May 282010
 

The other day Madison Bella (Holly) went through a really tough experience that left her raw and frustrated and questioning. I think we’ve all been through those moments; I know that I have in the last year many times. Holly, I hope you don’t mind, but you sparked something in me with your comments that I thought might be worth exploring.

Back in December John Piper spoke at Matt Chandler’s church, shortly after Chandler had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Piper did not explain away the suffering, or the frustration we have, but he did point something out that I have been trying to allow to take root in my thinking.

Holly’s response to the loss of her dog, after many losses of other people and animals in her life, was to exclaim the pain and the frustration of these losses. I’ve had the same reaction (hear me, please, that I’m not coming down on Holly….I’m relating to what she said and at the same time turning my understanding with the pricking of Piper’s teaching.).

Our response is that this is not the way things should be. We are often surprised by suffering, and are uncomfortable with and think it is not how things should be.

The challenge I am sitting with….uncomfortably….is that we do not understand the suffering and pain and decay of creation because we do not understand the severity of sin.

I’ll rephrase that.  I do not understand the severity of sin.

I do not immediately think of the enormous weight of sin when I face suffering. I usually think that the suffering is uncomfortable and how do I get around it.

Piper, in his teaching at Chandler’s church, focused on Romans 8 and how the world has been subjected to frustration in hope.

I have a really hard time getting that truth to sit still in me long enough to absorb.

Creation was subjected to frustration.

In hope.

And “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

I’ve been trying to take this in with the flood. The enormity of the flood, the destruction….is because of sin. Not some bogus judgment, but the mark of sin on creation.

Sin is so severe, so vast, that the suffering we cry out under…and that creation cries out under…is necessary to procure our freedom.

I think I should have an existence that is relatively comfortable and marked by a sense of justice in my interactions.

Instead, Piper has put a seed in my thinking that builds on all the other teachings I’ve heard….that I need to feel and see that it is not God being unfair, but see the severity of the mark of sin on our creation and ourselves.

That the suffering around us, in us and on us is in the end justified in judging sin because sin is so severe. When we do ultimately walk in the glorious freedom and creation is liberated from its bondage to decay….we will see that the price was worth it.

For now, I find that I take my sin remarkably lightly in light of the impact that even my sin has played in the decay of creation and the suffering we walk in.  We are walking in a fallen world, with wonderful life-giving invasions of hope and glory. Still, when loss pains us so deeply that we want to cry out in anger or give up….maybe some of that deep pain is awareness that our sin impacts God this deeply.

I’m still working this out in my thinking and in my heart, and again this is in no way saying that Holly shouldn’t have felt the way she did…..instead it is saying that she should feel precisely that way as we all should when there is suffering that seems without reason. There is a reason, and the weight of the severity of sin should make the Cross all the sweeter and stronger.

  No Responses to “TGIF: Sarah”

  1. Wow!!!

    That’s why this site is one of my favorites!

    Thank You!

    BTW: First!!!

  2. MIchael, I think you are expressing that tension of the kingdom being “already, not yet.”
    We know in part and yet some of what we are experiencing seems to contradict what we “know.”
    Thank you for this post.

  3. I would highly suggest C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Problem of Pain’ for those who want to wrestle with this topic. It is all the more significant since the author (Lewis) was an athiest for years due to this exact point – too much “meaningless” suffering in the world to believe in God, especially the loving God of the Bible.

    Please note – for those walking through the valley NOW, I do NOT suggest you read the book during the height of your grief. Read your Bible….and pray.

  4. Nonnie,

    Sarah wrote this one…and you’re very right.

    The already,not yet unveiling of the Kingdom is at work here.

  5. AV…I need to pull that out, I haven’t read it in a long time. Piper’s thoughts have been coming up in my mind and heart a lot since I heard his sermon in December.

    I just honestly rarely equate the severity of my sin with the severity of suffering. That our sin as whole impacts creation so ferociously….makes me aware that I often take it far too lightly.

    I’m off to sleep for awhile after a killer last week of school for the boys!!! Just wanted to re-iterate…..this is in no way an article saying there is an easy answer, I was just boucing off M*B’s comments the other day as they sparked something I’ve been thinking on. Our questioning will take us in different directions at different times….

  6. Sarah, I would generally agree with your (and Pipers) thesis, but I would add something else. I think both CS Lewis and Phillip Yancey (two of my favorite Christian thinkers) would say that one of the reasons that we think that suffering is unnatural is because it wasn’t for what we were intended. We were intended for perfection. I think this is why suffering seems so wrong, and why your overall hypothesis is probably correct as far as it’s reach is concerned.

  7. Michael…I am at a loss for words on this one.

    Wow.

  8. …or is it Sarah?

  9. Yep…just read the comments…wow, Sarah.

  10. beautiful expressions of Truth here, i hope to hold onto the train of thought that Sarah is developing… poor tired, self justifying mankind needs the absolution of Christ’s finished work on the cross, but are we losing the sense of the ‘wrongness’ of sin in our experience of that forgiveness?

  11. …better stated…wow, Holy Spirit through Sarah.

  12. Bob M,”We were intended for perfection.” and that is the reason for this present war, eh? The end of the war is a perfection beyond what we can grasp. The thing that annoys me these days is that i can’t imagine it. 🙂 what does Scripture say? beyond what we can think or ask [for]? poor eyesight gets tedious

  13. Em- Yeah but this is where 1 Cor 13 gives hope…”Now we see but a poor reflection in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” It’s these kinds of scriptures that help to correct our myopia…. 🙂

  14. “… maybe some of that deep pain is awareness that our sin impacts God this deeply”

    oh my, i am still wiping my morning go juice from my screen after reading these words Sarah. A complete paradigm shift for me

    #6 Bob “one of the reasons that we think that suffering is unnatural is because it wasn’t for what we were intended”

    two examples of why i have read quietly in the wings for many weeks instead of joining in the dialog…so many thoughts to consider and process… ah, but you all provide such a fellowship of authentic believers… i know there are similar peeps around me…they all seem to be camoflaged in ‘good Christian’ attire though 😀

  15. Great thoughts, Sarah. The one statement I’m hesitant on is “Sin is so severe, so vast, that the suffering we cry out under…and that creation cries out under…is necessary to procure our freedom.” That sounds like our suffering is somehow efficacious. I’m not sure that we can really establish that our suffering, or any suffering apart from Jesus’, is necessary.

    It does all make sense to God, but not so much to us.

  16. Bob, worth a little meditation – “love” (it’s verb form – which is its only relevant application, eh?)
    agapao
    1) of persons
    a) to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly
    2) of things
    a) to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

  17. Em this love is that which was ultimately performed, as Dave pointed out, by Jesus Christ.
    I have a friend who posted on facebook an excerpt of the dialogue from “The Elephant Man”.
    For me this a profound illustration of the topic Sarah has chosen to speak about: The effects of sin on Creation (Joseph “John” Merrick’s body), the people around him who used him (The Carnival-Circus men), and those who rejected him.
    But it is also the demonstration of what love can do (as a reflection of Jesus) to alleviate suffering to some degree here on earth while we await the Romans 8 redemption. We love others who are suffering until that redemption is fully realized. In the final scene of the movie we see what true compassion can do to dull the pain from suffering.
    This doesn’t minimize the “sinfulness” of sin, but in facts points to it’s “antidote”.

  18. [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]:
    If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us:
    2 Tim. 2:11-12

  19. I should add that ‘suffer’ in that verse is the word most commonly translated ‘endure’ – not the more usual word for suffer.

  20. Sermons on the severity of sin are sure preludes to a Calvinistic worldview. Nevertheless… very nicely done.

  21. Thanks all for being so kind as we work through our notions….and Holly, thanks for understanding that I was thinking alongside you, not trying to come against your questioning.

    Dread….I don’t consider myself Calvinist completely, but I will allow that I rest more in God’s sovereignty today than I did 10 years ago. On this topic, I guess I’m just trying to grasp something that has been slippery for so long, and is making a little more sense. I don’t think this offers a solution to the problem of pain around us, but for me it shifts the vision from questioning God to being a little more hushed in awareness that I don’t deserve a quaint, peaceful life in this state.

    That said, what Bob is urging is completely true, if we were not created for perfection we would probably be content, or more content. The mark that is on us is that we were created to be image bearers of God and we are discontent in a fallen world.

    And, yes, Dave…I didn’t make that clear enough (always bad to write when over-tired!!!). I honestly do not understand how our suffering makes some impact on Christ’s suffering in a verse like Colossians 1:24. My head starts to explode when I go there.

    What I was trying to point to in this article is not that we somehow participate in our atonement through the suffering we experience, but rather that the decay we experience especially in Creation is a reminder of the magnitude of sin.

    I know intellectually that my sin offends a Holy God.

    I see the flood we just had in Nashville and the devastation….and it makes me pause to wonder that somehow this frustration of Creation is tied to the impact of mankind’s sin and the depth of our fall.

    Still sorting this through and appreciate the pushing back…..not in anyway saying that I’ve got it figured out and laying it all out for ya! 😉

  22. The 39 articles are Reformed theology…the Westminster confession is just a commentary on them…

  23. The Elephant Man – the most memorable line in that whole movie was his cry: “I am not an animal! I am a human being.” – it rings in my ear to this day…
    God so loved the world… (we’re all elephant men in one way or another)

  24. Dread,

    Your equating “severe sin” with Calvinism is a very, very truncated point of view.

    The Reformation was much bigger than John Calvin, as you must know. And the view of sin’s severity predates the Reformation by at least a thousand years. Much more importantly, it’s what Jesus and Paul taught.

    Without a strong view of the severity of sin, including that which dwells in the post-conversion Christian, you wind up with Christians basically treating the Faith like it’s a Law religion, a self-help program to make better people — and often without compassion for those with addictions, etc. who still struggle regularly with sin. They often feel like second-class Christians, left behind on the Victorious Life Trail, instead of realizing that their Suffering Savior is still there with open arms, all the way to the End.

  25. Well done, Lutheran!

  26. Sarah,

    I am with you in that I don’t know completely what it means to share in Christ’s sufferings. And I knew you wouldn’t hold to the view that our suffering has redemptive or atoning value. Just wanted to clarify that point.

    And clearly there is something wrong with this world, and us, and suffering. It doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right, and we intuitively know that. And what’s wrong is certainly sin. I think that Calvinists who lay it all at the feet of God’s sovereign plan, and Arminians and Openness advocates who leave it all on the altar of “human choice” are both well-meaning, in trying to explain the unfathomable, but are perhaps both in error by going beyond what Scripture clearly states. (I am not saying this applies to all Calvinists or all Arminians. Only to those who take those positions and profess to understand it all. I know many on both sides of the division who wisely hold back from these extreme conclusions.)

  27. “I think I should have an existence that is relatively comfortable and marked by a sense of justice in my interactions.

    Instead, Piper has put a seed in my thinking that builds on all the other teachings I’ve heard….that I need to feel and see that it is not God being unfair, but see the severity of the mark of sin on our creation and ourselves.”

    Sarah, Thank you so much for sharing.

    For many of us we pretty much for a season got to live the life of comfort and justice. The comfort wasn’t some type of mediocre Christianity but more of a gift to us from God. You’re living a life seeking to please God and it seems He is rewarding you for your efforts. That thinking, if left unchallenged, will eventually crumble under the reality of life. Quite often that happens as we get older and are allowed to see and experience the consequences of sin you spoke of. For some their world is rocked much sooner and evil visits them via those that should have loved them the most.

    In my life I was the classic example of the person wagging his finger at God and letting Him know He was sleeping on the job. Hard lessons followed.

    Quite often I come across believers who aren’t blaming God for the suffering they find themselves in the midst of. It’s people who find themselves in circumstances they see no way out of. People with severe depression, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.

    They love God deeply and deep down know He doesn’t treat us as a cat that paws around a mouse before devouring it. They often are left to conclude they are hopelessly flawed and for any number of reasons believe God will not bring them the peace they so desperately long for.

    They have accepted their affliction but many times believe if they can’t find peace they will not be able to survive. Quite literally.

    When you shared about the flood I thought about those angels dressed in flesh who went about seeking to provide hope and practical help in times of personal devastation. They did so without becoming Job’s comforters. What a profound gift.

    When one part of the body hurts we all hurt. You bring up things that I believe we’ll only come to understand after this life, although I suspect we won’t be too interested in having our questions answered then!

    There are deep things for all of us to try to get ahold of concerning all of these things. Meanwhile we are part of a body of believers and we all have the opportunity in some way to be God’s hands extended, not finger pointers. In reading of Nancy’s mother’s last days I got to experience that through Nancy’s writings.

  28. Dave….I think I’m coming to a place of thinking more quietly about these things. I was hesitant to post this article because I didn’t want it to come across as a pat answer to the struggle Holly was having. I am much more in a place where I hear a teaching like Piper’s and it takes months for me to let it sink in. I’m not so eager to have it all nailed down, I want to understand things in a different way. If that makes any sense 😉

    Erunner….I think that is something that we miss as believers, and is the underlying frustration in the discussion Michael and Dread are having about the ODM’rs. When I am struck with the understanding that the Fall so effects us in our own world in these moments, I am drawn to reach out to my fellow believers. We should have a sense of being in this struggle together, bound and led by the Spirit.

    That is why when we attack each other it is so grievous. We simply need each other. We live in a fallen world that is difficult….there is great joy mixed in, and as has already been mentioned this understanding of the already / not yet, but still we need to know the companionship of other believers in this journey. To have those who understand the impact of the Fall, the impact of being broken people and the amazing grace of our salvation turn on us……how deeply does that cut in the midst of the struggle.

    For those you have mentioned who cannot see hope. That is the flip side, isn’t it. There is such deep pain and heartache in this life, and yet there is also such wonder and joy. God has not given us over to the full ravages of sin. He has kept His image in us, and He has kept His testimony in creation. Such a balance, and yet there are times it is so difficult to see.

  29. (Sarcasm Alert):

    Michael, you are not only an emergent, anti-discernment, fatalistic apostate…
    ….you are also a pornographer!

    Them people are nekkked!!! Damn you to hell Newnham!!!! 🙂 8)

  30. My thought about suffering is not how or why suffering happens to us as God’s people so much as why, because we are sinful and rebellious sinners redeemed only because of grace, we are not judged and condemned, and, why we have any blessings at all. I think that we should not be surprized by suffering because even we who are Christians are deserving of much worse than we will ever experience in this life, but rather by the blessings we receive, the joy that is our strength, the providence that meets our needs in so many unique ways, and the unconditional love of God and others for us. We are worthy of none of the goodness of God that He pours out in our life…

  31. “John Piper spoke at Matt Chandler’s church, shortly after Chandler had been diagnosed with brain cancer.”

    Did Piper obey the basic tenants of scripture?

    James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

    If not, don’t ask anymore questions liker “Where is the Power?”

    Acts 5:32
    And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

    The lament of the modern Church…”Now,all we can do is pray”

    Maybe it really is “Matt Chandler’s” church….

  32. Chandler has been clear that he has had the elders anoint him and pray.

    I’ve gone through a lot of oil and a lot of praying in my life…

  33. SPQR, In the James passage it seems the onus is on the one who is afflicted to reach out for prayer.

    I have been spending much time with my brother-in-law who has been in a coma for almost three months. Obviously he is unable to ask for prayer yet I know many have come and prayed over him. A few have come and stayed through the night praying over him before slipping out.

    I would have to think many have prayed with Matt already. Should every single person who comes into Matt’s life need to pray over him? How about praying privately? There is power there as well.

  34. Believe,

    🙂

  35. I’ll be honest at a risk. The nudity in the picture for this article makes me uncomfortable. I’ve never been an art aficionado so a few fig leaves would be welcome! Yeah… I’m a prude.

  36. SPQR…have you listened to the sermon or followed any of what is happening with Matt? He has been remarkably transparent through this, has taught some pretty great things on praying while in the midst of a tremendous trial, and has talked about his thankfulness that God has allowed him to suffer.

    http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/resource_files/audio/200912271115FMWC21ASAAA_JohnPiper-SubjectedInHope.mp3

    As far as Piper….I agree that he has prayed for Matt and I would guess he has laid hands on him. In this particular sermon, however, Piper says this:

    “And as I reflected on what I might do that other pastors might be slower to do, it’s this. Since I come from outside and sort of represent the bigger picture of the impact of the ministry of the Village, it might be good for me to bring a bigger picture to bear on the issue of suffering.”

    So his sermon is focused on that. However, the reason I say I know he has prayed for Matt is this:

    “
So let me close with a couple of practical words to you as a church. First of all, pray for
    Matt’s healing. I’m a lover of the sovereignty of God. I believe God rules everything
    and governs everything. I don’t know how I find meaning in the horrors of my life and
    others’ lives if I didn’t believe God had purposes in what He was doing. Some people
    take that to an extreme and say, “So Matt’s got cancer? That’s just that. Que será, será. God is sovereign. Deal with it.” Instead, we should gather together, fast, pray and ask God to take it away. That’s no compromise of the sovereignty of God. Say, “God, heal him!” That’s what I’m praying, and I invite you to pray that way. I told Matt yesterday that I’m going to say that to you. I told him, “I’m going to invite your church now that they should pray for your healing, until you tell them to stop.” And I’m basing that on 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul has the thorn in the flesh. He prays, “God, please take it away. It hurts. The thorns hurt.” He prays again, “Please take it away.” It doesn’t
    happen. “Please take it away.” And Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you. My
    power is made perfect in weakness.” I said, “Matt, when God says that to you, you tell
    your people to stop.” And until then, don’t stop. Also, ask God for enough faith. Matt
    and I believe that there’s such thing as a gift of faith, just as there’s a gift of miracles and
    a gift of healing. These exist, and some of you may have that gift for him. Don’t badger
    him with it, okay? I got cancer one time, and it wasn’t as serious as his and oh man, they
    would come out of the woodwork with how you’re supposed to get well. Don’t do that to
    him. He’s surrounded by wise people who know how to council him. But love him like
    crazy in praying, “God, take it away. Keep him on the planet, ministering in power
    increasingly, with greater humility, through his brokenness, as long as possible”

    Listen to the sermon, listen to some of what Chandler himself has said. If you think he views the church God has given him to serve as “his” you’ve never really listened to him.

  37. PP family…would love to meet more of you.

    I’m on FB now. I’m on Michael’s friends list.

    Thanks,

    Alex

  38. Erunner’s #38 ! now i know i am old – i never even noticed the exposed parts mentioned – at the risk of getting Erunner lumped in with the “old folk,”i have to vote with the runner ….

  39. Amen, Sarah. As I and my family were going through a very rough last six months, an older saint expressed the very thing you have so well conveyed here– sin has devastated the creation. She exhorted me to not question God, but instead, go to HIm for help because He well knows what shape His creation is in, and even in the suffering, He has a plan. Thank you for expressing that so well today.

  40. Read a comment that ties to Sarah’s point, which is really beautiful. Can’t get the quote exactly, but it was like “True worship from this body will always have a note of desperation” and the speaker/writer went on to speak of all creation groaning in “travail”.
    Every time I read the Beatitudes, my heart is filled with a sense of desperation for the face of Jesus. As I read Holly’s post/prayer from the other day, that desire for God really resonated in with my dislike for loss and the cost of sin.
    Great post, Sarah – very encouraging!

  41. I wont go into detail as I respect you folks a great deal. I could only listen to half of Dr. Piper’s sermon, it really bothered me a great deal. I have never hid that I struggle with a literal fall, flood etc. I actually make no absolute claims in these areas, not being able to fully explain my reasons I am reluctant to speculate or even ask questions in this area. I do wish you all a very nice evening.

  42. But I will hope continually. and will praise you yet more and more. Psalm 71:14

  43. What an unbelievable thread, thank you all.

    Erunner, and Em, I am laughing at myself. I had to scroll up to take a look at the picture. I completely skipped over it this morning. Too funny, I guess I get embarrassed, or just don’t have an artistic edge to me. 🙂 Oh…now I get it, I vote for the fig leaf too. 🙂

  44. It’s funny to me that a little nudity in classic art bothers people. I didn’t even notice until someone pointed it out.

    What’s been bothering me all day is that the body on the snake looks like a woman’s. That ain’t right…

    Does it look like that to anyone else or is it just me?

  45. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

  46. James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working

  47. Nancy, how you doing sweet lady? Still keeping you in prayer.

  48. Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
    You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
    Whom have I in heaven but you?
    there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
    for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

  49. don’t rely on how you feel…but what God has promised. He promises to never leave you. It may feel that way but our feelings deceive us….God does not.

  50. London, regarding body parts – in an art gallery, a museum ok. and the picture does represent that moment right before we got ashamed of our parts… 🙂

    “What’s been bothering me all day is that the body on the snake looks like a woman’s. That ain’t right…” a woman’s what? ? ? what am i missing? 😯

  51. now that the picture is gone … wish my comment was too

  52. My intent was in no way to have the picture removed. I trust Sarah completely with her choice of artwork and I apologize that I placed her in an awkward position. I in no way was seeking to create any controversy. I figured I’d leave my thoughts and that would be that. Again, I apologize for any issue(s) I may have created.

  53. Holly….I think that is one of the greatest struggles. I pray often for our pastors in that regard; that they are able to be compassionate and minister to those who are suffering or in mourning without being overcome by the burdens.

    The more that we care or are vulnerable, the more we are open to being overwhelmed by the needs around us. In some ways, I think that is a negative to the internet and our more ‘world’ awareness….there are so many burdens. When we care for those who are in our reach, the burden does not seem as overwhelming. Still difficult, and still painful, but not completely overwhelming.

    I know I keep referring to the flood here, but it has been an enormous impact and learning experience. There are 11000 homes that have been impacted or destroyed. That’s a lot. That’s a little overwhelming. Our church has helped 20 homes. Doesn’t sound like much.

    However, we have focused on two neighborhoods. We have one that is a low-income, rather ignored area. There are still homes there that have not had anyone help with demolition…the mold is staggering already. We’ve been in that neighborhood for three weeks, slowly working through the houses. It does not solve the 11000, but it is something we can do that makes an enormous impact on that street.

    I guess what I am saying is that when I begin to be overwhelmed by the needs of a vast group of people, I focus on what is in front of my hands. What can I do here in the midst to help someone? I can pray for the needs worldwide, and need to do so with conviction, but I can help locally.

    I also think that we need to not push aside joy because others are suffering. We are even commanded to rejoice with those who are rejoicing 😉 Again…there is balance.

  54. Im not surprised by suffering nor do I ask “why me”. I don’t necessarily need to find a reason for it and my faith is constant whether I am suffer or not…For me (so far) suffering is just part of being alive…and just feels like crap

    One wonderful lady said to me the other day attempted in her own way to offer comfort to my situation (cancer) saying “Well at least you’ll go to be with Jesus when you die”. My response was “I hope I’m not coming off as unspiritual but I am not ready to keep that appointment yet”

    Truth is for me, While I know heaven is in my future, Im gonna be dragging my feet all the way–there will be boot marks in the sand all the way to the Pearly Gates 🙂

  55. Em…it’s okay, it’s all Michael’s fault 😉 He picks the graphics 😉 Hehe…like how I passed the buck, there?!

  56. Steve….some people say some rather amazing things in trying to comfort people 😉

  57. Sarah and Erunner, i thot the picture was mostly innocuous – just being a little flippant again – i suspect there’s a vast difference between the depiction of man in his natural state and a living live man on display in the same condition 😉

  58. Holly, FWIW
    i was a picky eater as a child and often heard the phrase, “eat what’s on your plate; think of the poor starving children in Europe!” (WW2 era) and my thinking was: how is my eating these turnips going to help the starving children? enjoy the good things that God has put on your plate, eh?

    praying for the tender hearted in this mean old world…

  59. I have first had experience with suffering. I have a wife who has been suffered for 30 years from MS. My own health is a long list. I have had 8 major surgeries, constant asthma migraines over a dozen kidney stones –

    And I don’t have a lot to say on the subject anymore. I used to have a lot to say, but find myself with little to say except that without suffering I would not be how I am today.

    I know of very few people who got saved in good times in their life. It was almost always during a time of suffering

    I believe that the future of Christianity in America will continue it’s down hill run unless suffering intervenes.

    For me grief and despair and suffering keeps me from being at home in this world. It drives me to look forward to the day he wipes the tears from our eyes.

    It is interesting to me that we will be crying in heaven at least for a time.

    So for me sin and suffering are related. Those who have prosperity and health all their lives probably will not be found in heaven. Those who have suffered much like most of the people on this blog have great compassion for someone who feels grief of the loss of Holly, those who have suffered much have much compassion for all forms of suffering. Those who have suffered little have little compassion. But last night in the midst of another sleepless night due to pain i just wanted it to go away.

    I love CS Lewis The Problem with Pain.

    I think of of the clearest things that has helped me to know and understand the Love of God in suffering, is the thought that when we take a dog into our horse we inflict a degree of pain on them, but in return we elevate them to human status. I had a dog who hated to be bathed he would howl and fight. But without washing him down he would loose his human like privilege. There was no way when I had to chain him between two trees in order to give him a head to tail shampoo, that it directly related to the privilege of laying in front of the fire place on cold nights. A dog is incapable of understanding the relationship of the suffering I put him through to the blessings it qualified him for, just like we in our present state are not able to see the relationship of pain and suffering to the blessing in store for us. I read the words Weight of Glory — and there are many days I would say I don’t want what ever glory is, I just want the pain to stop. But that is only because I don’t understand God’s ways, and I don’t have a clue what the weight of glory is.

    If creation was dragged down by our fall, I have often wondered if in that day those pets we took in will be caught up in our salvation in the same way animal suffering which I find harder to understand than human suffering because I can’t see any good that can possibly come from it, they cannot be improved by it. The only thing I see in animal suffering is it shows us how ugly sin is. But in THAT Day we will understand — Not before. For now we simply can’t connect the dots between suffering and the Goodness of God.

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