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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pain and Promise

Today has been an interesting mix of conversations with believers.  It started this morning with a group of us discussing Jeremiah 9.  We saw strong parallels with what is going on in the western church today.
How do explain it when life does not "work out" for Christians?  Thoughts at DTTB.
I met after that with a friend who has had a rough few years.  He was struggling with why as one who was pursuing God did his life fall apart.

Then this afternoon a pastor from Canada who is staying with us for a few days and I talked for a couple of hours about how viewed ministry and discipleship.

There was a thread thorough all of the conversations.

At some level as believers we have a lingering feeling that if we follow God closely and do all of the right disciplines that life will somehow work out really well.  You know we will have a great marriage, we will have kids that all do the right sorts of things, and we will have all of our needs (really wants) met.

It does not seem to work out that way very often.  If you read the Bible at an even cursory level you begin to see a pattern that seems to extend to our time today.  Conflict, chaos, and suffering.  1 Peter is written to warn and prepare believers about just that.

This life is filled with emotional, physical, and spiritual pain.  But there is also a promise.  That promise is that this life is not all that there is.  As a matter of fact this life, our experiences here, are in, as C. S. Lewis called them, the Shadowlands.  We are not home.  We are in a world and a system in the control of an enemy who hates us and the horse we rode in on, and does everything he can think of to destroy us.  So things are not going to always work out well.  Read Jeremiah, Ezekiel, look at what happened to Paul in Acts.  Think about Stephen in Acts.  We are at war.  We are not on a beach.  Well if we are it is Normandy and June 6th.

But the promise is that this is not all that there is.


  1. What a "bloody" struggle rages in modern theology, and in our own hearts as you describe, Mike! Where did I ever get the notion that if I'm a "good boy" I won't get disciplined? Well, if I was, I didn't get spanked or grounded, for one thing. But that was small potatoes compared to the struggle I face on a mostly continuous basis in my soul. I conclude it's ingrained in my essential nature as a fallen man.

    Is this not the key struggle for Job? Why should I be any different - nobody would ever describe me as "a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil" (Job 1:8).

    What was the outcome for Job? "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes."
    (Job 42:5-6).

    Do I want to know God that badly? It probably doesn't make much difference; it's His plan anyway (I Thes.4:3; 1 Peter 3:17, 18 e.g.).

    But we also know that He will bring us safely through; by HIs provision our life is

    1. Yep, and it is for eternity that He is making us fit.. Good thoughts.