>The garbage that is most-often preached on “Christian” television…the idiocy of “Jesus died to make you healthy/wealthy/prosperous” is incredibly destructive. The idea that suffering is the absolute result of sin and/or lack of faith is a cancer that continues to spread, sadly, not only throughout America, but throughout the world. (Much of the proclaimed “gospel surge” in Africa, for instance, is the false gospel of health/wealth/prosperity).
The proponents of this garbage have to Thomas Jefferson (Remember, this founding father went thru the scripture and cut out everything he didn’t like) 1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Here’s a quote from John Stott’s farewell book (that I highly recommend) bringing sane clarity to the subject:
“Christlikeness and the mystery of suffering. Of course suffering is a huge subject in itself, and there are many ways in which Christians try to understand it. But one stands out, and that is that suffering is part of God’s process of making us like Christ. Whether it is a disappointment or a frustration, we need to try to see it in the light of Romans 8:28-29: according to Romans 8:28, God is always working for the good purpose of His people, and according to Romans 8:29, this good purpose is to make us like Christ.”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0830838473&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
“It is clear from Scripture that suffering is a significant thread that runs through the story of God’s people. In Jesus and because of his resurrection, the saints long for the time when ‘there will be no more death or mourning or crying of pain’ and God ‘will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Rev. 21:4). But meanwhile, believers suffer as people united to the Savior, who endured suffering prior to his glory.”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1935273124&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
– Michael R. Emlet
>Another winner from MARK BATTERSON
When it comes to suffering I think we tend to focus on cause instead of effect. We want to know why. And that is normal and natural. Nothing wrong with wanting to know why bad things happen, but that isn’t the primary issue. The primary issue is effect. Why it happened is less important than who you are becoming as a result? You can get bitter or better. It can make you stronger or weaker. And that is up to you.
In a sense, you are not responsible for suffering but you are responsible. Let me explain what I mean. You may not have caused it, but you are response-able. You have the ability to choose your response.
Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, said it this way in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms–to chose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
Honestly, I think the reason why so many of us have such a problem with suffering is that we’re more concerned with our comfort than God’s glory. Suffering is all about sanctification and glorification. If I am sanctified and God is glorified then the suffering is redeemed. God uses a bad thing to produce a good thing in us. That doesn’t ease the pain or lessen the sorrow or stop the bleeding, but it does redeem it. There is spiritual gain through the pain. If our goal is to become like Christ and glorify God, we will experience some suffering along the way. A relationship with Christ is not an immunity card. But we have a High Priest who identifies with our suffering and through our suffering we identify with Christ.
A couple years ago I read a great book by Alistair Begg, The Hand of God, which seeks to demonstrate God’s sovereignty throughout the life of Joseph.
The book tells the partial story of Dr. Helen Roseveare (photo) who served in the Belgian Congo during the horrific uprising in the mid-1960s that resulted in dozens of missionaries being brutalized and murdered.
Roseveare was in the middle of all this chaos; saw friends shot and dropped into mass graves, and was a victim of brutalization beyond belief.
In a letter to Alistair Begg, Dr. Roseveare declared, “The phrase God gave me years ago, during the 1964 rebellion in the congo, in the night of my own greatest need, was this: ‘Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?'”
Ponder that for a while. How often have we heard, or said, “Well, I sure don’t get this, but I’m sure God will tell me why I’m going through this situation….”
The question Dr. Roseveare heard from God echoes in my heart, and I pray continues to bounce around my heart and mind…”Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience, even if I never tell you why?”
>C. John Miller:
I have found that there is nothing like testings of the soul to drive me to Christ and break my pride. Samuel Rutherford says, “Pride rots in winter,” indicating that we must have much need of humbling to rot away our proud self-dependence.” In, The Heart of a Servant Leader, page 213.
>Ah, the life of the follower of Christ is not always rosy or about living “your best life now.” “In this world you will have tribulation” says the Lord. Alas, all too often I whine like Lucy:
>Speaking at camp these last three weeks, I’ve only got glimpses of the story; the tragic and ongoing tragic, of the governor of South Carolina. Al Mohler diagnoses accurately:
Al Mohler on the Gov. Sanford situation:
Put simply, Governor Sanford’s most recent comments point to a worst-case scenario. His words make clear that his heart is still inclined toward his mistress, and not his wife. With tragic candor, the governor has spoken of trying to fall back in love with his wife. He refers to his mistress, not his wife, as his soul mate, and speaks wistfully of the affair as “a love story at the end of the day.”
Governor Sanford may cite King David, and he may even suffer the illusion that his response is similar to that of Israel’s King. Nevertheless, the difference is clear. David’s adultery was mixed even with murder, but his own acknowledgment of sin came in a flood of contrition, remorse, broken heartedness, and humility. David acknowledged the reality of his sin, expressed his hatred of the sin, and became a model for us all of repentance. Governor Sanford, on the other hand, demonstrates the audacity to speak wistfully of his sin, longingly of his lover, and romantically of his descent into unfaithfulness.
Governor Sanford is no King David, and the people of South Carolina — as well as the watching world — now observe the sad spectacle of a man who, while admitting to wrongdoing, shows no genuine repentance. As the Christian church has long recognized, true repentance is reflected in the “detestation of sin.” This is a far cry from what we’ve heard from Governor Sanford.
If the governor is really serious about demonstrating character to his four sons, he should resign his office and give himself unreservedly to his wife and family. He must show his sons — and all who have eyes to see — how a man is led by the grace and mercy of God to hate his sin, rather than to love it. Until then, the governor must be understood to indulge himself in wistfulness for his affair and in a desperate determination to maintain his office. His remaining days in office are like a Greek tragedy unfolding into farce. The whole picture is just unspeakably sad.
An antique song has a lyric that says, “If it wasn’t for our problem, we wouldn’t know that God could solve them.”
Charles Spurgeon explains:
I believe the hard heartest, most cross grained and most unloving Christians in all the world are those who have not had much trouble in their life. And those that are the most sympathizing, loving and Christlike are generally those who have the most affliction.
“The worse thing that can happen to any of us is to have a path made too smooth.
One of the greatest blessings the Lord ever gave us was a cross.”
Attributed to a young rabbi:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Reminds me of one of my favorite quotations:
“Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future.
Faith is having the courage to dance to it today.”
– Dr. Peter Kuzmic, theologian, Slovenian-born, citizen of Croatia
The CHRISTmas season can be really tough on a lot of people, especially those who feel lonely, or who have lost a loved one recently. Perhaps the quotes will minister grace to those who need a touch from heaven.
Televangelists and others beat people up by saying they are sick because of sin in their lives, or because of lack of faith. This may be the case, but the Spirit of God will make that clear to the afflicted one; they don’t need some dude in an expensive suit to tell them…
But just a reminder from the Word of God: (1 Peter 5.19) “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
Suffering is part of living, with or without Christ. With Christ, He walks through it with us, and enables us to “consider it all joy.” With Christ, it all “works together for good.” With Christ we know suffering is temporary, and we look with great anticipation and hope to heaven.
And with Christ we don’t simply endure, but we continue “doing good” even as we suffer.
The extreme name-it-claim-it-blab-it-grab-it-your-best-life-now types have to clip 1 Peter 5.19 (and other verses) out of their Bibles. And they must, to be consistent, click their tongues and shake their heads at all the apostles (and Paul) who suffered and died because of their faith.
Don’t misread – God can, and does, still heal.
But one reason they are called miracles is because they don’t happen often!