Archive for the ‘Suffering’ category

The Need of Sin

May 20, 2019

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Love lacks a foil for its display in a perfect environment. … Above all other things there was need of sin, which would produce suffering and misery, so that there would be the need and the desire for a Savior; as well as estrangement and enmity in human hearts, so that there could be reconciliation, and humanity could be drawn closer to the heart of God than any others of His creatures. This demands an imperfect environment to produce it.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965)
Creation and Disruption
Unsearchable Riches, Volume 48
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Notre Dame Cathedral

April 18, 2019

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Construction of Notre Dame Cathedral began in 1160 and was not completed until 1260. What took a hundred years to bring to vain glory was simply reduced to shambles within hours.

As we watched the cathedral burn we were reminded of three main things.

(1) The temporal nature of life;
(2) That God doesn’t dwell in temples made by hands;
(3) That one day God Himself will burn all of man’s religious and governmental systems – atrocities that have infringed on the freedom and joy of His creation, as well as obstructed meaningful relationship with Him.

Pointedly the apostle James wrote, “What is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (4:14). In Paris eight hundred years of history were gone in a day.

Our apostle, Paul, said candidly to the Pagans that “the God Who makes the world and all that is in it, He, the Lord inherent of Heaven and Earth, is not dwelling in temples made by hands” (Acts 17:24, Concordant). Yet, many hundreds of years later men are still are desolately ignorant of this profound truth.

Then, as we contemplate the future judgment of God, we embrace the realization that divine judgment is nothing short of setting things right. There is much that is horribly and tragically wrong with the world, and yet, those of us who have been granted enlightenment to know the One true God rejoice in the day when man’s oppressive religions and governments will be brought to ashes by the glorious passion of a loving and gracious God! After all, it will be Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) that will be used as the basis of future judgment (Romans 2:16).

Divine judgment will wipe clean the slate of religious and governmental kingdoms that have been unbearably built up and in turn have laid bare the backs of the common man. The corrupt Roman Catholic Church embodied the horrid wickedness of these two intrusive systems during the Dark Ages – a vile residue which malignantly fills the world even to this day. The relentless abuse of mankind by these evil empires will rightfully meet with the fervent fire of God, clearing way for all that is right (righteousness), and good, and loving (II Peter 3:10, 12).

With the anticipation of faith we look forward to that liberating day! Meanwhile we “withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6: 13), patiently laboring “as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), being “kind … tenderly compassionate, dealing graciously … according as God also, in Christ, deals graciously” with us (Ephesians 4:32, Concordant).

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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August 6, 2018

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Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
Letters to Malcolm
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Correction Is but a Means to an End

August 4, 2018

The corrective effects of kolasis aionios[1] last forever. But as a means to an end, it will not last any longer than is necessary to produce the end for which it exists in the first place. When we finally weary of our own selfishness, petty jealousies, and lust for power; when we learn at last, perhaps through bitter experience, that these lead only to ruin and cannot bring enduring happiness, that nothing short of union with God and reconciliation with others will satisfy our own deepest yearnings; when we discover that the Hound of Heaven has finally closed off every alternative to such a union, we shall then, each of us, finally embrace the destiny that is ours.

— Thomas Talbott
The Inescapable Love of God
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[1] I.e.,eonian correction” (Matthew 25:46; erroneously translated “everlasting punishment”)

Perfect Imperfection

February 20, 2018

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Imperfections, problems, flaws, defects, blunders, and difficult conditions hound us all. Yet, God is sovereign – fully aware and completely able to alter any of these situations. Therefore, these must be perfect imperfections.

These may result in disasters, cancer, tsunamis, misery and death – but the resurrection of all (Acts 24:15) and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21) will result in our ability to recognize and appreciate God’s relentless love and mercy forever.

Perhaps it could be that the only way for us to really see these amazing and beautiful attributes of our Creator was for us to experience these perfectly orchestrated imperfections for ourselves. Temporary discomforts and even horrible tragedies are choreographed to set the backdrop for us to clearly see Him when we enter the resurrected life.

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill goes forth? (Lamentations 3:38).

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, Who does all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

Mike Owens
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The Ultimate End of the Story Is Going to Be All Right

December 14, 2017

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My friend Dana and I talk about how we want to make everything all right for those we love, and cannot. Her mother died of pancreatic cancer only a few months ago. We say to each other that if we were God we would make everything all right, and then we stop. Look at each other. Because we suddenly see that making everything all right would not make everything all right. We would not be human beings. … We agree sadly that it is a good thing that we are not God; we do not have to understand God’s ways, or the suffering and brokenness and pain that sooner or later come to us all. But we do have to know in the very depths of our being that the ultimate end of the story, no matter how many eons it takes, is going to be all right.

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)
Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage, pages 151-152
Harper & Row (1988)
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God Will Accomplish His Goal

December 6, 2017

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Are you sometimes confused by your circumstances? Have you ever been emotionally depleted by things that have happened with your finances, parents, children, even your ministry? Have you ever felt like life is beating you down? Have you doubted God? You didn’t want to doubt, but you did anyway.

When we feel like this (and we all do at times), just trust your Father. Even when you don’t understand, trust Him. As you grow in your knowledge of your loving Abba, you will learn to accept events as they unfold. He is the Great Sovereign over the details of your life and will perform on your behalf, and for His own glory, all the things He has planned for you. Our impatience and frustration is born of our immaturity, but it is through those very trials we protest that God’s Spirit will bring us into a greater maturity.

God will accomplish His goals for your life. … Trust in His goodness and His wisdom. The destination which you will reach is not your concern. … Cling to Him as the journey unfolds. His role is to ensure that you reach His intended destination. …

Relax, and enjoy your journey. Rest in your Father’s sovereignty. Your life is an adventure, planned and performed by Him. We grow weary when we try to do what He alone can do. It is through our trials that He will lift our controlling need to be in charge. We must see that we are not in charge, but God alone determines and controls the unfolding of our destiny. Control is an arena for which we are not suited. Our Father, on the other hand, is perfectly suited for that role.

Steve McVey
Grace Walk
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