Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moses' Mom's Neighbour - Part Two

In Part One we looked at how there are times when God doesn’t respond to our prayers in the way that we want Him to and so we may face illness, death or other tragedy. We asked what does God have to say about this?

What does God have to say?
So what does God have to say to the lady who lived next to Moses’ mom, to all the others in the bible who did not get their miracles, and to us who were disappointed?
Has he abandoned us?
Has he given up on us?
Is he punishing us?
Is He too busy to care??

We have found that God does have something to say to those who are hurting and disappointed. He is not silent. Here are six things that God has said to us during our season of hurt:

1. God says He will be with us in those times of pain
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.
Isaiah 43: 2-3

Although there were definitely times when we felt like we did not know how to reach out to God, when the disappointment and fear was so powerful, we did always know that He was with us in this somehow. I couldn’t always point to something and say look that is proof that God is here, but something in my spirit, deep inside knew that He was. It was like a little light that kept shining even in the dark, tired days.

2. God says He will comfort us
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.
Isaiah 66:13

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3

Again I find it hard to pin down one thing and say this is God’s comfort – it is not always tangible. Sometimes it’s a whisper, hardly there, but at the same time so definitely there. Other times the comfort comes through friend – something they say or do; or through something I read or heard, or a song or a dream.

3. God says that He is not surprised that we have pain
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Dear friends, do not be surprised as the painful trail you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Peter 4: 12

Our society does its best to hide pain from us. Suffering is not often spoken about. Death and illness are brushed away to a place we don’t see. We are encouraged to look good, to feel good, to succeed and prosper; we are not encouraged to build character and endurance for the times of trial. So when it hits us it is a surprise. But God is not thrown by it, He doesn’t panic and say “Oh my word, look at what has just happened to Lloyd and Jacqui, what am I going to do now???” On the contrary God knows, He is not freaking out, He is not clueless about how He will respond.

4. God explains that suffering can be beneficial
Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.
Romans 5: 1-5

This has been such an interesting concept: that God can take suffering and use it to produce good things in our lives. I don’t believe God is saying He inflicts suffering on us in order to grow us, but when it does occur, He can turn it into something good.
On the one hand it doesn’t make sense (certainly not in the society where I live - good things only come from ease, leisure, pleasure and comfort); but our experience has shown that He is indeed telling the truth. Matt has only just turned two, and in these 2 years we can already see the good that God has birthed through our disappointment. Here are some examples.

Lloyd has found that he has become a better doctor – he has more understanding and empathy for parents. God has used him a number of times to encourage parents who children with disabilities.

I have been able to reach out to other families who have children with disabilities and share how Jesus has been our strength.

We are both more gentle and sensitive to those around us who are suffering which has made us more effective for His kingdom.

We have grown in our relationship with God – it is becoming more real as we have worked through what we believe.

Our marriage has grown stronger as we have walked through this difficult time together.

5. God reminds us to remember the eternal perspective
Blessed is the person who perseveres under trial, because when she has stood the test, she will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who loved him.
James 1:12

Life on earth is not all that there is to our existence. The bible is clear that once we die, there is more to come – an eternity in fact. And this eternity spent with God is going to be so good, that our sufferings here will be forgotten.

6. God says that has known suffering
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Isaiah 53: 3

This verse is describing Jesus and we know the story of how he suffered and was killed. In sending his son to earth and watching him die God has experienced and felt the pain of loss, grief, humiliation, rejection and abandonment. He does not relate to me on a theoretical basis because He knows, He has been through it. His compassion and His guidance come from a place of experience, not just head knowledge so to speak.
In Part Three we look at how we can respond to what God has said. Click here to go to Part 3.

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