Do you remember Rabbi Kushner’s bestselling “When Bad Things Happen To Good People?” His thesis was that we must forgive God for losing control.
How different from the dialogue at the close of the book of Job.
So if God knows what He is doing, if He has not lost control, why do bad things happen to good people? Why does a godly man like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had the courage to take a stand against Hitler, die naked by hanging when victory is just about to be announced? He was but thirty-nine. Why are there martyrs at all?
Here are the questions for your next quiet times.
1. According to Job 38, what are some of the reasons we should respect that God knows what He is doing?
2. Sometimes God does deliver — and sometimes He does not. What do you learn from Hebrews 11:30-40?
3. What are the flaws in Rabbi Kushner’s argument?
4. What do you learn from other materials about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? If any of you have read his books, watched documentaries on his life, or have something encouraging about him to share — please do!
5. Bonhoeffer certainly left a legacy. His book, The Cost of Discipleship, has transformed so many lives. Certainly his model as well. His book on the Psalms is amazing, and has impacted me. Here is a quote from Bonhoeffer that I’d like you to meditate and comment on, because the next things we are going to do, in three days, in learn how to start praying the psalms.
It is a dangerous error, certainly very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. …Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty.
…If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For here we know that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, teaches us to pray. The words which come from God become, then, the steps on which we find our way to God.
Now there is in the Holy Scriptures a book which is distinguished from all books of the Bible by the fact that is contains only prayers. The book is the Psalms.
[i] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1970), pp. 9-13.
The first comment is actually from me! Your good questions and thoughts on the last post led me into this post. I want to reiterate my final comment from the last post, in case some of you didn’t see it and want to comment on it, challenge it, or probe it. And please do the questions above over the next three days.
No suffering happens without God’s will. And some suffering, I believe, is actually caused by God. Sometimes it is as discipline to the individual or to the corporate body, as we see again and again in the prophets — and sometimes, and I know this is a hard one, but I have come to believe, he actually leads a godly individual like Job or Horatio or Hosea into the path of suffering to strength the body of Christ. Horatio said he was honored to participate in Christ’s suffering and to build up the body of Christ — which he did. I love the “syllabus” analogy one of you made — one day, all mysterious will be made bright. For now, when we don’t understand, we cling to what we do know: That Christ hath regarded our helpless estate and hath shed his own blood for our soul.
The synopsis of Hosea is a precious jewel for me. I love a truth that resonates in my soul and adjusts my worldview. That was the icing on the cake of that study.
I would like to share some very deep water I fell into over the question of whether God “loses control”. This was when I realized that I am not too good at counseling.
When my older son was in 4th grade he made friends with a boy whose mother had died when he was 8. His father remarried and he came from Germany to my son’s class unable to speak English. They became friends. His (Till’s) father and stepmother had a son who became best friends with my younger son and this family has become very intertwined with mine. In middle school, when Till and his stepmother just could not live together anymore, he moved back to Germany to live with his grandparents. He visits occasionally and we began to have some good discussions about God. He had a very unusual worldview that I was beginning to see shift more in line with belief in God. He once made the statement that he understood that God did not have control of all things. Not recognizing where that came from, I countered with what I knew to be true, the He does indeed have control. To that he looked at me and said very quietly that in that case he was going to have to be very mad at God. I saw the depth of his pain and could say nothing more.
That was when I began to realize that God had put this family before me and that my heart could not rest until I saw His purposes realized in them. Now the only intact family left is the younger son and his mother who have moved away also. But we still have contact and I can see that each one has made steps toward God. For that I rejoice, but I will never forget that encounter. It is God who persuades. My job is to pray!
Wow, Anne! This example changes my initial reaction to one of the questions as I was quickly reading over them before “digging in.” What you wrote is good reminder for me that it is God who changes people’s hearts, not our arguments.
My initial reaction to #3 “the flaws in Rabbi Kushner’s argument. . . that we must forgive God for losing control” is that God doesn’t lose control, and that argument attempts to “shrink” God to what human minds, constrained by time, space, and human limitations, are able to comprehend. I still believe that, but with the example of the German family, my mind wandered to the German “thread” with Bonhoeffer as well as the impacts of the Holocaust on Jewish people, including Kushner. When I think of their suffering, as well as long-term oppression of various ethnic groups in the U.S., I become more understanding that some believe God lost control. I wonder if people’s hearts aren’t so desperate to know God, that sometimes we try to make Him fit our ideas of “what works.” For example, most people want to assume that God is good, and we do believe that. But God’s goodness necessarily leads us to questions about pain and evil in the world. And the pain and evil for some people groups has been horrific. For those who do believe in God’s existence, making sense of the world’s and individual suffering either leads to limiting God to fit human comprehension, or acknowledging that He is Lord of the Universe, both holy and loving, and has a perspective which we can only “see in a glass darkly.” I can understand why people reach inaccurate conclusions about God, because acknowledging His control forces us to let go of some of our (perceived) control.
Qu.1 Reasons that I should respect that God knows what He is doing.
1) I have no authority by which I may question anything that He has done. Job nor any other created being was present at creation and they have no knowledge of how God does anything. From creation to weather to how He communicates with and commands the animals He has created.
Science has always been devoted to discovery of the wonders described here. I recently read a book by a scientist who came to faith as a result of the wonders he discovered through scientific study. There is just no end to the wonders of God. I think I am getting off track here…
2)Therefore, I am in no position to advise Him about anything that He does.
Dee, you had me thinking about Dietrich Bonhoffer, so I started looking up things regarding him. I came across this link, which are exerpts from his book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” http://www.crossroad.to/Persecution/Bonhoffer.html
As I read through some of the exerpts, I thought this fit in with your first question about the reasons we should respect that God knows what He is doing according to Job 38. This is an exerpt from Bonhoffer’s, “The Cost of Discipleship.”
God speaking to Luther: “Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend—it must transcend all comprehension. … Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from His father… not knowing whither he went. … Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man… but I myself, who instruct you by my Word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all you choose or contrive or desire—that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple.” 103-4
Job 38, speaks of how God is so much more than we can comprehend or understand, wiser than our minds can even grasp, for this reason alone we should respect that He knows what He is doing.
I hope the link works, I’m not very techinical! =)
Teri, I really appreciate the quote you have typed in above. The link also but especially that quote.
Thank you for posting this Teri – I’ve been interested in Bonhoeffer for quite some time now and I’m looking forward to learning more about him.
Agreed!!! Thanks, Teri—the quote was excellent centuries-old instruction.
Just remembered something about Bonhoeffer. I recall hearing/reading that he had been in the U.S. — and people encouraged him not to go back to Germany because his life would be at risk. He chose to go anyway because he believed that’s where God had called him.
Renee, I just read something like that. This is what I read, from a quote from Bonhoffer:
“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. . . I shall have no right to take part in the restoration of Christian life in Germany after the war unless I share the trials of this time with my people.”
This is Dee on a different computer because I’m having a computer crash. Would love prayer!
1. We should respect that God knows what He is doing because
– We don’t know what He is doing (vs 1).
– We weren’t there when He created the earth, sky, seas (vs 4-11).
– Even after we arrived “on the scene,” we didn’t/don’t control day & night, light & darkness, stars, weather, meet food need of animals, and can’t comprehend the greatness of creation vs 12-41).
– What wisdom & understanding we do have is from God.
2. Heb 11:30-40 included a list of people, some of whom God delivered. Everyone in that chapter except Enoch experienced death eventually. I did notice that some of the people in that list had some serious sins described in the OT — and God transformed them into people of faith.
I carefully read through the chapter, attempting to classify, categorized or otherwise understand who was/wasn’t delivered (classification attempts didn’t work 🙂 ). In light of Bonhoeffer’s life, vs 35 was very meaningful: “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.” Learning from these examples, we have the responsibility to persevere.
Verses 39-40 provided me with the broadest picture. The author of Hebrews said that these faithful people from the OT didn’t receive what was promised, “since God had provided something better for us.” I’m assuming he is talking about Jesus, his death, resurrection, victory over sin and death. Then, at the very end of the chapter he wrote “that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” The “us” in there blows me away. Somehow, in God’s grand plan, we all are in this together, and Jesus is at the center. Does this mean that believers learning from God’s faithful followers in the OT is part of God’s plan to make them complete?? Or??
Renee, I too sense something in Hebrews that does not come to me very clearly. Some experienced victory and some torture and death but none of them received what was promised. Then I think of v.1 Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen and v.2 For by it our ancestors were approved. Then v.39 says that by faith they were approved but they did not receive what was promised. From v.40 I think that what was promised was being made perfect. By faith they could do all those great things but those things were not what made them perfect. It would seem to be Christ that would do that. It took just as much faith to wander about destitute, afflicted an mistreated as it did to conquer kingdoms and shut the mouths of lions.
Love your last sentence Anne! Great thought!
Good sharing. I’m reading and hope to be able to comment more on your answers later!
4. What I remember about Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
I read both Cost of Discipleship and Life Together over 20 years ago, so don’t remember a whole lot from the books themselves. However, I suspect that what I have heard about him since that time was “processed” through the filter of what I read then. I do know that Bonhoeffer was associated with the phrase “cheap grace.” I’ve often heard “cheap grace” described as when we sin easily or without caring because we know we will be forgiven. But Bonhoeffer was also interested in social justice; therefore, “cheap grace” also probably refers to when we don’t live out our faith.
Because Bonhoeffer was a pacifist, planning violent action against Hitler must not have come naturally to him. Also, much of the church in Germany had gone along with political leaders, including Hitler. Further, Hitler used religious language in many of his speeches. Interestingly, both “evangelicals” and “liberals” claim Bonhoeffer’s legacy — and rightly so, because he adhered to the Bible and advocated for social justice. Bonhoeffer’s example encourages me to look to Scripture for guidance, and not rely on “Christian” language used in politics (by any party) as a guideline for righteousness. I’m also encouraged because Bonhoeffer was so young. He was very intelligent and had completed a doctorate at young age; he was only in his 20s when he first spoke out against Hitler (reminds me of Daniel) — in a setting where most church leaders were not so bold. This is a good reminder that wisdom is from God and does not necessarily come with age or experience.
5. I’ve been thinking about the quote by Bonhoeffer — and am still not clear what I think! The quote reminds me that one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he taught them the Lord’s prayer. So, there is a precedent for teaching/learning how to pray. However, many of the psalms are similar to times when I have poured out my heart. That might have been because I was already familiar with some of the psalms; but it also seems like the Psalms include some “normal” human venting in the face of distress.
Dee, I’m so glad that we will be learning to pray the psalms. A couple of days ago, I was wondering if I really was praying — or just venting and assuming God would hear. In this study, you have anticipated my questions and concerns 🙂
Good Morning Ladies!
In reading your comments, I can see that we are all on the same page in that I don’t think it is possible that God could lose control. Yet, I do have to admit that the story of the flood in Genesis 6-8 comes to mind here, as it SEEMS like God was sorry that He allowed the flood to destroy life on earth. “The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21, NIV). So, I can see how people will get that idea that God might lose control.
Long ago, I came to the conclusion that while God is always “in control,” when it comes to man He is never controlling. In that He still gives man a free will to choose between what is right and wrong and then ultimately to choose Him. That’s what sets us apart from the animals and other life forms on earth. As we have this priviledge to choose and accept and even praise God in the midst of the trials that we don’t understand – for that is what Job and Horatio and Bonhoeffer has done.
I also came to the conclusion that there is only one reason that we, as Christians, have been left here on earth, after our conversion, instead of being taken up immediately into glory, and that is to be a witness (salt and light) to others to point people to Jesus Christ. As it seems that God has initiated man to participate in His plan of reconciling the world to Himself through Christ: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21, NIV).
On Question #1: In Job 38:4, we are reminded that we weren’t there when God laid the foundation of the earth – but there was One who was – the Lord Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3).
On Question #2: I enjoyed the dialogue between what Renee and Anne said, as my thoughts were similar so I won’t be adding anything here, I’m just standing in awe on those verses mentioned…
On Question #3: 2 Chronicles 19:7 says “Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” And Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” And Romans 9:14-16 says, “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Because God is who He is – He is the Potter and we are the clay – He doesn’t require our forgiveness, only our trust. Show us Your mercy…oh God!
Belinda, I liked what you said about God being “in control” but “not controlling.”
I think another reason we might be here is so that God can transform us, conform us to be like Jesus, and test/strengthen our faith and love for Him. The following verses indicate that some of what we experience on earth makes us “mature and complete.”
2 Cor 3: 18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
James 1:3-4 “because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Granted, He could just “complete” us if He beamed us up right away, too 🙂 (and sometimes I do think it would be nice to say “Beam me up God. Get me outta here!”) But that might lead us to seek Him for His “stuff” (or “fire insurance” as some say) rather than increase our love for and faithfulness to Him.
Very good sharing and thoughtful responses.
I’m greatly relieved my computer is fixed!!! I know in light of your loved ones dying and cancer and all that this was small — but I am headed out on the road to speak at Moody and at Prisons and it did have me quite stressed. So thanks for praying!
One of the reasons I think this discussion is very important is because each person who has been through tremendous suffering has to deal with the thought that perhaps if they trust God enough, then they will be delivered — and I think these passages show that simply is too simplistic. One day we really will understand, but I think that when your theology if off-base like that, you feel worse, you hate yourself, or you hate God — and the opening story from Anne showed.
What do you think?
This discussion is crucial. I hope it gets pounded into my head permanently! I’ve known plenty of situations where “in the heat of the moment” someone who should know better (and DOES know better, I think) wants so badly to relieve someone’s suffering (or their own) that they try to “fix” a situation and do much more harm than good. I’ve experienced some of the consequences of attempted “fixes” by people who really care, and those consequences were painful. During some difficult times, I’ve also tried to hard to “do the right things” to get better, that I didn’t rest in Jesus. I’m praying that God will use this discussion so that I am less likely to attempt to “fix” myself or someone with over-simplified “solutions.” One version of Scripture says “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Right theology allows us to rest in Him.
Yes Dee! I agree totally!! I was even told that if I trusted God enough or had enough faith then I would be healed. He would take this debilitating illness from me. That sent me to lots of soul searching in the Scriptures. Then the Scriptures opened me to the truth of it. That is what set me free from that false thinking.
I picked up the Cost of Discipleship today at the library. In just the Foreword and Memoir I can see what a tragic loss to humanity his death was. How helpful he would have been to the rebuilding of the church in Germany, but Germany did not receive that blessing…
I should not be surprised that we will begin to talk in earnest about prayer. In the quiet right after Christmas I picked up a book that has been on my list for several months. It is on prayer and in just a few chapters the fire was lit in me. I decided that I wanted to go to bed earlier and rise very early so I could have some significant time with God. I am still excited with it but I feel a little directionless. I feel like I spend a lot of time, which I do enjoy, but don’t get much done.
My initial thought about the quote is, if God has put a prayer book in the Bible, I should use it. Also it seems silly to think that my heart would just know how to pray. I guess I have always thought that it is the Holy Spirit within me that prays when I pray. Sometimes He does but honestly, sometimes I come out with half baked thoughts that never really say a whole lot. Or my mind just keeps wandering if I am by myself praying. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of good there, I just think it could be a lot better. God does things better. So He wrote a book on it did He?
There is a psalm that says to pour out your heart to God, so Bonhoeffer is not saying that is wrong — but we must not limit ourselves to that. I pour my heart out to God all day as I move about the house. But my prayer life is different now that I am praying the psalms.
We’ll look at it more carefully with the next post — but for now, I’d like your reflections on why we might need to pray the Words of God instead of just pouring out our hearts.
Ask God for wisdom. There are also some thoughts in the 1st chapter of The God of All Comfort.
If all I ever do is “pour out my heart” to the Lord, my faith is never built up and I can easily be persuaded to believe that what I am pouring out to Him is truth. But if I am praying His Word back to Him, then I am assured that it is truth, it is His will, my faith is built up, my hope is renewed, my trust increases, I am reminded of His character and that no matter what trials I may be facing: He never changes – He is good all the time – He is love – and nothing can separate me from Him!
Yes! Thanks for the encouragement, Paige, to have the Lord and His truth as the “standard” rather than my thoughts and emotions.
really loved that response Paige..
I was thinking along the same lines Paige. When we prayer His Word, we know we are speaking the truth. I think also when we are praying His Word, we are reminding ourselves, and in a sense speaking the truth to our own hearts. He is Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God! And this Mighty God, has made us promises, like He will never leave us, or forsake us – that He will be with us in trouble! He is our Shield, our Shelter, Our Fortress, Our Healer. He cares, not only for us but for others. His Word, His truth, gives us direction and comfort. I think of the verse in Psalms that say, Oh my soul, why are thou disquieted within me – Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Him! He is “all that!” And we speak peace to our hearts, reminding ourselves, who He is!
2. Sometimes God does deliver — and sometimes He does not. What do you learn from Hebrews 11:30-40?
It is true…but the why of it I do not know…I rest in the fact that He is God and I am not…I just want to have strong growing faith, no matter what.
Psalm 131:1-3 (NIV)
1 My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. (the why’s in Hebrews 11, the whys in my life…why some were delivered through rescue, while others were delivered through persecution and death)
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Picture the comfort of a Mother’s lap)
3 O Israel, (O Lynn) put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.
Psalm 112:7-8 (NIV)
7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
Yes, Lord, may this be true of us…Lord…thanks for drawing me to this question at this moment…when my daughter just called with some hard things going on in her life…we are trusting You!!!
5.”It is a dangerous error, certainly very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself. …Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty.”
That is interesting…Since taking Dee’s study A Woman of Moderation, I have been journaling…something I have always wanted to do, but have never accomplished and now I think I have just figured it out. When I tried to write out my prayers from out of my heart…it was hard, but now that I pray back the Psalms and any other scripture I am reading…well, I am able to journal…no matter the day. I continue to use her little chart in that book called ..Praying the Psalms…I do one a day…It has been so helpful to me.
Thank you Lynn, for that quote from Psalms 112:7,8. I am going to the doctor’s today and I have been a little nervous about it. This gives me hope. I am just getting over pnemonia, and I think I may have it again. I am going for a follow up appt. today, and a chest x-ray. Would love your prayers ladies, and thanks Lynn for that verse!
Teri, I will pray for you. I’m at work today for a long day so I can only bounce in and out when tim permits.
Thanks Anne! =)
I’m praying, too! And, me too, re: work today
Lifting a prayer for you too..I know this can be scary.
Keep your eyes on Jesus.
1-God is HUGE and we are not. We should never try to think we are in
the position of God. Yet often we lose sight and do think that way.
I loved reading Chapter 38 all the way to the end of Job. These are
Chapters that gave me much comfort in my trials. God is in control.
2-Those verses in Hebrews…lots of great and inspirational sermons
have been taught on those who succeeded. But I have not heard many if
any on those who waited in faith but died in waiting. That would be a
good thing to hear now and again because it is truth. We do not know
the entire plan like God does. We just have to trust.
3-Why did he die? Why Martyrs at all? Hebrews 11:39-40 is interesting.
39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received
what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so
that only together with us would they be made perfect. (ESV)
Interesting how they were commended to holding on to something they never
got to see on this side of Heaven. And that God planned something better for
us so that only together with us they be made perfect….Interesting thing
to do a little more study over.
4-need to read up on Bonhoeffer…
5-Interesting quote…Praying God’s word back to Him is indeed powerful.
I do not think that is the only way but a good way. I do see in the
Psalms how David does indeed pour out his heart to God openly. I am
excited to learn from that next.
I am learning alot from you ladies…Thanks!!
Oh and I wrote these up before reading comments from others..Interesting thoughts on Hebrews…
FAITH…that is what I hang on to….in all my crises it has been my faith in GOD that has gotten me through. When I was 25 and pregnant with my first child, I got malignant melanoma. Short story, my daughter is almost 30. Someone told me about the book, “When Bad things….anyway I read it, I remember talking with other Christians about it and I was able to seek God during that time. I didn’t feel the need to forgive Him. Many other “bad” things have happened in my life and each time I turn to God, scripture, song, prayer….it’s what gets me through. My prayer is for those going through the bad without GOD. I can’t imagine how on earth they do it. In answer to Job..God doesn’t expect us to understand our suffering here on earth just to have faith that He will keep His promises. I think the suffering only brings me closer to God…but don’t think I get through everything easily…NO…I cry out to GOD…Hebrews 11 talks about faith..Hebrews 12:1-4 follows this with fixing our eyes on Jesus…you will not grow weary and lose heart..in the footnotes: Suffering is the training ground for Christian maturity. Again…faith in God…as for praying the Psalms. Fellow believers have steered me there in the past, so I am ready to go there again…and continue on my journey.
Looking forward to praying through the Psalms. To me, it’s like being in a grand corporate prayer meeting, where our hearts are being connected with each other and with all the great saints of the past, present, and future who will and have done the same: with the Holy Spirit conducting the music – it’s like being being invited to participate in a heavenly orchestra of praise for the strengthening and refining of our faith. To pray the same prayers as King David, Jesus Christ, and so many others that were mentioned in the book of Hebrews and beyond is an honor and a priveledge beyond comprehension.
Dee, in reading the close of the first chapter of your book, I know that God has me participating in this study to strengthen me for the storms that are to come – as well as to teach me to be content in whatever season I am in. As I am not currently suffering the grief of an extreme loss (such as you have experienced with your husband) or a serious illness (as so many have shared) at this time, I have suffered the loss of broken dreams, friendships, and personal failures. And yet, I can see the storm clouds forming as my mother-in-law, my parents, my beloved grandmother, and many other loved ones are continuing to age with declining health, my kids have all flown the nest, and my oldest daughter has just enlisted in the Air Force. As you may or may not remember, when I was first introduced to your book – The God of All Comfort, I wrote to you about a strong fear that I had of losing my own husband (because I was currently reading about Ruth and writing about how her life has touched mine) when I realized that God is teaching me to simply enjoy every living, breathing moment that I have with my loved ones because I never know when God will take them home. So I wanted to mention how I feel about the upcoming Praying through the Psalms experience, as I believe that through them God will give me the strength to endure the upcoming trials – although my life does also have current trials that He’s teaching me not to downplay (which includes the recent loss of our dream house that we built, the preparation of filing of Bankruptcy, and the closing of our business of over 20 years, a drastic shift in my husbands career, and a refining my own as a writer). As He’s teaching me not to live for this world, therefore, I wanted to include that portion of your book that speaks to me “for such a time as this.”
On page 28-29, “Whatever your path of pain – bereavement, betrayal, or broken dreams – God is parting the heavens and coming to your rescue. If you have not yet faced a storm of hurricane strength, now is the time to draw closer to God, sinking yourself into the theology of His soverignty: before the hospital, before the betrayal, before the time of trouble comes. It is so much harder to baten down the windows in the midst of a hurricane.” – So thank you for this!
With that being said, this is a quote that I wrote in my journal last year and just posted on my facebook yesterday: “When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But he doesn’t put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead, he sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project – a mosaic that tells the story of redemption.” ~Ken Gire (The North Face of God)
May God sift through the rubble of our brokenness and give us raw material from Praying through the Psalms and living our lives for His glory to tell the story of redemption!
Belinda, I’m not surprised to learn that you are a write —because you use WONDERFUL illustrations (as in the first paragraph here, and I won’t easily forget super-heroes!)
I am enjoying all the comments and am looking forward to learning more about prayer.
When I was having migraine headaches I asked God why he didn’t seem to help me. I told him even I wouldn’t give my son a stone if he asked for bread. I was becoming angry and asked God to help me understand. God showed me that sometimes he heals the pain and sometimes he helps me through it, either way I can trust him. Now when I am in pain I ask God to heal me and if he doesn’t I thank him for helping me through it and I try to focus on his presence with me.
Please pray for the lady I mentioned earlier. I have taken care of her for almost 3 years. She is now on hospice care. She is losing her eyesight and very frightened. I stay the night tonight with her and want to bless her. She is a brand new Christian and loves it when I sing “It is well” to her. May I say how wonderful God’s timing is to have memorized the words to that song in this study.
Yes Kim praying for God to bring blessing, comfort, peace and healing to her through you. That He will draw her close to Himself help you to bless her with words, song and even silence.
Teri, how did it go at the doctor’s office?
Thanks so much for your prayers everyone – keep praying!! My chest x-ray revealed a large mass, so I had to go to get a cat scan – won’t know the results until possibly tomorrow! Keep praying! Thank you all!
Continuing to pray!
yes Teri-continuing to pray…
Psalm 56:3 (NIV)
3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Praying for the Lord to fill you with trust and peace…
Thanks all! Thanks Lynn, (Ps.56:3), these words speak to my heart! Thank you. We serve awesome God, full of lovingkindness and compassion!
I have been a “silent observer” just lately my dear sisters. I have been thoroughly enjoying each of your comments-thank you for your faithfulness and beautiful insights the Lord has given and you have shared….much like a beautiful patchwork quilt He is designing as we pray and seek Him in our lives! I am thrilled to be on this journey with you:) I have felt rather “stuck” or in a ( ) in my life for little while…I was in a car accident two years ago and have been dealing with some neck and back injuries since then. I am doing much better but realize now just how much anger and frustration over this “interuption” in MY plans for my life right now I have had. Belinda’s great quote from Ken Gire is so encouraging! thanks Belinda! I am looking forward to Praying through the Psalms too!
I’m still waiting for Dee’s book from Amazon. I wrote down some thoughts from the Cost of Discipleship that struck me.
1. pg 24 “The Christian must be ready for martyrdom and death. It is only in this way that a man can learn faith.” Wow! but I guess he would know. He must have seen growth in his faith. He would have to, to stand as he did.
2.pg 24 “when a man really gives up trying to make something of himself…throws himself into the arms of God…he wakes up in Gethsemane. How can a man wax arrogant…if he shares Christ’s suffering.” My understanding of this is vague. Does anyone have any ideas?
I’ve been without internet for 4 days. Finally figured out we got water in the router!
Anne, in answer to your question about the Bonhoeffer quote, I think it is important to consider what Christ’s suffering was. What was the “cup” that Jesus did not want to have to drink? I don’t think he was not wanting the pain and agony of crucifixion but that he did not want to take on the weight of the sin of the world, but he did as he was asked because he had surrendered his will to the will of his Father. When we surrender all … really surrender all of our will to God’s will … we, too, take on the wieght of the world. We are given eyes to see the sin of our corporate greed and selfishness. And once we “see” what our sin does to others, we no longer can arrogantly want more when so many have so little. I wish I could say that I speak from experience, but I do not have the courage to surrender so completely.
Dear Janet, I heard a sermon once that really stuck in my mind about what was was cup that Jesus did not want to drink? And this pastor said, the cup that the Lord did not want to drink was seperation from His father. For Jesus was never seperated from the Father. He had no sin like we do. He lived in constant intimate relationship with the Father. By taking our sins upon himself,and bearing the weight of our sin, and our guilt, for a moment would cause the Father to turn his face away. These were powerful thoughts that stuck in my mind.
Like Kim I’ve been more an observer, we’re in summer holidays here so with all my children at home it is difficult to give time this deserves but I give thanks too for the depth of sharing,of the love which is seen through the flow of comments. I really enjoy the different aspects to the comments. I am learning so much & I give thanks.
I am reading the book Dee and am finding it to be a soothing balm of healing used of the Lord to get to me settle back down beside him & to get close enough to hear his whispers. Early last year I was writing out the psalms when I didn’t know what to pray due to my thoughts being overwhelming so I am encouraged to do that again.
Thank you too Dee for sharing the rawness of your loss..if may say that. and giving a clear picture of the Lord never abandoning us to our own hearts no matter what type of loss it maybe.The picture of the deer bending to drink is in my mind, thanks for sharing your gift Dee & for pressing into the Lord in ways I don’t fully understand & leading the way in honesty before the Lord.
I have been really digging in to the things in this study.A lot to ponder and meditate upon.I have been silent with the comments thus far because I am listening to all that is being said and taught here.Since my husband of 39yrs passed away last Feb 6th. I have had my world shaken in more ways than one.God has been stretching me in ways I don’t have room here to explain.The one thing that I am learning here is,We all experiance the pain,sadness and sorrow and the hurt is the same.It is what we as individuals do with it that is different.I want to thank you Dee for this study.Your book is beautiful.I also want to thank all of you ladies involved with this blog your comments are giving me insight and much understanding of the way our Father cares for us.I will continue to pour my heart out to Him as well as pray His word over my life and all that pertains to it.
praying for you this day…
Hi Ladies. Just wanted to let you know that there is a free online magazine at http://www.FullFill.org that just came out with the topic of “Valleys.” It’s beautifully done and there are a lot of articles in it that deal with going through grief and difficult times. Here is an excerpt from the editor: “There’s a theme running through this issue: even in the darkest night we are never alone. The God who created us and loves us will sustain us through the most unimaginable experiences.” -Mary Byers (Letter from the editor).
So many great thoughts: here are a few among many I loved:
If all I ever do is “pour out my heart” to the Lord, my faith is never built up and I can easily be persuaded to believe that what I am pouring out to Him is truth.
Some of you wrote out Scriptures — so good. One you is praying a little chart through the Psalms.
Several strong testimonies.
And we’re hearing from some who have been silent.
A beautiful patchwork quilt.
Thanks for your kind comments on The God of All Comfort. Leaving this morning for Chicago — please pray for that broadcast and our tapings the next day.
Let’s go on!
Since we are just starting to learn how to pray through the psalms, this would be a good time to invite others to join in!
Praying Dee, that your understanding of God’s compassion will be communicated to hearts that are prepared to grow into all that He has for them. Last night I browsed your website and heard one of the Moody broadcasts. It was very good and I read a comment from a man talking about waterfall #30 something. I couldn’t remember the number but I found my own waterfall this morning, Psalm #37. I noticed that the Psalms have form to them, not always in the same order, seemingly all there. Sometimes they start with lament, some times with praise. There is also supplication. I do think the enemy is spiritual(Satan). When David had the chance to destroy his enemy, Saul, he would not do it.
Thinking out loud about Bonhoeffer’s comment, waking up in Gethsemane. Was it the actual suffering or the dread of it that Jesus suffered in the garden. It could have been the suffering because we really know nothing of Christ’s true suffering. Iv’e heard of many cases of mental and emotional anguish causing physical illness but never causing bleeding through the pores of the skin. That seems to be unique to Christ in Gethsemane. We can imagine the physical pain of the cross but I think there was much more.
Janet, I agree with you when you say you lack the courage to surrender completely. It is a solemn thing, reminding me of the video about silence and not speaking rashly. It may be something in which He leads. I see His glory as I look back to things in my life that I never would have chosen but which He was enough for me and I got through them. For you, He carried your son from the edge of death to true life in knowing Christ, but how great was your suffering in the process. Thinking about how our tears are precious to Him, something about collecting them in a bottle. This was the thought that came to me after I had brain surgery. The whole axis of my world shifted after that affecting so many people and especially my family. Afterward, when I looked back on the devastation, God showed me something that I can’t quite put into words but I will try. Not only is our suffering precious(in the sense of describing a jewel) in His sight but there is power in it. Spiritual power. I don’t have a clue how He uses it but I know He does and will.
Another thing happened during that time. There was a root of sin in my heart that grew and bore fruit. That sin was selfishness. It’s horrible and deep and ugly. At least now I can see it a little better and have some small victories over it.
Sorry if I am rambling. I’m trying to connect the dots.
I am beginning to enjoy learning some of the old hymns of the church. I did not go to church growing up so I am not real familiar with many hymns. Meditating on “It is Well with my Soul” this morning, I thought about the line, “though satan should buffet” and looked up the word “buffet” in the dictionary. It said “to hit with the hand or fist, to slap or punch. To beat back as by repeated blows. To struggle against.” How satan does try to beat us back by repeated blows and struggle against us growing closer to Jesus, and the image of a person just holding up his hands, trying to ward off the blows and protect himself from the assault, then the next line of the hymm, that we have this blessed assurance that Christ sees our helpless estate and comes to the rescue and does for us what we are helpless to do!