Does God’s grace prevent suffering?

3 Comments

Psalm 112: 6 – 8 …the righteous will never be moved……he is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady;he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

One Christian sister received the good news of a recovered wallet. Another learned that her 83-year-old mom had been severely beaten by a man who broke into her house.

I paused when I read the second account in our church’s Facebook women’s group. What do I make of that?  How do I make sense of the gift of grace to one and the frightening violence done to the other’s elderly mother?  I put myself in the place of both gals, the relief of one and the horrifying shock of the other.

This is difficult for believers, let alone those with no or other spiritual beliefs. But I’m not addressing what non-Christians might think in this post.  I do know that everyone tries to make sense of evil and violence. Only Christians have a coherent framework, thanks to the one and only Living God. We don’t purport to understand everything God does, but we do know his character and his will for the world. And we have his promises.

This morning’s psalm brought back the two situations and gave me some help.   That little word ‘until’ implies waiting, a time lapse.  Evil happens to the righteous as well as the unrighteous.  King Ahab’s wife Jezebel not only stole Naboth’s rightful portion allotted him by the Lord, she organized trumped-up lies against this righteous man of God and murder by stoning. All because her sulking husband couldn’t convince Naboth to sell him his garden.

When did Naboth and his family receive justice?  It is yet to occur.  When Ahab and Jezebel face the judge of the universe, they will pay.

Back to beating up an aging mom, what about her and her vindication?  When will that perpetrator pay?  Either Jesus has already suffered for the guilty man if he turns to Christ before he dies, or he will be punished when Jesus comes again. 

Either way, that word ‘until’ still prevails. 

I don’t know why the Lord treated one gal so gently and the other so painfully.  I DO know that He is good and his ways are not our ways.  I have to keep my mouth shut and trust Him.

When fear is unreasonable

Leave a comment

“It is sheer unreasonableness for men created by a loving God and redeemed by a loving Savior to fear any man or anything that may happen. Richard Wurmbrand

What do you fear? What scares you?

I fear harm to my children and my grandchildren.  Thinking about my death or that of my husband doesn’t weigh heavy on me. I think the idea of my kids and their families suffering loss or injury is more about the imagined pain to ME.  When I love someone like I love my boys and their wives, then THEIR pain is my pain.  I bet you can identify. Haven’t we all said, ‘I wish I were the one sick or suffering and not YOU!’  I think it’s because we feel helpless to relieve the pain of the other person. Maybe that helplessness hurts more than what we think is their pain.

Scripture talks about how Satan has us chained by all kinds fear as well as fear of death:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Heb 2:14-15

Rereading this scriptural truth makes me think if perhaps ALL my fears are actually a product of Satan’s subtle suggestions and running commentary to the 24/7 information stream we take in.  Worldwide info-tainment feeds our dramatic and sometimes perverse interest in learning about the disasters others undergo.

And when we take in all this bad news (without remembering God who is sovereign), we are more susceptible to lose our confidence in Him. One byproduct of Satan’s fear mongering is discouragement. Last week, it occurred to me that one reason I find the Christian life SO hard is because of the Devil.  He is EVIL and he has a whole army of spirits at his beck and call whom he dispatches for his deadly work.  His goal?  To kill Christians, frighten and silence them or at the least render us ineffective and discouraged. But we are God’s greatly loved and redeemed children!  We mustn’t forget.

You don’t believe our anxiety and heavy hearts might be the work of the devil?  Tell me then, why do we forget God’s truths over night?  Why do we have to read His promises each day, building back and restoring our faith to yesterday’s level of restful reliance on Him. Why is that?  Wouldn’t you think we’d remember?  I mean, I don’t forget recipes that I make frequently.  I don’t forget my French and other languages I have.  But I forget how good our God is.  I forget that He has given me a stunning cosmic identity and eternal purpose through Christ who redeemed me.

What else is all this daily discouragement but the death of certainty?

Even though discouragement creeps in daily, recognizing who is at the source of my negative fearful feelings helps me a lot.

Knowing that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with ME is a relief.  Just living aware that Satan’s tactical goal is to get me to disbelieve my good Father EACH and EVERY moment increases my resolve to believe God and His Word all the more.

Drawing these thoughts to a close, if we are not to fear death or harm, is there anything we SHOULD fear? For as Richard Wurmbrand from Voice of the Martyrs commented, it is unreasonable to fear any created being or situation, whether Satan or man. Yes, there is One whom we are to fear.  We are commanded and commended to respect, be in awe of, to exercise a holy, righteous fear of the Lord.  Him alone.  This fear won’t send us cowering. This fear purifies and strengthens us.

Psalm 33:8

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

Job 4:6 Is not your fear of God your confidence?

Psalm 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who greatly delights in His commandments.

A writer for Christianity Today puts fearing God into a helpful context:

Unfortunately, many of us presume that the world is the ultimate threat and that God’s function is to offset it. How different this is from the biblical position that God is far scarier than the world …. When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world’s threats are temporary. When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world’s equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.

 

%d bloggers like this: