Unspoken Questions

In difficult times the thoughts of most people, Christian or not, turn to God in some way. Why is this happening to me? Why does God allow suffering?

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In difficult times the thoughts of most people, Christian or not, turn to God in some way. Why is this happening to me? Why does God allow suffering?

As Christians  we can feel that it is wrong to question God and those questions remain unasked festering away in the recesses of our minds. The problem is that the questions don’t just go away, they keep playing like a tape in our heads and work against us receiving the help we need from God.  We need to ask Him. These are some of the questions the Psalmist Asaph addresses to God:

“Will the Lord spurn for ever,
    and never again be favourable?
Has his steadfast love for ever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (Ps. 77:7-9)

Questions lying beneath the surface might be “Don’t you know what’s going on” Do you see me? Do you hear me? If you’re in control why don’t you do something? Why is this happening to me? Why are you doing this to me? All these questions are fundamentally asking “Is God trustworthy?” and “Can I trust Him with my life?” If we can’t resolve this we will never truly trust God nor will we be able to experience His love for us because that requires opening ourselves up to God and we won’t do that if we don’t trust Him.

why-1432955_1280Lying underneath the “Why? question is the notion that we don’t deserve this. We expect our  lives to be plain sailing and  question God when they are not. “What have I done to deserve this? If we haven’t done anything “wrong” then we can make the deduction that God must be fickle or a hard task master who must be appeased. If we distort who God is – that He is an evil tyrant then in turn we distort who we are. Instead of beloved children we behave as slaves working away through our performance to earn God’s approval or love as a means of dealing with our pain.

Sometimes, because we are suffering, we believe lies about ourselves . There is a faulty logic which says that if bad things happen to me I must deserve it and therefore I am in some way unlovable or undeserving of God’s love. This is where wrong thinking can compound our suffering so we are dealing not only with the source of pain but also with the lies we believe about ourselves. This can also lead to unhelpful behaviour where we try to deaden our pain with comfort-eating, drink, drugs, performance or denial etc

Suffering can produce a ripple effect in our lives. There is the initial pain but there can be ripples that go on and on throughout our lives. Some of those ripples are the consequences of what happened to us, maybe a relationship ended or we lost our job, some of the ripples are where we have compounded our own suffering with believing lies and adopting sinful behaviour which in turn produce more ripples of pain/suffering.

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Often we don’t want to face our pain with God because it is so painful for us. Painful to talk about and/or painful to face up to where we have compounded it with our own behaviour. If we can’t go to God we are shutting ourselves off from the very one who can help us.

So how do we answer those questions? We need to take them to God. We need to remember what we already know about God and to remind ourselves that our circumstances do not change the nature of God. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. We need to listen to Him and to those around us as they encourage us with truth.

God IS with us in our suffering. He sees us, He hears us and He understands. How do we know this? Because Jesus came to earth and identified with us. He suffered AND took all our sin and shame on Him. He suffered mockery, rejection, betrayal, physical abuse, and isolation. He has suffered more than we ever will.

Jesus gives us an example of how to cope in times of suffering. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying and  knowing that he was about to be betrayed, beaten and crucified he cried out to God, “Abba!” The name a child calls their father, Daddy. It speaks of intimacy and trust. He was able to pray “not my will but thine be done” because he trusted in the goodness of His father.

Jesus has sent his Holy Spirit to us by whom we can now cry “Abba!” because we have been adopted into His family as His children. Even if we cannot find the words, the Holy Spirit is interceding for us.

If life is difficult right now, or if you are in pain as a result of suffering in the past. There is hope for you. Hope for healing and hope for change.

When I went through a difficult season in my life what sustained me and helped me through was knowing that God is always good towards me. He will always be good to me, He will always be good to you because He cannot change. Our circumstances change, sometimes they are good, sometimes they are not, but God does not change and He is always for you.

How about you? Do you really know that God is good?.

 

Other relevant blogs:

The Goodness Bag,

The Valley of the Shadow of Death,

When the going gets tough

Photo credits: all images are from pixabay

 

 

 

Everyday Fears

I can’t control what may happen to me and those I love by giving in to fear and anxiety

Everyday I take a tablet, everyday when I take it I am reminded that I had breast cancer a year or so ago (you can read about it here). As I take the tablet all sorts of nasty thoughts come to mind. “Am I really free from cancer?” “Is this tablet really working”or  “Oh no I forgot my tablet, am I going to get cancer again” “Will I get all those side-effects”

In addition to this there are the times when kind-intentioned  people ask me “Are you alright ” with a meaningful look as they don’t want to mention the C-word. However I do know what they are talking about and my brain does a loop, “Am I alright now””Don’t I look alright””Maybe they are seeing something I’m not?”

You don’t have to have had cancer to be assaulted with all sorts of fears throughout the day. As a Mum I find I can be fearful about my kids even though they are now adults.  For example, they may be travelling in a car driven by a new or young driver and I wait to hear that they have arrived safely etc.photo-1467219598992-52591d77fdec

I have learned that I just can’t afford to listen to all these thoughts. If I did my life would be controlled by them. Instead I have decided  to trust in the perfect love of God. I can’t control what may happen to me and those I love by giving in to fear and anxiety but what I know is that God is always good and He will never leave me alone to cope with difficult situations.

I like the way The Message puts 1 Jn. 4:18:

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

The idea that we can take up residence in love rather than fear is helpful. You see I have a choice to make – am I going to listen to those niggling fears and make my home there or am I going to make love my home. I know which I prefer but it is not always so easy.

file_000-17Often we are taken unawares by a fearful thought, then we feed it by allowing it room, going over and over it in our mind, adding to it a number of what ifs (what if the cancer comes back? etc) and before we know it we are overcome with fear and anxiety.

Some of us try to numb our fears by turning to food, alcohol or drugs. Some of us try to suppress or control our fears by adopting certain behaviours – being busy all the time, working hard, perfectionism. There can be a kind of unspoken bargaining going on. If I do x, y or z, God won’t punish me with the thing I’m afraid of.

NO! NO! NO! None of these remedies will ever deal with our fears.Take a look at that verse again:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 Jn. 4:18

The remedy for fear is to know God’s love. At its heart the Bible is a love story. It is the story of God’s love for us, not just as a people but as individuals. We can each know the love of God for us in a tangible way, we can experience it. It is not just a part of the theology of who God is or an abstract concept.

God’s love provides a rock beneath my feet, I am secure in His love. This love means that I do not have to give room to fear. Jesus has already paid the penalty for my punishment so I don’t have to fear that either. Paul asks the rhetorical question:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31) and goes on to answer himself:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 ….. 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

So everyday when I take my anti-cancer tablet I remind myself that none of the things that I worry about can separate me from God’s love. If I make that love my home I have NOTHING to fear and I can live my  life free from anxiety.

How about you?

 

Related Blog: The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Photo Credits:
Fear photo: pixabay
Racing Car: Unsplash
Make Love Your Home created using wordswag