August 7, 2007

Cowboy, I don’t believe anyone here was “blaming G-d” for the pain in the world and the broken-ness. I certainly wasn’t. However, I do disagree with you on what is most likely a semantical argument.

“Love doesn’t hurt.”

To be more precise, Love doesn’t “harm”. Love hurts like hell and bears incredible fruit. What Love doesn’t do is break you for the fun of it, shred your dignity and leave you bleeding in the middle of the road to be laughed at by strangers.

But Love will intervene, challenge behavior which is destructive and stand in the way of me getting my selfish, human, fallen nature way even at the cost of relationship.

Love spanks. Love “chastens”. Love exhorts and admonishes.

Love doesn’t destroy.

To address your further points… I so completely agree with you about G-d being a good and faithful Father. He provides such good care for His own. And we still live in a fallen world with broken bodies, minds and hearts. One day we will be whole, complete and perfectly strong. One day we will see Him face to face.

I don’t believe you believe we should run away from pain as I’ve “seen” you run headlong into it, through it and somehow beyond it. G-d’s grace is sufficient, no? Yes?

Yet, somehow, your comments struck me as the “avoid all pain as it is evil and shouldn’t be tolerated” type of faith talk. That always gets such a knee jerk reaction out of me and believe me, I am trying to not be inflammatory but feel compelled to reply.

Pain has a purpose here on earth or there would have been no need for the cross. By His stripes we are healed. He suffered so that I would not have to suffer the fires of hell.

Paul suffered, Stephen was stoned and Peter was crucified upside down. Countless faithful down through the history of the Body of Messiah have been persecuted, afflicted and now take their place at His feet crying “holy, holy, holy”.

Pain can be despised or used as a catalyst to grow, an opportunity to find faith you never knew existed and ultimately is an extremely useful method of refinement for believers.

Sickness, disease, hardship, broken hearts are all avenues where, if we listen carefully, we can hear the voice of our Savior whispering comfort, strength and hope to us. By saying that do I infer pain, sickness, hardship and broken hearts come from Him? Absolutely not. Emphatically not. Do I believe He allows? Well, the entire book of Job would be a fallacy and a lie if He didn’t, wouldn’t it?

Job could be trusted with hardship, loss and suffering. Trusted? How? Why?

Because he knew G-d. He trusted G-d and his faith in G-d’s goodness was unwavering.

And our good and glorious G-d told Satan, the adversary of our souls:

“…Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” Job 2:6b

G-d gave Satan PERMISSION to afflict, hurt and even harm Job. And how Job suffered! Unlike anyone I have ever heard. Did G-d restore to him? Of course! Job was rewarded for his faithfulness and his unwavering faith.

Can we say the same for ourselves in the middle of difficult circumstances? How easily do I waver? How easily do you?

We serve a G-d of blessing and goodness. And we serve a loving Father who chastises, disciplines and removes things from our lives. He removes things we would be tempted to worship and objects or desires which would conflict with His plan.

Do we spend hours begging for the cup to pass or do we share our honest hearts about the pain we are experiencing and somehow find the strength to finish with “not my will but Yours be done.”

Pain is not our enemy. Bitterness and self-preservation far too often have become the culprits behind broken faith.

We can hide our pain in a closet and pretend it doesn’t exist, or we can bare our bleeding, shredded souls to a careful and considerate Great Physician. Can I trust a Physician who may not choose to heal me so my soul could be refined? So my life could be a testimony of grace, mercy and compassion?

It is not through the absence of conflict our character is revealed but our response through conflict, distress and confusion. When the layers of our public self are stripped away to reveal the purpose of our private heart THEN we can be counted. Then we can be that living sacrifice from Roman’s.

My life should not be focused on the good and comfort I may find here on earth but the hope and eternal purpose for which we were all created.

And to find that purpose? Sometimes we walk through fire, on crutches, with tears.