Friday, January 22, 2016

Why God, why?

Today my friend lays her 34-year-old son to rest.  The sudden death of a child; what could be more devastating?  At a time like this even the most faithful Believer finds herself questioning and quite possibly even being angry with the God of her heart.

Over the last week, since I received her call about Ben's passing, I have found myself trying to imagine what my friend is going through.  I, too, have a son named Ben.  He is still a teenager, and not a single one of us is safe from a devastating loss such as this.  I honestly cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose a child. Sometimes I think I can. I can picture it strongly enough that I have cried over it, but I know our imaginations cannot really go there until we have actually been there.

Since becoming a Christian I have spent many hours praying to God for the strength to get through just such a situation should I ever be faced with it.  I'm not talking about the strength to remain upright in the days and weeks following a loss of this magnitude, although to be sure I would need that.  I'm talking about the strength to be faithful to my Father. The strength to find His grace and mercy in something so catastrophic to me that it would threaten my relationship and belief in Him as my almighty King and Savior. My belief in a God that loves and protects us.

I believe with all my heart that pain and suffering does not come from God.  God loves His children and walks with us through our time on this earth.  He wants what is best for us, but He also wants us to persevere and lean on Him in a world covered with sin and suffering. Sin and suffering that comes from Satan. He let's us go through the pain of this world so that we will long for Heaven, which is our true home.

When we go through suffering here on this earth we are in good company.  So many of the men and women in the Bible went through incredible suffering as they passed through this earth on their way Home.  Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers.  Job, whose suffering lasted virtually his entire life.  Noah, being isolated from his fellow man, building an arc and then living on it with his family while all living things save the animals and his family on the arc were destroyed. Paul, giving up everything he had on this earth to preach the gospel, spending many years in prison, homeless, hungry, beaten. Mary, watching her beloved son Jesus be persecuted and then brutally and publicly crucified.  Jesus.

These are but a few examples among many.  Why do I bring these up now, at a time of such sorrow and suffering for my friend?  Because as Believers we must continue to trust in God, even when our hearts are broken in a thousand pieces, and we cannot comprehend the unfairness of it all. BEFORE we go through something like this we really do need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that life is going to get really hard and be really unfair. We must not bury our heads in the sand that terrible suffering cannot come to us such that we do not prepare our heads and our hearts for it.  Satan wants nothing more than to take every single person away from God.  He waits for a time such as this to worm his way into our lives and plant seeds of doubt that could eventually destroy our love for God.

If you read your Bible you know that God warns us of this.  He warns us that life on this earth will bring suffering.  When sin entered the world with Adam and Eve so did death and suffering. But, it does not have to be in vain.  God can use our suffering to help us be a light and beacon to others. God uses such things to glorify His Kingdom and bring others back to Him. We are not promised an easy walk here on earth, but we are promised that He will walk faithfully with us, and then bring us Home when the time comes.

I don't want to leave it here but am at a loss for more words.  It is a little after 6am and I have to get ready for work.  In a little over 8 hours from now I will be hugging my friend along with many others as we help her lay her son to rest.  My stomach hurts thinking about it. I can't imagine how she feels right now, but I believe in our Lord's power to heal us.  With all my heart.

If you aren't a Believer and you are reading this, I will be praying that the seeds of longing for our Lord placed in you at your birth to move you enough that you will be stirred.  If you are a Believer who is going through a season of suffering that brings doubt, I will pray that you will be lifted up by others who can fortify your love for God and help you see His loving, merciful hand guiding you through the darkness.  And if you are a child of God who has yet to experience suffering, I rejoice with you that God is so good and pray that you will use this time to gird your faith and your love for Him.  Study God's word. Pray and prepare your heart for the trials and tribulations that will likely come so you can be strong in your love for Him and not give Satan one sliver of an opening into your heart.

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” Ephesians 6:11
“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
"Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." — Luke 22:42

The words from Luke above were spoken by our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Even He called out to God in His suffering.  In the garden of Gesthemane, Jesus got down on His knees and begged God to remove from Him the terrible suffering on the cross that was to come. Jesus knows first hand what we are going through when we face a cross that we believe cannot bear.  Lean on Him, For he understands fully your pain.

Our suffering can bring us closer to God, if we let it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Marco Rubio- take 1

How many Republicans/Conservatives reading this think that maybe Marco Rubio could be your candidate? I'll admit, I find him to have debated extremely well, he is very well spoken, and I would put him above Trump but below Cruz on my list right now.

That said, this "gang of eight" amnesty bill keeps coming up, as do comments about his inconsistent record, so I thought I'd do some checking since I don't know anything about it (the bill). If you are curious here is an article for you. The following is quoted from the article and really sums it up:

"Put another way, if Marco Rubio becomes the President of the United States, the future of our republic depends on Rubio telling the truth this time after he already lied about the same thing to people who walked over broken glass to get him elected.
So now, are you ready to walk over broken glass to get Marco Rubio elected? Choose wisely because if Rubio becomes President and he’s lying about immigration again, it will be the end of the road for conservatism in America."

Now, I don't know about you, but I am unwilling to trust anyone seeking the highest office in America who hasn't been honest in the past, or changes their entire stated belief system (like Trump) and doesn't come out and admit it and then fully explain why. Even then, I'm going to want to wait a period time (we are talking many years for someone seeking the Presidency) after the change of heart to see if not only their actions demonstrate a true change, but that the change stands the test of time. On this issue in particular Rubio hasn't met those standards for me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Your will be done... except....

I just read something by Beth Moore in the Esther Bible study that I just had to share.  It really hit home for me because for almost my entire life until recently the only time I ever prayed was when I was praying either for something NOT to happen (please don't let my Mom die from the colon cancer) or for something to stop happening (a rough time in my life that felt like hell on earth).

She is talking about how often our weak faith in God gives the Devil all the information he needs to get to us. You see, once we are in Christ, Satan no longer has the power to to destroy us so he settles for the next best thing- THREATENING to destroy us and planting seeds of doubt against our Father's faithfulness toward us. The example she uses has to do with our fears... those fears we harbor, often against the loss of a loved one, that threaten to undo us should they ever happen.  Be honest, no matter how strong your faith, at one time or another you have found yourself with thoughts no matter how fleeting such as: "if something ever happens to this precious child of mine I would just DIE"....

She says, "Our natural human defense is to grovel before God and plead with Him not to let those things happen.  Our conditional trust not only makes us an open target for enemy torment; it also positions us as negotiators and beggars before God instead of secure children who trust their lives to their faithful Father."

In a later paragraph, "The most critical breakthrough of faith you and I could ever experience is to let God bring us to a place where we trust Him- PERIOD.  We don't just trust Him to let us avoid what we fear most.  We determine to trust Him no matter what, even if our worst nightmare befalls us.  We have no greater victory and can render Satan no harsher blow."

Now, she isn't saying that we shouldn't ever pray for what our heart wants. When we are in a relationship with God our Father we are free to go to him with prayers such as these.  What she is saying, though, is that it is our FAITH in God that will carry us through no matter what; NOT THE OUTCOME.  Satan has no hold on us when we trust God has our best interests at heart.  Remember, even Jesus went to Gesthemane to pray, asking His Father if He really had to go to the cross and suggesting that maybe it didn't have to be... but in the end, after His prayers He said "Your will be done".

I'm just as guilty, which is why I spend so much time reading my Bible and studying His Word.  I am enjoying a relatively calm season of life right now, but that has not always been the case, and I know it likely will not always be the case.  I want to be ready if one of the things I pray against and dread happens. I am girding my heart and soul against the enemy attack that will surely come if such a tragedy occurs. Remember, God is good.  Pain and suffering is here because of sin, not because of God.

Maybe you are suffering with a fear of losing someone close to you in your life right now, or maybe you have recently lost a loved one and are not sure how you will get through it. Maybe you have hit a rough patch in life in other ways and wonder where God is right now. Our Lord loves you and grieves with you, my friend.  He never leaves us. It may hurt now, but our destiny is not shaped by NOW. Our destiny is shaped by our faith and trust in the Lord. Eternity in Heaven without pain and suffering waits for us, we just have to stay the course and follow Jesus' lead.  Remember, Your will be done, Father.  I will pray that we all have the strength to utter those words and believe in our Lord when faced with the unthinkable.