 comment

  57. oneg2dblu says:

    Good day all… I thought I would share this little comforting but obscure tid-bit about a good God and how He controls all things, who thank God is always in control.
    Did you know that regardless of the weather conditions that can bring their fury upon the seashore, regardless of the strength of the waves, they always hit the shore at twenty-six times a minute.
    To me that says whatever this life deals to us there is a rythm or balance that will be God’s alone, and if He is for us, who can be against us?
    Faith is the scale with which we can balance all the unbalance in this life. Gary
    Who can over-rule Him?

  58. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Amazed, you wrote:-I don’t know anyone elses story but I think the Lord blesses people more when there’s no support during the tests.-
    I believe that is so, that God wants us to rely on Him, that there are testing times that more and more we and God together. I also believe that is something that happens when a couple are falling in love, they want to be alone together, no need of other people, that that is how our love relation with our Maker is growing, Just Him and me.
    Thanks for the blessing, if we have our eyes fixed on Jesus, He will not let us go, He will light our path, and be a lamp for our feet. Be absolutely sure that the Holy Spirit is very plain in guiding you, otherwise do not move.

    Cherilyn, you and your son are in my prayer. May God bless you both.

  59. SFDBWV says:

    One of my gifts or curses, depending on how you look at it, is the ability to observe life and then to ponder it.

    Who among us escapes the pain of living?

    In intense pain our mothers brought us into this world and right away we cry.

    Philosophers and poets attempt to explain that emotion and need to understand; all fall short of actually putting a word together that encapsulates the pain and frustration of living.

    However.

    One of the universal laws of creation is that for everything there is an equal or opposite reaction to it.

    Where we have love, we have hate, where we have war we have peace, where we have hunger we have fullness, where we laugh we also cry.

    Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

    Be a friend to someone today, pass along a smile, tell someone you love them, hold a hand, pat a shoulder, give a hug, do something for someone else just because they need it…Thank God for it all.

    Steve

  60. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve…Amen.. especially the last paragraph. Also, please share with Matthew that I got on the scale yesterday and I had gained a few pounds! I thought of Matthew at once and what a great accomplishment he has made losing over a hundred pounds! It’s been very cold here so I haven’t been walking my mile or two. I don’t know if it is the cold weather or the lack of exercise that has increased my appetite, but I DO know that what Matthew did was no easy feat! So, I would like to congratulate him again. …..INCREDIBLE JOB MATTHEW!!!

    AmazedbyHisgrace: The other day you mentioned worrying about what people would think of your story as to whether it was true. I thought of you(of course it applies to me as well!) immediately when I read an e-devotional this morning, so I C&P’d it for you.
    ================================================
    ” 1 Samuel 15:19 and 24 provide us with real insight into an area of anxiety for many people. One that may control your life today.

    This is Samuel talking to Saul,

    “Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?”

    Saul gives his answer in verse 24,

    Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”

    Hmmm! “I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Saul confessed that he was worried about what other people thought of him and what other people would say about him. As a result, he made a horrible decision that was counter to what God wanted.

    Too many people, even good Christians, are eaten up with worry over what other people think and say about them. Let me tell you, the worst place to have your peace is in somebody else’s head. As Proverbs 29:25 says, The fear of man brings a snare.

    Saul is a perfect example. He never fulfilled his destiny, he never fulfilled his purpose in life, because he was too worried about what people thought about him even though God chose him to be king.
    Someone wisely said this:
    “It is not what I think I am that molds me and drives me, and it is not what you think I am that molds me and drives me. It is what I think that you think I am that molds me and drives me.”
    Is that your concern today? If so, let me give you some advice: Be yourself. You were created by God as an original, and it would be a shame if you died a copy.”
    ==================================================
    Foreverblessed: I agree completely. I KNOW in my heart and mind that spending time with God is the most important and rewarding thing I can do. Yet, sometimes I have to battle with my flesh to turn off the tv or stop whatever else I am engaged in, to go spend time with Him. BUT, as I find myself dropping whatever I am doing for increased quality time with Him that TIME seems to slow down and I get more done than I would have, had I not chosen to put the Lord first. Just a few days ago I was thinking of the same analogy of husband and wife…and one or the other prioritizing others and/or other activities as more important than each other. I think of how God must feel when we do that to Him. The more time I spend with Him the more special time I WANT to spend with Him. Thank you Forever… I know you have been saying that all along and doing so is more rewarding than I can express in words.

  61. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… I almost agree whole heartedly with your thoughts accept for this, I do not think we can properly apply the Laws of Physics, eqally or properly to the emotional, spiritual, physical needs of our society when applied as a sceince we can prove.
    Our law must be built on faith.

    In nature only, does this law find its physical boundries, where for every action, there is an equal and opposing action.

    Unfortunately,that would mean if we did show someone a random act of kindness, than an act of evil would somehow befall them.

    So to me, that particular law can not be the motivating force upon which we show others any goodness, love, or compassion, because then we would first have to inflict evil to bring it about.

    Perhaps my pondering has now messed with your gift here, but I do agree with applying the hug, the smile, and the loving hand, and bringing our gifted light to those who we encounter in our walk of life, knowing our Lord has given us the ability to act beyond our own strength and then we can Praise Him for it!
    Pagans, who apparently feel they have no need for God, can also give a helping hand, a warm smile, and a piece of bread to the hungry, but can they bring them, or share with them what we all mankind needs most, the Light of the World, which they do not believe in themselves?
    Only those who possess this gift, can actually share it with others, and that is what we are all commanded to do.
    I believe God gives us the strength and He also opens the door for us to share our faith, and that is so much more than filling any temporal need.
    Just pondering my brother… Gary

  62. oneg2dblu says:

    narrowpathseeker… great post with much good advice,
    spend more time with the Lord. It is the only way to know him more and hear his voice more, and know who’s voice it is.

    The whole “just be yourself” thing, that is another thing I have trouble with.
    To me, striving to be more Christ-like and asking the Lord to give you the strength to do so is a much better endeavor.

    Where did you find, “be yourself,” in the scriptures?

    Being myself seems misdirected to me though… suppose I only desire the things of the world, should I then just be myself?

    I do not believe anyone can pull themselves up by their own boot strings.

    Just a thought…

  63. poohpity says:

    The example of every person mentioned in the Bible showed us to be ourselves and be “honest” about our feelings, thoughts, struggles, suffering, joys and peace. If we are not to be ourselves then who should we be? That is totally ludicrous to think for a moment we are to be something other than ourselves. I guess those who have trouble with honesty would have trouble being themselves.

  64. poohpity says:

    Only when we are honest which produces humility can God have something to work with. To be something we are not is not only lying but hypocritical.

  65. SFDBWV says:

    Narrowpathseeker, Matthew says thank you and that yesterday he had his January weigh in and lost another 6 pounds and is now down to 298.4 pounds and has lost 106.6 pounds.

    AmazedbyHis grace I don’t often have time at the computer but after reading that you had written a song titled “Bullseye” I went looking to see who the writer of the song was and got lost. Found plenty of people who sing it and even the words of it, but since my time was limited I gave up trying to see who wrote it. It is a beautiful testimony.

    One of the truths of life are that all of us have suffering and that to each on of us that suffering is unique to our situation and that no ones suffering is more than or above that of another. It still is suffering.

    I pray you success in your efforts and endeavors as God directs your path.

    Cherielyn, as always my heart breaks with yours over your son’s troubles, trusting God in such pain as you feel is not easy nor is it given to anyone except you, for God has given to you that which you need in order to endure. How I pray all of the Mikes in the world were healed, but God has not seen it fit to anoint me with such power, so along with you, I trust God, especially when I don’t understand.

    Just remember Gary that for all who suffer now, there is a blessing coming which far out matches and cancels out all the pain and unhappiness experienced now for a greater existence we can not even imagine. In proportion.

    Steve

  66. narrowpathseeker says:

    Hi Gary, the “be yourself” was part of the email devotional that I copied and pasted here. I believe it was merely trying to convey to “be the unique individual self that God created each of us to be” and not to be guided by what others think or say about us, but rather be guided by God’s Directives for us.

    I understand your concern about “be yourself”. :-)..Just last night I was reading Luke 11 when I realized that Jesus was talking directly to the disciples after He taught them the Lord’s prayer. In verse 13 He said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” By that I would guess that being “our fleshly selves” is not the way to go…:-). I know there are many times when I have failed much in the course of a day, that I feel like I am “evil”…and I have come to believe that “deliver us from evil” might mean to deliver us from ourselves….so NO, I have never found anything like, “be yourself” in scripture. However, I just looked in the concordance and there are many scriptures in the old and new testament with the word “yourselves”. I guess you could check them out, but I think “be yourself” probably means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

  67. narrowpathseeker says:

    Steve, please tell Matthew that losing 106 pounds is an INCREDIBLE accomplishment!! Tomorrow, I WALK despite the weather! I will keep the image of Matthew losing all that weight and I WILL lose this blubber! I couldn’t GAIN weight when I had young children! I looked like Olive Oil, now I look like Bruto(was that the name of Popeye’s competition)? …anyway ..the big guy!! :-) Keep up the good work Matthew. I think you are a very admirable young man.

  68. narrowpathseeker says:

    Poohpity, I think maybe the phrase “be yourself” may mean different things to different people. :-) I think in the instance that it was used in that devotional meant to be the SELF we are in Jesus and not our sin based SELF.

  69. isaiah43123 says:

    “…what do you think it takes to make this story believable and meaningful to ourselves and others?” My response to the suffering and loss should make the difference. Does it? No, not all the time. Sometimes I REACT vs RESPOND. I can relate to His Sparrow; I too work in healthcare and believe there is one hope we can give, they may forget but God does not forget about them.

  70. poohpity says:

    We can only be who we are. Whether we are allowing the Spirit to have more control over us than our fleshly desires that is something all together different. That has nothing to do with being yourself. Trusting God does not mean you give up being yourself it means you are able to be more of who you are (being real) when you do not have to put on masks. (Luke 18:13-14 NLT) It seems in the bible those who were trying to be something other than their true self were the religious leaders. (Luke 18:11-12 NLT)

  71. oneg2dblu says:

    Pooh… sorry you are still holding me accountable as not being honest or being a liar, but that is just you being yourself!

    Be yourself, be who you are?

    To me, the word of God does not ever want us to remain as we were, or just being us, being ourselves.

    Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”

    Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve
    what God’s will is- his good and perfect will.”

    1 Peter 13,14,15,16 “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
    As obedient children, do not conform to evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

    1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

    I may be a dishonest liar in your eyes, but I do not see God telling me or any others gathered here, or in his word, to just be yourself.

    Maybe he has said that to Satan and his minions though, who God seems to allow roaming about the earth today doing whatever they want!

    Be yourself?

    I think not!

    That would be serving only our self-pride and not God, or serving evil in its purest form, pride.

    Things like always judging others, holding accounts and being unforgiving, those are the very things that seem to me, to represent only our selfish desires, or just us being ourselves.

    IMHO

  72. kingdomkid7 says:

    I just remembered another book that seems related to our topic of trying to understand suffering a little better. It’s “Let’s Roll,” by Lisa Beamer. Lisa Beamer’s husband, Todd Beamer, was one of the heroes on Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, PA on 9/11. Lisa had small children and had to grieve the loss of her husband before the whole country. She bravely took a coss-country flight at a time when we were all still a bit shaky about getting back on airplanes. Her book actually helped to lift my spirits when my mom was senselessly killed, and I was trying to cope. One of the scriptures that Lisa said she held onto (as she and Todd were both believers) was 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where the Apostle Paul gave assurance to the Thessalonian believers that those who had already died would not miss the return of our Lord. He uses the language (in the KJV )that he “would not have [them] to be ignorant. . . concerning them which are asleep, that [they] sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
    So the advice is to remember Jesus, our hope. That is what Lisa Beamer did, and … eventually … that is what I did too. That word gave me hope because I realized that I knew exactly where my mother was and it was really not a cause for grief, if I really thought about it. Further down, Verse 18 says: “wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
    Those words really do comfort. But I suppose it depends on whether we want to elevate our feelings or the word of God at any given time.

  73. s2inkzoo says:

    Kindomkid’s point of having hope in Jesus and the promise of heaven really hits home for me. I think we do fall short of understanding everything God does (way short). And part of this is not understanding the concept of eternity, and what is at stake. I remember when my kids were small, and the first time my wife or I left them. It was only for an hour, but they were heart broke and verbalized their pain with great vigor. Yet, after a while, the began trusting us that we would come back. Also, they started understanding what an hour was, and what a day was. If we said a trip would take an hour, they understood. I think we have that limited grasp of what eternity is. God does start to help us understand a little better as we get older, and we begin to see the days seem to shrink. Soon, the days and years seem to go faster. But, our grasp still falls short (I Corr 13:12)

    We accept an inoculation because we know the pain will be short lived, and that there is a greater pain and suffering that we will avoid. An Olympic athlete gives up years of pain and trials to reach what they aspire to be a greater goal (and to them it is often not viewed as suffering). I think that as our grasp of eternity falls short, our grasp of what is at stake falls short – an eternity away from God, and and eternity in hell.

    As I was contemplating this blog and some of what people were writing, it came to me that pain and suffering came into the world with the fall. I looked this up and notice that God ordained women to suffer through child birth (Genesis 3:16) and there would be “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:18). So, it seems like God put suffering in the world as the result of sin. I don’t think that was as a punishment, but more as a way to keep us from that which hurts us and others spiritually – sin. So as physical pain helps us in keeping our hand off the hot stove, suffering will help guide us and others away from inflicting spiritual pain caused by sin. I don’t think it is always about keeping us from sin. It is also about driving us towards God. And I don’t think it is always about us. It is about driving others towards God too.

    As bubbles commented, for those like Matt, the people His Sparrow works with, or others in pain, this is little comfort. But, God does walk with each of them through their suffering. And I think he put each of us here to do the same.

    stu

  74. oneg2dblu says:

    narrowpathseeker… thank you for your understanding and sharing what being yourself could mean to others.
    I guess we could say, we are who we are, but we should also know this, we can change and God is willing to help us.
    Gary

  75. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… yes, our great hope awaits us who keep the faith.
    Speaking of weight loss, congratulations to Matt.
    We can be who we are and remain that way, or we can change things for the better and then be better able to see the victory in that change.
    We have a pastor who lost so much weight that others would not even recognize him at first. When they ask how he did it, he is always surprised to see how disappointed so many are to hear it was diet and exercise.
    Like the rich young ruler they walk away downcast wishing they didn’t have to “do the work” of giving up the things they falsely hold so dear.
    It is our nature that makes us so reluctant to change, as we always want things our way.
    Go figure… Gary

  76. poohpity says:

    Gary as per your Jan 19, 2013 10:27pm comment I was neither holding you accountable or calling you a liar. I was talking about being honest about who we are “being yourself” the person you are, not saying that God will not change our behaviors. No body can be Gary, unless it is Gary. You are unique and God does not want you to be Steve, Mart, Peter, John the Baptist or anyone else, just be you. That is what I was trying to say about being honest about who you are.

  77. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… I’m sorry I mis-read your comment. It was partly because of a recent accusation you made saying it would be nice if I were honest, and the story I told didn’t change everytime I told it.
    Now, I’m thinking that when my pastor asked someone to stop clapping because it was drawing attention to herself, she was just probably being herself.
    So, that is how it all tied together for me,this honesty and this just being yourself.
    You may be the same person you were since your first salvation moment, but I know that God has changed so many things in me, that I am not that same person anymore, because now I’m His, and forever changed.
    I’ve been pruned some, and now produce fruit that only He can bring about.
    The world says to its followers, be yourself, be all you can be, you alone can do it.
    God says to me through His word, be mine, and I’ll send you a helper so that ou can be.
    You are right that God does not want me to be Steve, Mart, Peter, John the Baptist, but he does want me to be more Christ-like, and that means I must change into being something more than just myself. Gary

  78. narrowpathseeker says:

    Stu: I think you made a very important point. Scripture does tell us many times in many different verses that there will be much suffering of various kinds. Howbeit, I don’t suffer well and I don’t take the suffering of others well either…especially that of those close to me.

    However, I know people who have suffered things so horrible that I couldn’t imagine enduring it. Yet, one woman who lost all 3 of her children from a motorcycle accident(one at a time at the age of 34!!), one teenage granddaughter was murdered, and one great grandchild is profoundly disabled(can’t not speak or walk) and if you didn’t know what she has been through you would think she had a wonderful life. She is now 91, JOYFULLY takes care of her great grandson and is loving, kind, and one of the most pleasant women I have ever met.

    Another woman who is a very close friend and much the same as this one has lost two children…and again you would never know she had ever gone through such suffering. One child was a schizophrenic and that alone dealt her many years of much trouble and heartache.

    Both of these women are Catholic and believe in God, but neither of them seem to talk much about their faith, but it seems quite apparent to me that they have it.

    Sorry, I don’t know even know what point I am trying to make…I guess I am just wondering how some suffer so admirably and some of us(ME) do not suffer well.

  79. poohpity says:

    narrow, I do not think it means to suffer well. Look at the Psalms David did not suffer well but he did share with God how he honestly felt. His depression was so severe his said his heart felt like wax Psalm 22:24 for just one example. I do not believe we are not to share our sorrow, pain, grief and suffering but it is a knowing that afterwards there will be a peace that God understands because Jesus experienced our suffering and has gone before us to be our High Priest to listen and understand and to bring us comfort in our suffering. Job, Jeremiah and many others suffered greatly and they shared how they felt with God through it all and bring us a very good example to not hide our feelings and if one can suffer well I have yet to see them it just may be that they have had very good comforters as friends who stood with them through it.

  80. poohpity says:

    ooops that was Psalm 22:14 NIV

  81. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pooh, you may be right but I know I wasn’t one of the “good comforters”. As I recall with one is that in my attempt and desire to comfort her, she more or less ended up comforting ME and wiping my tears!!!!

  82. poohpity says:

    I was not talking about you being a comforter but a sufferer. I was trying to encourage you that there are many who do not do suffering well.

  83. narrowpathseeker says:

    Yes, I realize that and I thank you. I was just commenting that this woman was MY comforter at a time when I should have been comforting her.

  84. phpatato says:

    Was catching up on the last half of the posts……

    It tells a lot about a person who has so much compassion and empathy for someone else’s plight that they themselves start to cry. Narrow, you have a tender heart!

  85. phpatato says:

    Cherielyn

    Please know that I will remember you and your son Mike in my prayers. Trust God. He WILL see you through this!

  86. cherielyn says:

    Thank you, each one of you, for your words of comfort, thoughts & prayers. I really appreciate it and I thank God for each of you!

    Mike was in respite care at an Adult Family Home for 14 days & came back to my home today. He will be going back there, on a permanent basis, on Feb 1st. We haven’t told him a specific date – just that he will have to go. He keeps begging to go back to his apartment, but it’s not possible due to safety issues. If it were a warmer time of the year, we might have been able to safely stretch it a few months longer, but there is too much danger if he would wander out into the cold, during the night, and end up freezing to death.

    I thank God for every remembrance of you. I know there is a verse to that effect, but it’s bedtime & I’m too tired to look it up.

  87. foreverblessed says:

    Phpatato, yes Narrow has a very tender heart, it is so lovely when we can feel with the suffering of others, that must be one of the reasons we also suffer. But what Narrow wants to say is what I feel deep down too: am I good in suffering. Am I thnaking God IN all circumstances, am I trusting Him that He holds it in His hands.
    The todays devotion of God calling by twolisteners writes it like this:
    –Januari 22 Gray Days

    You must say ‘Thank You’ on the grayest days.

    Be not afraid. I am your God, your Deliverer. From all evil, I will deliver you. Trust Me. Fear not.

    Never forget your “Thank you.” Do you not see it is a lesson? You MUST say “Thank You” on the grayest days. You MUST do it. All cannot be light unless you do. There is gray-day practice. It is absolutely necessary.

    My death upon the Cross was not only necessary to save a world, it was necessary if only to train My disciples. It was all a part of their training: My entering Jerusalem in triumph; My washing the disciples’ feet; My sorrow-time in Gethsemane; My being despised, judged, crucified, buried. Every step was necessary to their development – and so with you.

    If a gray day is not one of thankfulness, the lesson has to be repeated until it is. Not to everyone is it so. But only to those who ask to serve Me well, and to do much for Me. A great work requires a great and careful training.

    “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy
    God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold
    thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” – Isaiah 41:10–

  88. narrowpathseeker says:

    Pat and Forever, thank you. I do have a tender heart, but unfortunately, it is not a true reflection of my character. It is an inherent quality that has survived all the ugliness I let take root there. Tears come almost as natural to me as breathing. I cry when I am happy, sad, and when others are happy or sad. I have often cried during worship service. The good news is that the Lord is uprooting that ugliness and the more time I spend with Him the less bad seeds get back in to take root all over again.

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