why me?

These are questions we tend to ask when things aren’t going the way we would desire for them to go.  Why me?  Why this? Why now?

Justin Taylor posts an answer tree from David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,”  in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173)..

here is a paragraph from the middle, but you really have to go read and perhaps meditate on the whole thing

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

I have the Kindle version of Suffering and the Sovereignty of God on my iPhone. Obviously, I need to read past the introduction.

two on suffering

first courtesy of Vitamin Z we get this comforting bit that we will never be able to fully explain the problem of evil but that we can trust God anyway:

So how do Christians explain the problem of evil?

The reality is, we can’t provide an exhaustive theodicy or explanation of the existence of evil.  Our minds cannot fully fathom “why.”

But, in his recommended book, Return to Reason, Kelly Clark, explains why Christians need not feel intellectually compromised if they cannot explain the existence of evil.  Here is how he concludes the discussion.

The Christian theist need not be troubled by is his ignorance of a theodicy.  This ignorance is not insincere, questionable or obscurantist.  Rather, it is quite consistent with his theistic beliefs.  The Christian theist will believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil, although  he does not know what it is or know it in any detail.  He believes that God has a good reason because of God’s redemptive incarnational revelation.  It is not rationally incumbent upon the theist to produce a successful theodicy; the theist, in order to be rational, must simply believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil.  A God who shares in our pain, who redeems our sorrows and our shortcomings, who wipes away ever tear, is surely a good God. (page 89).

and then Halim Suh is making plans. He is thinking about what he wants his friends to tell him when suffering comes in his life. It is so very helpful to have right theology and right thinking about suffering firmly in place in your mind before the suffering hits. before the cancer diagnosis, before the layoff, before the horrible accident etc. etc. Here are some of Halim’s prospective advices to himself. Go read the rest.

Yesterday in our book group, we were discussing suffering. Honestly, I haven’t endured a lot of suffering, yet, in this life. Especially not the tragic, life-changes-in-a-moment kind of suffering. But, only the Lord knows if it is coming. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would want people to tell me if I do go through a crisis – and these are things that I think I would need to hear:

Tell me that there is a God in heaven, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Remind me that my crisis, my suffering, is not a surprise to Him, and that it has not happened outside of His control. Tell me that my God has a purpose in everything – my suffering included. Remind me that He is the God who sees everything – not one thing has ever escaped His attention. He sees me now.
….
Tell me that there is a Savior that suffered – a lot more than I can ever imagine. No matter how much suffering I am enduring, remind me that Jesus suffered so much more, infinitely more. Tell me that He can comfort me because He knows my pain. He knows my suffering. Tell me that my Jesus is there.

Tell me that God loves me with a fierce love – the kind that rips open seas, that drowns armies, that throws hailstones from heaven, that shuts up lions’ mouths, that saves from consuming fires, that heals the lame, that feeds the hungry and that conquers death. Remind me that my God loves me like that. And that this God doesn’t change, nor does His love for me change. So, if He has ordained suffering in my life, He is still loving me – although I may not see it or understand it.

Halim is one of the staff at Austin Stone Community Church.

stormy seas? no problem

Courtesy of John Mark at Sweet Tea and Theology, here is a great quote from John Newton (the author of the hymn Amazing Grace)

I heartily sympathize with you in your complaints; but I see you in safe hands. The Lord loves you, and will take care of you. He who raises the dead, can revive your spirits when you are cast down. He who sets bounds to the sea, and says “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further,” can limit and moderate that gloom which sometimes distresses you. He knows why he permit, you to be thus exercised. I cannot assign the reasons, but I am sure they are worthy of his wisdom and love, and that you will hereafter see and say, He has done all things well. If I was as wise as your philosopher, I might say a great deal about a melancholy complexion; but I love not to puzzle myself with second causes, while the first cause is at hand, which sufficiently accounts for every phenomenon in a believer’s experience. Your constitution, your situation, your temper; your distemper, all that is either comfortable or painful in your lot, is of his appointment. The hairs of your head are all numbered: the same power which produced the planet Jupiter is necessary to the production of a single hair, nor can one of them fall to the ground without his notice, any more than the stars can fall from their orbits. If providence, no less than in creation, he is Maximus in minimis. Therefore fear not; only believe. Our sea may sometimes be stormy, but we have an infallible Pilot, and shall infallibly gain our port.Letter IX, Dying in the Lord by John Newton. Nov. 27, 1778.

emphasis added

aren’t there times in life when the only available comfort is that God is “Maximus in minimis”, that we can fear not only because we trust completely in our infallible Pilot?

What a great word. by the way, this movie was similarly great and to me, the best parts were Wilberforce’s conversations with John Newton.