The One Thing We Can Know About Why God Allows Suffering (A blog post for the man of sorrows I met at Starbucks)

Why Did God

Return of the Prodigal by E. Murillo

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)

I Met A Man Of Sorrows At Starbucks This Morning

I had an amazing conversation with a thirty-something named Tom at Starbucks this morning. Tom is intelligent, friendly, and he has experienced serious suffering in his life. His soul mate, the woman he is certain he was meant to marry and spend his life with, she betrayed him, she left him, so they never married. Since that time her life has taken a downturn. After a series of relationships with different guys she’s divorced now. Also, a Christian leader Tom looked up to cut him out of his life without explanation. Later I learned Tom was also abused by his father and other family members. And then there’s his addiction: like millions of other men, Tom is addicted to porn. Yes, Tom has suffered, and he continues to suffer. About that, there can be no doubt.

And with many of his tribulations, when he prayed for intervention, no discernable intervention came.

Tom, this blog post is written with you in mind.

Why Did They Betray Me?

First I want to talk about the people who betrayed you. Before I was married I was betrayed by someone I loved too. I’ve never swallowed a burning balled up gas soaked rag, but if I ever did, I’m sure my gut would feel a lot like it did when I was betrayed–except the fire in the rag would extinguish much quicker. Tom you were betrayed by the one you were meant to be with forever, and that has to be painful, and confusing. And then there are the other betrayals in your life. Why would a loving God allow these things to happen? Continue reading

How Can I Trust In God When I’m Seriously Sick Or Injured?

pain and suffering Christian

Oresto, 4, with his father in the special unit for pediatric surgery run by the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) outside Port-au-Prince’s general hospital. He had his hand amputated the night before.

What A Man Suffering From Disease Once Said

I wish I was never born.

I’ve lost all my strength, and my disease has reduced me to skin and bones. I’m estranged from my friends and relatives. My breath is offensive to my wife. Loathsome, that’s what I am. People find me loathsome.

My cries pour out like water. I shout for help, but there is no answer. God has uprooted my hope like a tree. He has kindled His anger against me and considered me as His enemy.

I wish He would just crush me. I wish He would cut me off from the land of the living. I wish I were dead. (Job paraphrased. See Job 3:11, Job chapter 19Job 3:24Job 6:8-9)

Illness And A Crushed Spirit

Before his illness Job was intimate with God and his life reflected that relationship. He was the kind of guy who smiled often. He had the kind of face that lit up a room. He was the kind of guy who loved to help the underdog: orphans, widows, the lame, the blind, and the poor. He liked to rescue the weak from wicked people who would take advantage of their weakness: the Bible says he “broke the jaws” of such wicked men. Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil. And people loved him for it. He was dynamic, he was charismatic, he was popular. And his words were wise, and beautiful, and encouraging: people waited for his words like people waited for the spring rain. He held the honor and respect of the people in his community. And he was rich. (Job 1:1-5, Job 29)

Then, along with other tragedies, his disease came. It was a disease that isolated him from his family and friends. It was a disease that caused him to become emaciated. It was a disease that covered him with painful boils from head to toe.

It was a disease that made him loathsome to the same people who used to love him.

And his countenance changed. This great man of God didn’t smile like he used to. His face didn’t shine like it used to. And his words changed. He said Continue reading

After A 13 Year Old Girl Was Murdered, This Is What Her Parents Did

Pain Suffering Christian

Pain

Pain and Suffering

We’ve been exploring the topic of pain and suffering and one of the worst kinds of pain and suffering is the kind caused by the loss of a child. The following is a quote from Wilma Derkson who lost her daughter at the age of 13. (You can learn more about the Derksens and their remarkable response to their daughter’s murder in this TED Talk video: TEDxManitoba – Wilma Derksen: When Polarity in Forgiveness Happens)

Losing A Child

For six and a half weeks we didn’t know what had happened to Candace. She just disappeared into thin air.  But everyone knows that when a 13-year-old girl goes missing then something is terribly wrong.  She was a child in a woman’s body, that moment of vulnerability when one minute they’re a child and the next a woman.

Eventually Candace’s body was found in a shack not far from our home – her hands and feet had been tied. Someone had forced her there but we lived with the mystery of not knowing who had done this for the next 22 years.

The day her body was found all our friends came to visit bringing warm food with them. There was so much love in the house that it helped us get through.  Then at around 10.30 that evening, when most people had left, there was a knock on the door and this stranger stood there. He told us, “I’m the parent of a murdered child too.” He was saying we now belonged to an exclusive club that no one wants to belong to. We invited him to the kitchen table and for the next two hours he told us in vivid detail everything he’d lost – his health, his relationships, his concentration, his ability to work. He’d even lost all memory of his daughter because now he could only think of the murder, the trauma and the hate that followed. –Wilma Derksen

Losing 10 Children Continue reading

I Love God

God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength -1 Corinthians 1:25 (Photo credit: JulieMenken)

I Love God
by Mark Dachille

I love God – for me to even say something like that seems strange.  What could it possibly mean for me to love God.  Furthermore, I’m no stranger to being angry or even hating God.  I have unanswered questions about suffering and death.  This world hasn’t been nice to me, and I am a very “blessed” person.  When I hear about the suffering of my friends or contemplate the typical life for the poor of this world, where is God?
Today at lunch I was thinking about suffering and injustice.   In a short [lunch] break between the insanity of phone calls and anchor-bolts, steel plates, quick scribble calculations, I somehow found enough stillness to focus on some thoughts from the the 40th chapter of the book of Job.  I didn’t read much, but I read slowly.

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:   “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.   “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?



I thought, “woah, that’s right, I’d be silly to judge God”  The book of Job has a special place in my heart.  This world doesn’t always make sense to me.  But, I love being soft to God – a soft heart is a sort of humility that emanates with trust enough to say, “Ok, God, your ways instead of mine.”  Anyway, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.  I’m also learning that Jesus is my wisdom, understanding, and my righteous.


I’m not sure how I can say, “I love God.”  But it might have something to do with the experience of my ability to say to God, “I want (to want) your ways instead of mine.”

Fearless

News of the tsunami headed for Hawaii today left me concerned about Bob, a friend of mine who lives very near the beach in the Honolulu area. I emailed him and asked if he was OK. I asked how the tsunami was going to effect his life. I’m not sure what I expected for a reply — a rundown on what he’s done to prepare perhaps or an account of how he’s feeling about the imminent event? What I didn’t expect was this photo along with a short message — Bob simply said,

BRING IT!!!! I’m ready

Ya gotta love Bob.

Your Life:

In Job chapter 1 Satan says to God,

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?”

Job 1:9, 10

As Christians we enjoy the same hedge. We can rest in the fact that, like Job, no harm will touch us except that which the Lord allows. Be like Bob (goggles and snorkel optional) — take courage in the knowledge that God is on the throne and in control of your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6