Why Suffering?

Why MeThere are a lot of things that I don’t understand about life here on earth. I have a pretty extensive list of questions that I want to ask the Lord when I see Him. As I continue to study His Word and get to know His Heart, I’ve received what I believe are some answers to some of my questions. I’ve often asked why do children have to suffer from a sickness or disease? Why do kids get killed in car accidents and the drunk driver live? I know that the presence of evil in our world is real. I know that disease and distress is here. I just hate to see someone of any age suffer and struggle with pain.

Job’s life changed radically and quickly. He went from having it all to having nothing at all. Everything was taken from him in a test allowed by the Lord because of His faithfulness to the Lord. He lost his family, all his livestock, his buildings, and not his health. He didn’t curse God, however he did curse the day he was born. Check this out…

16 Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child,

    like an infant who never saw the light of day?

17 There the wicked cease from turmoil,

    and there the weary are at rest.

18 Captives also enjoy their ease;

    they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout.

19 The small and the great are there,

    and the slaves are freed from their owners.

23 Why is life given to a man

    whose way is hidden,

    whom God has hedged in?

24 For sighing has become my daily food;

    my groans pour out like water.

25 What I feared has come upon me;

    what I dreaded has happened to me.

26 I have no peace, no quietness;

    I have no rest, but only turmoil.’ (Job 3:16-19; 23-26 NIV)

I don’t think I’ve ever suffered so profoundly that I wanted to die. I have seen that level of suffering up close though. From a pure human perspective, I understand why some people want assisted suicide. It’s even called “assisted dying” in parts of our culture. This topic is closely related to Euthanasia – the act of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. I struggle with this when it comes to a dog or cat and I can’t imagine working through this with another human being. I guess my view of life and the Creator of life really changes my view.

I don’t pretend to understand the depth of suffering and pain, but I do know that God is fully of mercy and love. I do believe that sometimes the suffering and pain of another person is not about them, it’s about the people around them. I’ve watched people grow emotionally and spiritually while walking with another through the struggle of pain and suffering. I know that there are times that death is a friend, but I still believe that the Lord is the only One qualified to make that call.

I still believe that God teaches us truth about Himself and sometimes about ourselves through suffering and these truths often can’t be learned any other way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Pick Your Battles

Teenage girl in trouble with parents
I remember being advised this as a young parent. I wasn’t sure quite what this meant until my kids became teenagers. During the adolescent years when kids are being transformed into adults there are lots of variables for them. They don’t think wisely in general because they are not wise yet – duh. They are growing into adult-hood with the safety net of a family structure to help them. I believe it’s a mistake of a parent to fight over every mistake, infraction, dumb decision, etc. that a kid makes. I do think that there are battles that I simply had to fight – like lying. I had to not only defend my position; I had to destroy their position with truth – if they were defending their choice to lie.

King Jehoshaphat of Judah learned that a vast armies from two different countries were coming to invade and take over Judah. The first thing he did was inquire of the Lord. He called a huge meeting just to seek the Lord together. After praying before the whole assembly, this young prophet had the spirit of the Lord all over him stood up to speak to the king and all the people. Check this out…

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17 NIV)

The young prophet spoke truth, because the Lord went ahead of them and both armies were defeated and when Judah showed up they simply took the spoils of war from the armies who were destroyed before them.

I was especially moved by the line that the “battle is not your, but God’s”. I needed to be reminded of that today. There are times when the situation is hard to navigate and I need lots of help. The Lord is there to give wisdom and discernment as I seek to navigate through out my day and throughout my life, for that matter. I would be wise to seek the Lord’s wisdom and direction for my everyday decisions.

He will take on my battles.

He will give me wisdom and direction when I ask.

He will be present no matter what I face.

It is my role to surrender the battle or the struggle to Him and let Him lead me through.

I’m going to relax and let the Lord lead me through any struggle or storm that I face realizing that the battles are not mine – they are His and He’s got this!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strength For The Fight

Man withstands moving downI sometimes try to imagine what some of our military men and women go through in fighting to protect the freedoms that I enjoy. I can hardly put my head around some of the conditions of the battle. I assume that there is an emotional/mental component of struggle from being away from home and loved ones. I also imagine that there is a big physical component to the battles or drills that they participate in for sure.

There was the death of the King of Ammonites and David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to the family and his son who was now king. The son obviously had some bad counsel and suspected David’s men as spies so he had half their bear cut off and he cut of part of their clothes exposing their backside – both of the actions were meant to humiliate the men. It really did humiliate the men and really sent David sideways too. He told Joab to go take care of business. Check this out…

9 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’ (2 Samuel 10:9-12 NIV)

That last verse jumped out and landed all over me this morning. I need to be encouraged to be strong and brave in the middle of personal struggles and suffering. There are times when suffering comes (and it’s never welcomed), that I have to walk through the struggle. I would be wise to quote Joab, the commander of David’s army – “be strong and let us fight bravely. . . The Lord will do what is good in His sight”.

As I live out my life today and every day, I want to see suffering and struggle as tools that the Lord can use to shape me. The enemy tries to use those things to destroy me, but God can use “all things for good”.   The apostle Paul reminds me that with the Holy Spirit in me, I can face whatever and be strong. Check this out…

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: 

‘For your sake we face death all day long;

    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 NIV)

He gives me the strength I need to push and fight through suffering, pain, grief and hardship.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strength In Struggle

 

depression teen girlThere have been way too many times in my life when I felt like all was lost. The pain that comes through suffering is almost devastating. There are times when I find it hard to lift my head because of what I’m facing. I’m still learning that there is ALWAYS Hope because of Creator God. He is NEVER too tired or too weak to help. He is NEVER too busy to listen. He comes to my rescue quite often.

David was in need of rescue. He and his men had gone out with the Philistines preparing for battle only to be sent home because the leadership didn’t trust him and his men to fight against his own countrymen. Upon arrival home the devastation was overwhelming. Check this out…

3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. 5 David’s two wives had been captured – Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30:3-6 NIV)

That last line of the passage jumped right in my lap as I read it. I needed to be reminded that my Source of strength can ALWAYS be found in the Lord God. I don’t always look to Him first – I often try my own way. I’m learning that He NEVER leaves and He’s ALWAYS the best Source of strength that exists. I’m so thankful for His rescue of me.

I immediately thought of this song by Hillsong called: Came To My Rescue.

1 Falling on my knees in worship

Giving all I am to seek your face

Lord all I am is yours

2 My whole life

I place in your hands

God of Mercy

Humbled I bow down

In your presence at your throne

C I called you answered

And you came to my rescue and I

I wanna be where you are

3 My whole life

I place in your hands

God of Mercy

Humbled I bow down

In your presence at your throne

C I called you answered

And you came to my rescue and I

I wanna be where you are

B In my life be lifted high

In our world be lifted high

In our love be lifted high

C I called you answered

And you came to my rescue and I

I wanna be where you are

________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Confidence

Prepared Not UnpreparedThere are times that I can walk into a room with confidence because I have done the work and I’m prepared for this meeting that I’m about to have. I have researched. I have revised. I have discovered options. I have drilled down the info to the bottom line. Then there are other times when an impromptu meeting is called and I don’t feel prepared at all. I don’t have any answers – just a lot of questions. I really hate feeling “caught off guard” but it happens. I can make it through those times gathering information and then making preparations for another opportunity to connect and deliver the details.

Education and preparation can give confidence. The Presence of God in me trumps all the education and preparation that I have. His Spirit can give wisdom and insight that no amount of education can provide.

The people of Israel were about to face 7 nations that were stronger than they were – but the Lord was with them. The Lord’s Presence inspired and motivated them. Moses challenged them to reflect on where they’ve been as they move forward. Check this out…

17 You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?’ 18 But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. 19 You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.

21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. (Deuteronomy 7:17-19,21 NIV)

Sometimes it helps to take a look back at where I’ve been and where I’ve come from to notice God’s hand orchestrating the story of my life. When I’m in the middle of struggle, hardship or deep pain it’s hard to see His Hand or feel His Presence. He is always there with me. As I take a look back and then look forward, I can face today with confidence that confuses people who don’t know Him. The world can be collapsing around me, but I’m holding tight to Him. I have confidence that He will walk me through the darkest valley and dance with me on the highest mountain. He is a GREAT & AWESOME God Whose Presence in me changes everything!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Moan & Groan

Young man suffering pain on his chest, isolated on whiteI think “moan and groan” might be related “whine and wail”. When I think of these words, the word anguish comes to mind. I’ve moaned and groaned in a state of desperation when my life was broken. I’ve whined and wailed in deep pain and struggle. These are not great places to be. I’ve since learned that to avoid being in these “places” requires a choice on my part. I must choose optimism and hope to see past my suffering and struggle. Besides all of that, the Lord can be honored in my struggle.

Ezekiel was prophesying what was about to come. His style was different than just speaking. Check this out…

6 “Son of man, groan before the people! Groan before them with bitter anguish and a broken heart. 7 When they ask why you are groaning, tell them, ‘I groan because of the terrifying news I have heard. When it comes true, the boldest heart will melt with fear; all strength will disappear. Every spirit will faint; strong knees will become as weak as water. And the Sovereign Lord says: It is coming! It’s on its way!’” (Ezekiel 21:6-7 NLT)

 

It sometimes blows my mind how the Lord can take a mess and make something so beautiful out of it. He hates sin but loves the sinner. He does some of His best work in me when I suffering deeply. It’s not a fun process, but I’m learning to hold on tight to Him as I navigate through the hardship and suffering. He doesn’t let my pain and struggle go to waste – He makes something good come out of it. Romans 8:28 comes to mind here. Check this out…

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (NIV)

 

Please don’t mistake moaning and groaning with griping and complaining. I am learning to lean on Him in the middle of every struggle, no matter how small or how large.

I can do everything through Christ Who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Pressing On!

Dwayne