From The Garden Bench - When Life Hurts
Words by David Hollows
If you could ask God one question from this side of eternity and you had the promise that He would give you an answer, what would you question be? Will you ask the same question when you arrive in eternity and you see God and Jesus face-to-face or will you have a different question to ask?
Certainly makes you think!
Recently there was a national survey in the USA when people were given the same opportunity as in the starter sentence above; which one question would you ask God if you had the promise that He would answer you?
The USA survey produced the following result of the most popular question people would ask;
Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Does this match your question? What would be your answer to this question?
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A possible answer to this question comes in 2 parts;
a- Jesus came to save us from the penalty of sin; we know that in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of Genesis, everything was paradise. The eaten fruit shattered this paradise and the relationship the first humans had with God was broken. But God did not give up and Jesus came to restore that essential relationship by His death and resurrection, for those who choose to accept the redemption achieved on the cross.
b- At some stage in the future, Jesus will come again and this time He will save us from the presence of sin and restore the earth and our lives to paradise. We know that even if we have a close relationship with God, nevertheless we are surrounded by sin and we are tempted on a daily basis to put ourselves first instead of God.
What do you think?
We cannot do anything about the cause of sin because this happened such a long time ago. However, we can choose to live ‘holy’ lives; lives worthy of God and the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We can choose to live our lives as best we can in the grace and mercy of God, in an intimate relationship with Him where His will is done in us and through us.
We are surrounded by sin; greed, selfishness, envy and all those characteristics of human nature which are the exact opposite of who God is. Yet we can choose to live a life of peace, tolerance, goodness, kindness and love.
We have to be resolute in choosing every day to live in the presence of God; not an easy choice at all but we are given the support of the Holy Spirit to assist us. At some stage in our lives we all have to deal with pain and suffering. God never promised an easy ride in life but He does promise us that He will be close to us and grant us what we need when the troubles of life come at us. And we have 2 options when the going gets tough; we can either fall apart of draw closer to God.
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In the Bible there are many stories which deal with the issues of life;
Grief; the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath and how God provides for the widow in her deepest need. Also there is the story of Mary and Martha following the death of their brother, Lazarus when Jesus weeps.
Barrenness; Sarah and Abraham struggle with the fact that Sarah cannot conceive until God’s promise is completed in her at an old age and the same is for Zachariah and Elizabeth.
Separation; the story of Jacob and Joseph and the ultimate fear of losing Benjamin as well. Also, the story of Hannah giving Samuel to God. Sickness and disease; Namaan and his leprosy and the many healing miracles in the Gospels.
Doubtless you will be able to think of other examples.
God cannot prevent pain and suffering; if He intervened then we would lose our free will and the sacrifice of Jesus would have been made in vain. In the story of Job, God does not intervene until at the very end of the story. Job has to endure many of the outcomes of the penalty of sin; he loses all his children to death in one day and the next day, all his livestock dies and much more. Yet in all of this, Job never loses his faith. Job has lots of questions, many of which are never answered but Job chooses to keep the faith even in the most difficult of times.
So, where is God when life hurts? weeping alongside you; Jesus wept with Mary and Martha comforting you; look again at the story of Jesus and the woman whose son has died and He meets with her on the way to the burial bringing you peace; when Jesus appears to the disciples in the locked room on the day of His resurrection.
In all the pain, grief, suffering and tears our God is only a prayer away waiting for us to daw on His closeness.
What is your life experience? Is this too simplistic a view? The key question is; will you turn to Him?
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The following songs may help you as you explore further; My hope is built on nothing less (Mission Praise 473) Turn your eyes upon Jesus (Mission Praise 712)
The following may help you as well;
You must be prepared for periods of darkness, anxiety, doubts, fears, of temptations that are sometimes very, very insistent, o sufferings of the body and, what is a hundred times more painful, of the soul. For if there was nothing to bear, for what would you go to heaven? If there were not trials, there would be no struggle. Without a struggle, victory would be impossible, and without victory, there is no crown, no reward. So be prepared from now on for everything. - Maximilian Kolbe
Are you suffering? Then, suffer with Christ! For God marks your every step; He that loves you with an infinite, unchanging love, is leading you by His Spirit and providence. He knows every stone and every thorn in your path. - Robert Murray McCheyne
A prayer for you;
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. - Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth chapter 1 verses 3 and 4
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Signing off; your local Lay-worker, David Hollows