Friday, July 29, 2005 


I ran across this list at Desiring God of resources for those who suffer. Here is a link. They are also hosting a conference this fall called "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God."

Monday, July 25, 2005 

When God Doesn't Heal by Mark M. Yarbrough Why doesn't God cure everyone who prays fervently for healing?

The life context of the question is all too familiar. The issue arises in our darkest hours- in the hospital ward, in the doctor’s office, when the unfavorable test results return. Our need often arises unexpectedly and then consumes us.

Embedded in the question are two key assumptions. First, that ours is a God of miracles, including healing. A quick evaluation of Scripture attests that miracles display God’s power (Jeremiah 10;12), arouse wonder (Exodus 4:21), and a function as a sign to confirm his message (Matthew 12:39-40).

The second assumption is that believers are instructed to pray fervently. The Thessalonians are commanded to :pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because habitual prayers express dependence on God. And positioned as little children, we anticipate ‘good things’ from our heavenly Father (Matthew 7:11). Yet three additional points are critical.

First, God does not always respond to our desires, and he frequently allows circumstances we wish he would not. Theologically we call this sovereignty. Inherent in our faith is the scriptural truth that God is in control. This includes the events he directs and the circumstances he allows. He has the power and responsibility to exercise his right over creation according to his will (Psalm 50:1, 115:3).

Yet God repeatedly chooses to veil the ways in which he exercises those rights. Hence our requests will not always coincide with God’s response. Peter understood this as it applied to suffering: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19)

Second, our tendency is to doubt God’s sovereignty in the midst of tumultuous times. Unfortunately, when we doubt we presume to comprehend more than he does. Yes, from our vantage point, we might think that God’s miraculous intervention would produce waves of affirmation to his authority. Yet, in reply to the rich man,’ Jesus said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, the will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Instead, the nature of our faith is to be ‘certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews11:1). While the world looks for proof in signs and wonders, we should never forget that ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is in this power that he asks us to trust in him.

Third, we must embrace the sufficiency of God’s grace in all circumstances. In other words, it is imperative that the God of the mountaintop also be the God of the valley. The apostle Paul requested three times to be healed of his ‘thorn in the flesh. “The response from the Lord? “my grace is sufficient for you, from my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The sufficiency of God’s grace is found in that we can endure suffering just as Jesus endured the cross!

Jesus endured for the ‘joy set before him’ (Hebrews 12_2), and God’s grace allows us to do the same. Our affliction is purposeful and passing, and although we may not be able to understand it, we must cling to God’s goodness and follow the pattern of his Son.

So we are left with this: We do not know why God allows one to be healed and other not. We have all been touched by situations where God did not heal despite the faithful prayers of his people.

The words of Alister McGrath in Mystery of the Cross (Zondervan, 1990) are well posed: “Experience cannot be allowed to have the final word- it must be judged and shown up as deceptive and misleading. The theology of the Cross draws our attention to the sheer unreliability of experience as a guide to the presence and activity of God. God is active and present in his world, quite independently of whether we experience him as being so. Experience declared that God was absent from Calvary, only to have it’s verdict humiliatingly overturned on the third day.” As with the Cross, our darkest hour may be God’s finest moment. It may be there that he does his greatest work- albeit unseen to us. Thus instead of letting circumstances consume us, we are to be consumed with God. To that end, we pray without ceasing, trust in his sovereignty, and find comfort in his hope.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 

The Gift of Suffering by Octavius Winslow

Here is the whole sermon by Octavius Winslow, but note especially the poem at the end.
The Gift of Suffering by Octavius Winslow

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 

Key Verses About God's Role in Suffering.

Psalm 44:9-21 But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies. 10 You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us. 11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. 12 You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale. 13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us. 14 You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us. 15 My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame 16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge. 17 All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. 18 Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. 19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals and covered us over with deep darkness. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?

Job 1:21-22 The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Job 2:10 Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Lamentations 3:32-33 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. 33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 

Sarah Edwards and suffering

Just heard again yesterday the letter that Sarah Edwards wrote her daughter Esther on the occasion of Jonathan Edwards' death. It is simple, yet speaks to the value of knowing God's hand is in the suffering you experience:

What shall I say: A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it, He has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us! We are all given to God: and there I am and love to be.
Your ever affectionate mother,
Sarah Edwards

Friday, July 01, 2005 

How's your knee?

Yesterday I helped my father-in-law brand 185 calves. I hadn't been in the corral 5 minutes when a calf kicked me directly on my bad knee. I've already had 8 surgeries on that knee.

It is swollen today and won't bend to 90 degrees!

I was reminded by a radio preacher that "God won't bring anything into your life that he doesn't work for good."

Nothing altered the course of my life more than my knee injuries. The good God has brought from over 6 months on crutches is a complete redirection of my life. Without a hurt knee I'd be a gym rat (at almost 45 years of age), divorced and lonely. I'd have little if any impact for God's kingdom. A bum knee is a small price to pay for all the changes that pain has brought my way.