This week has been a challenging one. Some of you know that I am in the graduate program at Liberty University studying Christian Apologetics. Graduate school has it challenges with the amount of reading and writing required, but sometimes it can be quite difficult when asked to give personal reflections. This week’s assignment was no exception. The class required a personal theodicy of suffering. Why does God allow suffering? What good can come of it, and why aren’t Christians free from the pain and suffering of this world? I decided to share just a small excerpt from the paper here that maybe someone might get the help they need from it.
“Is there purpose in the pain suffered in this life? It is evident that in this life there will be pain and suffering. This pain might be physical or emotional but the effects are the same; suffering hurts. Since Christians hold to the belief that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, it seems hard to grasp why a loving God who could take away all the evil that causes pain and suffering would not do so. It is especially difficult to come to terms when the suffering is personal, rather than just a textbook illustration, or something that is happening to others, rather than self. But this life is full of hardships, difficulties, pain and suffering.”
What we can hold onto is that we might not ever know the purpose for the pain and suffering of life. We just do not have the ability to understand things as God does. We can try to formulate a bunch of reasons, but often we speak before we think. The only thing that we can be sure of is that God loves us unconditionally. He Himself understands our grief and sorrow. It was God the Father who sent Jesus to the cross to suffer on our behalf. It was Jesus who willingly did so, because of His love for us. Such suffering appears unjustifiable, because Jesus had not done anything wrong. Yet, His love for us prompted Him to do the Father’s will, even if it meant undergoing painful physical suffering.We can be reassured that God understands pain and suffering and is with us in it. Although we might not ever know the reasons, we can trust that God knows. We can also trust Him. We don’t always have to know the why’s in life. God comes beside us and comforts us in times of hurt. We do not always feel it. Sometimes it feels like the silence is deafening. We try to have hope, but it is hard to do so. Hope is only hope when it is unseen according to the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:24-25). We hold onto hope for a future in heaven when we will see our loved ones again and the wrongs of life will be made right. However, its important to remember that God has eliminated evil and suffering in the world through Christ. It does,however, remain to be fully implemented when Jesus returns. We live in the midst of victory, yet while the world remains in a chaotic state. The current state contains pain and suffering, sometimes unjustifiable and lacking any comprehensible reason for it. Someday, all this will make sense and will be a distant memory. We will be free of pain and suffering and live forever with God, as He originally intended. In the mean time, we have hope, which is everything. God Bless- Nancy
Decisions. Are you good at making them? I confess that I am not. Decisions can be as simple as choosing a side with your entree, or as time consuming as selecting a mattress, college degree, spouse,home, or job. I mention time consuming because these are the things and people we should choose only after careful consideration, because they are big investments and longer lasting ones than a side of potatoes or fries. But… there are no perfect people or perfect jobs, or even perfect mattresses. If you look for everything to be perfect you’ll probably wind up disappointed. Some times there are not perfect decisions. We might think we’ve found the perfect job, only to realize it wasn’t the right one for us. That happened to me recently. I thought it made sense to take on a new job right after I graduated and I also thought why not pursue my grad school at the same time. It made sense in my mind, but it wasn’t right for me and I soon resigned from my position. I’m still in the process of deciding to keep on course with my graduate degree or stop, but I trust God has a plan and it will work out for my good, which ever decision I make. I might make a mistake, but there is good to be found even in the mistakes.
We are all finite creatures who can and will make mistakes. But we can trust God, who, unlike us, is infinite. He is omniscient. He can use our own failings to grow us and for our good. Romans 8 :28 is a favorite Scripture and for good reason. I believe God can work out all things for our good. He can take our bad decisions and find something good to glean from them. We shouldn’t be afraid to make decisions, but step out in faith and trust in God, and not in ourselves. In the big picture of our lives, God is using all the elements of our lives, the good, the bad, and even the downright ugly, to create in us an image of His Son and fit us for Heaven. Sometimes, I think we are much harder on ourselves than God is when it comes to making decisions and failing. God understands we fall short, but He offers grace to us. He can and will work out all things for our good.
So while I contemplate my next step, I have learned the best thing to do is to pray continually when I have a decision to make and to stay focused on God and His Word. I’ll keep you posted. God Bless-Nancy
Well, it’s that time of year again when many Moms and Dads send their children off to school. Some parents might welcome the peace, quiet and stability of the school year. But, most will admit that first day can be rough. I remember the tears shed when it was time for each of my kids to go to their first day of kindergarten. The tears showed up again as I dropped off the same kids as college freshmen. Life was moving fast and I wanted it to stop! Just for a moment, so I could savor and enjoy their company. Even now my youngest will be going back for his sophomore year of college. I’m sure there will be a tear shed on the three hour drive back home. I remember him in kindergarten, in what seems like a day ago. College graduation will come again too soon and he will be off to live his own life where ever it takes him, like his sister and brother before him. I now find myself going back to kindergarten with my daughter, but this time with her as the teacher! I find myself excited for her and I enjoy helping her shop for classroom supplies.
I wish I could remember how many older women would offer the same advice for me as a young mom” Enjoy them now, because they grow up so fast” It was all the time! I respected their advice, but somehow, I didn’t want to accept that fact. I wanted to hold my kids forever and let life slow down. How about you? Do you ever feel like life is just too much change and growth? Do you ever just want it to slow down? It would be nice, but deep down we know we must accept the fact that it doesn’t slow down. Change is hard. We discussed before over coming fear and trusting God for strength to try new things. But how do we respond when we are forced to change? What then? Life is full of change and much of it is not from our own choosing. Kids grow up, move away, jobs change, friendships change, and people leave us. We cannot avoid life changes. They are scary, but just like facing fears, we can handle and accept life changes with God’s grace. It’s important to look forward in times of change and look for the good in them. Every time one of my kids- I mean adults- leaves to further their education or enter the workforce, I remind myself they are going to fulfill what God has called them to do. Every time there is change of people or places I must leave, I trust God has a good plan and I will meet new people and make new friends. Romans 8:28 is often quoted, but is a very good reminder during times of change: “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes” When we are shaken by change, we must turn to the one who never changes, God. God does not change and neither does His Word, the Bible. We can find comfort from reading the Bible and direction for us to go. Psalm 119: 105 says ” Your word is a lamp for my feat, a light on my path” (NIV) So, when you face change, the best place is to go to God’s Word. Change isn’t easy, but you can do it! Allow yourself to grieve what has been lost, and take comfort from God as He works everything in a wonderful new direction for our good. God Bless- Nancy