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Archive for the tag “suffering”

My lament

I’m at times angry, at times sad. More than anything, I’m frustrated and tired. I’m tired of certainty without verification. I’m frustrated by lack of sympathy/empathy for others’ points of view. I’m exhausted by some people’s felt need to immediately respond with skepticism to every current event, especially if the event goes against their own desires. I’m sick of denial. I’m worn thin by large swaths of the population being painted with the same brush.

I started to write something a few days ago, but I couldn’t find the words I wanted so I’m trying again.

I’m not sure my words matter, surely in the grand scheme of things they don’t, but it helps me to get my thoughts down sometimes when they just keep rolling around in my head. When those thoughts keep coming as soon as I’m not distracted by other things, it seems best to start writing with the hope that they’ll help someone else in one way or another.

I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to current events than I typically do recently. It started with COVID-19 & has continued through Ahmaud Arbery & George Floyd.

I still can’t handle watching or reading a lot of news. Gone are the days in which you could consider two or three news sources & be able to gain some reasonable idea of what the truth might be.

And that frustrates me.

I watch a little bit of news. I read a few articles. I read individual’s social media posts. I see how entrenched people are with what they choose to believe.

And that tires me.

I see those that think inconvenience equals a loss of liberty. I see that many think that freedom means following whatever path your heart desires. I see people who think their political candidate can do no wrong. I see people who think their opposing political candidate can do no right. I see a black kid gunned down by civilians. I see a black man murdered because a man, whose charge is to serve and protect, knelt on his neck until the man died, despite being told he couldn’t breathe, despite being told by bystanders that the man was in distress, despite three others that could help keep him under control IF he was resistant being present. I see bystanders unwilling to stop an obvious wrong (I assume) because of fear that if they did, their own lives might be forfeit (& I’m not at all saying I would do differently).

And that grieves me.

I want to weep with those who weep, but I worry that friends won’t understand & will think that I’m just falling for the mainstream media’s lies. I want to point out reasonable questions, but I’m afraid other friends will think I’m just deflecting from what’s really going on. I want to consider the background that other people are coming from, but I’m afraid that I’ll be met with the same old talking points. I want others to understand the background that I come from, but I’m afraid my own perspective will be considered irrelevant.

And that breaks my heart.

I see the hurt & the evil in this world. I see the obvious fallenness of this world. I see the depravity visible in each one of us.

And I feel powerless against it.

And I am.

I see the beauty of Creation even in the midst of destruction. I know the Hope that each person could have even in the midst of despair. I understand the Peace that is available even in the midst of strife.

And I feel like I can’t articulate properly.

At least not audibly, orally, face-to-face.

I pray for an end to this virus & a return to normal daily interactions. I pray that truth comes out & justice is served. I pray that there is some sense of healing in this country. I pray that Christians would represent their Name well. I pray that the victims, the murderers, the sick, the healthy, the cops, the protestors, the good actors, the bad actors, & everyone else would recognize these things:

  • God is real & created this world (there is no other reasonable explanation for this existence), and as such he has a right to dictate what is required of His creation.
  • Mankind has rejected God’s rule over him & pretends he is autonomous (sin). This is an offense to God & deserves punishment. (Since it is an offense against an eternal God, it is worthy of eternal punishment)
  • Jesus Christ, as both fully God & fully man, fulfilled God’s law (His requirements for man) & took on the punishment we all deserve making the way for our reconciliation to our Creator.
  • We have only to respond to His offer of forgiveness by confessing to Him that we have sinned against Him & believe in Jesus (that He is who He says he is & that He did what the Bible says He did & that He is able to save us from our condemnation) in order to have our sins forgiven, be reconciled to God, & have the hope of a new Heaven & a new Earth in the very presence of our Creator in which all things will be made new & we will have no more of the sadness, strife, & evil present in this life we now live.

We should stand against wrongs. We should desire justice. We should seek mercy. We should want equitable laws & regulations that protect the most vulnerable. We should ask that the powerful not get special treatment–especially when they do wrong. We should call out hypocrisy (especially & firstly in our own lives). We should demonstrate love toward one another & seek good for one another.

But we should also recognize that humanity is born in sin & there will be no lasting peace until Christ returns. If we love Christ, we should yearn for that Day. If we are opposed to Him, we should dread that Day.

Oh God! Be merciful to us. Open the eyes of blind. Let them see your love. Use this time of upheaval to draw your people out of the darkness of their sin & into the light of Truth. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your grace. May those that already know you, love well & live lives consistent with the love, mercy, & grace that You have shown them.

Amen.

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

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)

Lots & Lots & Lots O’ Links

So I haven’t had much time to post anything on here for a few weeks, but I’ve still been collecting links to things I find interesting, important, &/or edifying. So here’s a whole slew of things I’ve come across…

A little on the gay marriage debate to start with:

A thought on the homosexual marriage debate – Reformation21 Blog.–It is important to keep in mind Romans 1:18-32 when thinking about or discussing homosexual marriage. Let those verses influence your perspective on the subject.

Carl Trueman also has a little blurb on this subject–Around and About – Reformation21 Blog.

Along those same lines Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason Blog asks  Is Homosexuality the Worst Sin of All?. He makes several good points, not the least of which is

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 places homosexuals among other sinners like thieves, drunks, swindlers, and fornicators. And 1 Timothy 1:8-11 lists them among liars, rebels, slave traders, and other sinners. There’s no special designation for any of these sins

Going Down? Dawkins, Doubters & Debauchery–The problem with holding staunchly to an atheist world-view is that eventually that world-view breaks down & you cannot defend your position.

The Name–We cannot make God’s name greater; it is already great.

Read more…

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