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Archive for the tag “God’s sovereignty”

Death comes to us all, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m numb. I don’t know what to think. I feel like I should be feeling more, but I don’t. Not yet, anyway.

At nearly 40 years old, I still don’t expect to lose people around my age. I definitely don’t expect to lose friends I’ve known my whole life. And if it does happen, I expect it to come after a long fight against cancer or some other disease process. I surely don’t expect it to happen suddenly & in a way that looks random from our point of view.

How do you process that kind of break? Especially in these days of social media when you see what’s going on in everybody’s lives so frequently? One moment a life is being lived, posts are being published about that life, & the next…you find out the account will never have another post from that person again. Time will appear to stop at that last published post.

We don’t know our days. We aren’t guaranteed even our next breath. But it’s so hard to live, to really live, in that knowledge. We expect to go to sleep & rise again the next morning. We expect to go about the mundane & not so mundane days of our lives in perpetuity. At least, that’s how I feel most of the time—not consciously, mind you, but practically anyway. Even though I know it’s not true. Even though I recognize that my next heartbeat comes only if the Lord wills.

This life is pointless & death is meaningless if the universe & life are merely random coincidences. If I state the first part of that last sentence without the qualifying clause at the end (“This life is pointless & death is meaningless”), we know on its face, in our guts, that it is a patently false statement. We can suppress that knowledge, but there is a gut reaction to a statement like that which tells us something is wrong with it. When someone we know dies, especially someone we care about, we know life & death are not meaningless. If they were, we wouldn’t ache for the loss we feel; we wouldn’t grieve over that person no longer being here. But we do. We ache because something meaningful is gone from our lives. We grieve over the loss.

There is meaning there. There is meaning in the life as a reflection of the One who created it. And there is meaning in the death because we are reminded that death is not natural, that it is not right, that there is something wrong about people dying.

When death is a drawn out process, we can see the wrongness of it; we can see how disease is unnatural. And we also, many times, get to see how God uses that time to soften hearts, to bring family & friends close, to let people serve one another out of love, to let us see people suffer well which reflects Christ.

But when death is sudden & unexpected? It may seem more unfair because we don’t get the time to say our goodbyes or to process what has happened like we do with terminal illnesses. It hurts. Maybe not more but probably more acutely much of the time.

Life goes on. Sometimes it takes awhile for those closest to the death, but it still eventually goes on. In the meantime, don’t waste the death, the ache, the grief. Use it wisely. Mourn with those who mourn. Serve them (even if it’s just being there). Take the time to think about death & life & what meaning there is in them. Ask yourself the hard questions about this life & about what happens at death. Think about the options & what explains our experience of life on this earth the best. Does it make sense that there is no real meaning to it, that we are just a cosmic accident? Does it make sense that there are a plethora of gods who compete for various aspects of this life & world? Does it make sense that there is a single god who is distant from its creation & impersonal?

Or does is make more sense that there is one God who created all & made it good, but whose creation rebelled against Him resulting in evil touching all aspects of that creation leading to death & destruction? A God who cares for what He has created & takes a personal interest in the lives of His children, who cared so much that He revealed Himself to His creation & went so far as to insert Himself into His own creation to save His chosen ones from destruction?

These are hard things to think about, but they are worthy to be considered. Especially in times like this: when death has come suddenly, unexpectedly; when it has come in a way that seems so unfair to us who are still living; when we can’t help but consider our own mortality.

Think on these things. Dwell on them even as you grieve. Even as you mourn with those who mourn. Even as you love those still living. Even as you serve them.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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God is Ever-Present; ALL Things are Under His Purview

If God is not ultimately in control over even the times of suffering & great tragedy in this life, then He is no real god at all.

We have a tendency, I think, to see God in the “good” outcomes, and yet, we fail to see Him ever-present even in the midst of trials because that is somehow easier for our finite minds to comprehend (at least at a basic level). However, if we think deeply about this, we will see that if God is not ultimately in control of ALL things, then how can we possibly trust Him to be able to save us or to keep the promises that He has made in His Word?

And if we do trust in His promises, then we have hope that one day all the evil of this present world will be gone. One day the world will be made new. One day we will have no sorrow, no suffering, no pain,  & no questions of “Why?” Jesus has secured this hope through his death & resurrection, & the Holy Spirit has sealed that hope in us for those who believe. There is no true hope apart from Christ Jesus; there is only wishful thinking. And wishful thinking is no hope at all.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.(Romans 8:18-25 ESV)

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

The World Is Watching, And They See Our Inconsistencies…Please, for Christ’s Sake & God’s Glory, Represent Him Well

A friend of mine posed this question with his analysis of it on Facebook today:

If God is in charge of everything … and Mitt lost … why are so many Christians angry? It poses a paradox to me. Either you don’t believe that God is in charge, or you don’t like God’s path.

He followed up in the comments with this:

I’m not really saying the original post in a snarky manner either. I just want to reveal the logic flow or thought process of all these angry, vitriolic rants on Facebook from self-professed Christians. Help me understand how these points are reconciled, if they are. Or is it only God’s Will if it abides by your agenda? It just seems strange that so many people who would be celebrating “God’s Will” if a Republican were elected are now spewing venom because things didn’t go their way. Isn’t it still God’s Will? Or does that only apply when they get what they want?

This:

It’s just that the angriest posts I’ve seen come across the feed have been people railing about “nowhere in the Bible is gay marriage okay” and how Obama’s election is sending us straight to Hell and voters should be ashamed. Just real anger. I’m sure there are plenty of non-Christian Romney supporters. I just haven’t seen the specific citation of any sort of ethos in their rants. Mostly they’re railing about specific issues that they disagree with but no explanation as to why. My original post is aimed at a) getting people angrily citing the Bible to think about how they arrived to their anger and/or b) show that thought process out. Kind of like “I’m anti-abortion but pro-capital punishment.” Okay, explain… Both are killing, so how do you arrive at the conclusion that one is okay, the other is not? I’m not attacking anyone or their beliefs. I just want to see how they get from point A to point B, and it’s still consistent with the core belief.

And this:

So my question is kind of like, you say God is driving the bus. It turns left. Now you say the bus is headed to Hell. So if God is driving the bus, then why all the anger? Isn’t God driving and he knows best? But if you’re angry because YOU think you know best, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that you either don’t believe God is driving the bus or you think He doesn’t know what He’s doing? Which goes against the core belief. But you’re still angry.

I should not surprise me (& yet it did) that those outside of Christianity are so readily able to see how little many of us really understand our faith. This Facebook conversation (among other recent events) just solidifies the fact that those of us who are Christians need to dig deep & really strive to understand exactly what it is we believe. We need to take things to their logical conclusions & struggle with the hard things to ensure that we don’t mistakenly misrepresent our Savior & God. Heed the words of the apostle Peter:

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. [emphasis mine]”–1 Peter 3:15-17 (ESV)

For the record, here was my response on the thread (please feel free to respectfully critique it):

It has been said that “The greatest single cause of atheism [or, in my opinion, agnosticism, rejection of Christianity, etc.] in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Your insight above at least somewhat seems to confirm this.

If God is sovereign over all things (& I believe that he is), then even the outcome of this election was not outside of His control. That doesn’t mean Christians can’t have concerns over President Obama’s policies. And it doesn’t mean they can’t be disappointed that he won because of those concerns. But at the end of the day, if you believe in God’s sovereignty, you should accept Romans 13:1 which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Even if you believe President Obama is evil, you should recognize that God has used many evil rulers over the course of history to accomplish His purposes (this is extremely evident through the Old Testament).

Also, rather than spewing hateful words at the President & his supporters, Christians should heed the words of 1 Timothy 2:1-2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, PRAYERS, intercessions, and THANKSGIVINGS be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [emphasis mine]”

I think it is also important that we keep in mind the full text of Romans 13. Do not forget that Paul wrote these words most likely while Rome was under the rule of Nero–not exactly a friend to Christianity!

As Christians in this country, we have a right & responsibility to stand against those things that are wrong, those things that go against God’s word, but we must do it with respect. We have a right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to express that right, especially in an angry & hateful manner. Meditate on Proverbs 13:3, 15:28,&  21:23; and on Ecclesiastes 5:2.

For some wise advice on how to respond to the outcome of this election, I recommend Christians, Let’s Honor the President by Russell Moore.

A hodgepodge of links.

Divine Sovereignty & Human Responsibility | Challies Dot Com. Something I have struggled mightily over at times in my life.

WTS Books: 50% Off Their 2011 Bestsellers Until January 12 – Justin Taylor. I’ve only personally read 2 of the books pictured here, but I highly recommend both: The Jesus Storybook Bible & The Reason for God

Can Christians Trust the Reformed Theology of a Slave Owner? – Justin Taylor. I think there’s some good practical advice here for all Christians.

The Greatest Need in the Church Today – Justin Taylor.” It is because the vast majority of Christians do not realize how much they have been forgiven that there is so much lethargy in the church today.”

World News: Woman meets child born out of rape, given up for adoption 77 years ago – thestar.com. What an awesome story!

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