Monday, December 5, 2016

The Years the Locust Has Stolen

From the desk of the Tiger Lily.

It is a cruel thing when defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory, when hopes are dashed and dreams are crushed. Suffering is an inevitable part of the human condition, but it is not anything any of us signed up for in being born into this life.

The question is a constant source of frustration and sadness: Why does God Allow His Children to suffer? And secondarily, why does He Allow evil to triumph? I can give you several Problem of Pain reasons, but they only speak to the logic, not to the heart. And it hurts. "Why did God Allow this to happen to me (or to someone else)? Doesn't He Care? Why isn't He Doing something about it, Making things right?" People who ask these kinds of questions are not lacking in Faith, nor are they being disrespectful to the God Who is "full of Compassion; slow to Anger, and of great Mercy." God made the human intellect as well as curiosity and perceptiveness. He isn't afraid of questions. And anyone who is even remotely paying attention in this life should have wondered this at some point.

The story of Job is often used as an instrument to afflict the Children of God by people who apparently identify more with Job's friends, who enjoy falsely accusing others of things like sin or lack of Faith. Job's iniquity was not in his questioning what was happening to him. It was in Job trusting in his works and human righteousness instead of in the Omnipotence of God. (I'm sure the constant complaining also got on everyone's nerves, though. At some point, you just want to say, "Dude, it's time to sack up. Yes, your life sucks now. Welcome to what the rest of us have been going through for much longer than you.")

So what then? How are we to live in the Light of Christ when all around us is a boiling cauldron of endless toil, heart-rending anguish, and crushing despair? I will share with you the answers that have helped me in this constant struggle of "Why?". You might not like them, and they will only help to explain- in part- but will not take away the suffering. Only Jesus can Give you His Peace.

God Allows evil because it has its purpose in punishing evildoers and also in being an unwilling instrument of His Will, after whose accomplishment of destruction God Creates even greater Good (Genesis 50:20). Case in point: my murdered cat, Sherlock. If the stud cat who drove him off when we weren't around hadn't been on the place, our Puhntzee kitty which God Blessed us with wouldn't have been born. His death is still an open wound which will take a long time to heal (and possibly not until Jesus Comes back), but I love that little kitten dearly and would not have it any other way now, because I am confident Sherlock still exists and he is in a better place. (He actually came to visit today, as I was looking by the bedside for Puhntzee who was playing under the bed and saw a larger tuxedo cat for an instant, blinked, looked again, and it was gone.)

God Is the One Who afflicts you (Job 1:11-12, Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6), not directly, but through agents of evil, whose purpose as they see it is to steal, kill, and destroy like their master satan, but God Intends to Accomplish at least four things in this way:

1) God Refines you as gold is refined through the fire (Isaiah 48:10, Zechariah 13:9). Not comforting, and it would be great if there were another, easier way to do it. LC and I believe that before we all were born, at the very beginning of Creation, souls got to choose what they would be and do (Hebrews 4:3). Apparently the end-times Children chose to be greater lights (Philippians 2:15, Daniel 12:3), and in order for diamonds to shine their brightest in reflecting the Light of Christ, they must be free of impurities.

2) God Wants a deeper relationship with you. There are no deep relationships that have not weathered any hardships. He Desires for you to cast your burdens on Him (1 Peter 5:7), to go boldly before the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16), to ask in belief that you shall Receive (Matthew 11:22, Mark 11:24) with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), to do all things to the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), in short to live and move and have your being with and in Him. "But can't I get to know God better in eternity?" Yes, you can and will. However, it's going to be extremely difficult now to serve God in every situation when you don't know what He wants you to do, because you don't talk with or listen to Him.

As with all relationships, you get out what you put in. His part was Sacrificing everything, both His Dearly Beloved Son as God the Father, and His Position in Heaven as well as His very Life as God the Son. Our part is to trust Him Knowing what is best for us at each stage of our lives and to try to glorify Him in taking up our cross and dying to self every day (Luke 9:23). He Promises that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). In some ways it is like an addict giving up a useless life of sitting there endlessly enslaved to something which destroys people for a Life full of Purpose, Destiny, and Adventure.

3) God Wants to Grow your Faith. Like anything else that is living needs the right environment to develop, the mustard seed of Faith won't grow except in the soil of adversity. It takes time and participation on our part in order to develop. Faith is the Gift of God (Romans 12:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:2), just like everything else that is good comes from Him, but it is up to us to exercise that Faith, not to leave it in the giftbox (James 1:3, 2:18). Trials and persecution in this life are excellent opportunities to do so, and they are also our opportunities to give glory to God. There are only so many of them that will come up, and once they are gone, they are gone. So, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

4) God Has Given us a share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10, 1 Peter 5:9). It doesn't seem very desirable to be shunned, treated badly, and looked down upon by the rest of the world simply for following Christ, but that is one way in which we are Blessed for choosing Him (Matthew 5:11, 1 Peter 2:19).

This is probably going to sound harsh, and I most assuredly speak to my own failings in railing like a spoiled child when I pray at times, but isn't cheerfully undergoing a transient season of suffering, which is necessary, and which God Causes for my own good, the very least I can do to thank Him in some small measure for His Infinite Grace and Mercy towards me? I know fully well where I would be at this moment if not for Him Loving me enough to Rescue me from that path of destruction I was on.

What about those things we will never be able to experience in heaven, like finding and spending the rest of our lives with that one perfect person God has Made for us who we Love more than anyone else on earth? Paul spent his entire ministry longing for a wife while he spread the Gospel to the furthest ends of the earth. Seems kind of a small thing to ask of God for a decent person to be partnered with who will be a true friend and who you can serve God with. I can't even begin to justify it, because it IS an awful thing to be lonely, and I struggled with it for decades. I can only direct you, once again, to Jesus, Who gave up the possibility of a wife and children when He Sacrificed His life for us. And because He Sacrificed everything, God Gave Him everything, both things and people (Luke 10:22, John 13:3, John 10:28-29).

Another thing both LC and I believe, nothing you can find "supported by the Bible" in the covers of God's revealed Word, just a personal conviction of one of the mysteries not yet revealed to everyone by God, is that everyone has a soul mate, first in the Unbeforetime, and then again afterwards when we are Grown by God to our fullest potential. Most are not reunited with theirs until after death. It will be something so far beyond the type of love we experience here on earth that earthly love pales in comparison, just like "puppy love" pales in comparison to a real first love. And if we're wrong and it's not a soul mate for everyone, I am certain it will be something even better than most extreme limits of anything you or I could possibly imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).

I can't promise this Life of following Jesus will be pleasant most of the time, or easy. I can promise it will definitely be worth it in the end, because He has Promised that the suffering and affliction SHALL end someday, forever, and even more, to more than make up for all the evils afflicted on us in this life, if only we stay the course and hold on to Him (Psalm 37:7 and 90:15, Joel 2:25, Nahum 1:12, Zephaniah 3:19, Mark 10:30, Romans 8:17, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 and 12:26, 2 Corinthians 1:6 and 4:17, Philippians 1:29, 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Timothy 4:10, 2 Timothy 2:12 and 3:12, Hebrews 6:15/11:25/12:1/13:3, 1 Peter 2:20/3:14/3:17/4:15-16/4:19, Revelations 2:10).

God Bless all of His Children with all the best He has planned for them at the right time, in Jesus' Name Amen and Amen.