Friday, October 16, 2009


When I was in college a girl I loved went to study in Israel, found another guy, and broke my heart. I was going to propose to her when she came back for the fall quarter. For years I longed to go to the mission field but I was never accepted by any missions boards. After I was married for just over two years my wife developed a brain tumor that finally took her life twenty years later. I was turned down as a church planter when I graduated from seminary because the denomination in which I wanted to serve would not accept my eschatology. I was brought up on heresy charges by people in my church because they would not accept that my Calvinist convictions were orthodox. A close friend of mine stole a significant amount of money from my wife and me promising to put it in a safe investment; I never saw it again. I lost all my equity in the last two houses I’ve sold. I had cancer this year.

There are preachers out there who would say that all these things happened to me because I either had unconfessed sin in my life or because I lacked faith. There are many Christians who think life is supposed to run smoothly because they have committed their lives to Christ. Many believe that if we pray with enough faith God will give us the health and wealth we desire. They say that God wants his children to be happy and bad things aren’t supposed to happen. When they encounter difficult trials and tragedy they become derailed and wonder what went wrong with their Christianity. Satan must have done this because God would never do anything like this!

Our Lord threw himself on the ground in Gethsemane and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him . And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:42-44)

Jesus asked God to set him free from the road to the cross. The Father refused his request and insisted that his will be done, not Jesus’. An angel visually appeared to Jesus and strengthened him but that did not relieve Jesus’ agony. He continued in anguish. The angel’s visit did not relieve his agony. Jesus was under such strain that his sweat ran as blood.

What would those TV preachers say about this? Jesus must have lacked faith or the Father would have answered his prayer. After all, God wants us to be happy. There must have been something seriously wrong with Jesus if an angel couldn’t relieve his pain. Must be a lack of faith. And true believers have so much faith that they don’t experience the kind of stress Jesus had. I know they would never admit to believing anything like this but their teaching contradicts their denials.

Christians suffer. God wills that Christians suffer. He does not intend for our lives to be carefree and problem free. He puts things in our lives that cause us grief and produce stress. Why? Because we have been called to walk in the footprints of Jesus.

What do you think?

(To those of you who have been looking for a new post here at ShilohGuy, I want to apologize. The last couple of weeks have been phenomenally busy. I was out of town to attend classis meetings for both the RCA and the CRC. And I have been sick in bed most of the current week. Sorry for my failure to write. I’m sure you understand. Thanks.)


At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings in Christ, David! Wow! God has sure brought you through a lot! Your life story reminds me a lot of Job's life of calamity and faith in God. Yes, there are fair weather Christians and many who would echo the words of Job's "friends" when another is going through a crisis. But I thank God that, like Job, you are able to say of God, "Though He slay me, yet I will Trust in Him." (Job 13.15a)

At 6:34 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Thank you for your kind comment, my friend. I don't feel like I can take any credit for trusting in the Lord through hard times. The first words that came into my mind upon reading your comment were the words of Peter in response to the question of Jesus, "Will you too now leave me?" "Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life!"

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Anne of The House said...

I so agree with you Shiloh Guy! God wills us to suffer.

I also think though, that we christians sometimes overspiritualize suffering...
Someone quoted Amy Carmichael to me once during a very dark time in my life:
(not exact) "Embrace the suffering"
As though suffering and pain are good. That's like saying "go to the edge, to the dark side...gaze...embrace it for a while. When we embrace what is truly horrible-we stop looking at good and then become swept up in bad thinking. In our minds, the bad can become bigger than God. And we lose our peace.

So what should we think about suffering when we're in it? (I believe) Only that God is with us and He will work it out for His gory and our good. And that God is good. And that God is good! And, also, that God is good.

"If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things...and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil.4:8)

Real suffering damages. Real suffering burns deep into the heart...makes us question everything.

We can help our brothers and ourselves by keeping our focus on the truth while acknowledging the pain. That it hurts. (Yes, that God has willed this pain) but that He is good. He is good and that is all.

Someday we'll see....

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Anne, as always, your comments bring out far more truth from my posts than I even knew was in them! I know you have had a great deal of suffering in your life, suffering other people have not seen, and yet you can say that God is good and he is also good and he is ultimately good. You are his blessing to me!


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