Friday, January 14, 2005

I have been asked: how could you have faith with all the pain and grief in the world? After all, there is unfairness and injustice everywhere to be seen.

That is true, yet when I consider the pain and grief in the world -- all the unfairness and injustice, I am brought to remember that although God is just, our God saves us [Isaiah 45:21] even when we have been unjust or unfair. The pain and the grief in the world is the burden God bears because of His mercy and patience. In spite of His justice and our sins, God is unceasing in His efforts to save and redeem us [Isaiah 40:28]. God shows great patience with us. However, just as the Holy One shows patience with us, so God shows patience with others who wrong or harm us.

Our part in this, according to the scriptures, is that only that as God has patience with us, so we should have patience with God [Psalm 130: 3-7].

Patience with God is essential in times of suffering, doubt and despair. Without patience we can not wait long enough. The world is unfair and as a result there will be suffering, doubt and despair -- both earned and unearned. In the mists of confusing darkness that plague us, we need to always hold on firmly to patience in God as if to an iron rod. By our patience we give God opportunity, in this life or the next, to redeem us from those things which plague us. Patience allows for the healing of our spirits.

To help us hold on to faith, God has given us commandments and scriptures to carry His word and for us to hold to. The Bible clearly warns that this life (by itself, without more) is unfair, that it is Christlike and acceptable to mourn or weep when we are afflicted, and that there is a consolation for those who suffer. The Bible says "blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

The Book of Job (in general) and Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; 9:11, are very specific. Life is unfair and harsh. That is the nature of a fallen world filled with those who are allowed to choose to sin. God is justified not by what happens in this life but by the fact that "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Christ confirmed the Book of Job when he also noted that misfortune falls upon people without regard to sin or other "justification" acceptable to the natural man. As the scriptures reflect:

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." John 9:1-3

That is, misfortune often comes not because of the sins of our parents, or our own sins but because we live in a natural world. Misfortune comes because the natural world is full of trouble. God can allow the tribulations of the world to afflict us because God is able to, and intends through His works, to give us consolation and to restore us from the pain of the world. That is, though we fall and are bruised, though we are hurt and suffer, by God we shall be blessed and healed.

Just because God promises to heal us, God does not expect us to embrace trouble or to be glad when we are afflicted. Christ taught men to pray:

"And lead us not unto temptation, but deliver us from evil..." Matthew 6:13

The Greek term used for evil in that sermon also means tribulation or misfortune. There is absolutely nothing wrong in desiring to escape the natural man's tribulation or the natural world's misfortune and we are permitted (and encouraged) to pray that we might be delivered from the bitter cup of suffering to the extent that it is possible. [Note the example of Matthew 26:39.]

In this life is impossible for us to avoid misfortune. As long as we dwell within this fallen telestial world we will suffer pain and confusion. To help us, God has given us his word to provide patience and comfort. While we may suffer and know pain, it is the intent of God that we have hope.

1 comment:

fMhLisa said...

Very nice post!