Category Archives: God’s sovereignty

Revenge Is Sweet, Or So They Say

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That I can remember, no one has ever asked me if I’ve wanted to exact revenge against my father for everything he did to me when I was a child. But if anyone were to ask me, my answer would be an unqualified, categorical no.

I don’t remember ever wanting revenge against him or any of the people who hurt me. It’s certainly not because I’m holy or anything like that. I’m definitely no saint. I mess up on an extremely regular basis, and 1 John 1:9 is a well-worn and much-loved verse for me,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, NKJV.

Another favorite, and something I cry out to God all the time, is,

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

Thankfully Romans 7:24 is followed immediately by 7:25,

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. ~ Romans 7:25, NLT.

And again straightaway after that comes Romans 8:1,

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1, NLT.

I apologize for that little rabbit trail, but I’m trying to make a point. I am a sinner because I was born in sin, and because I was born into a world that belongs to Satan. Thank God, Jesus rescued me out of that world by dying on the cross for me, so that now I’m forgiven, and I no longer belong to the devil, I belong to God. But I still commit sins, even though I desperately don’t want to. That was my whole point in quoting the above verses.

Avenging a wrong committed against someone is something that really should be left in God’s hands. God is the only one who knows what really happened, the only one who knows the true motivations of the people involved, and the only one capable of dispensing perfect justice to all the parties connected to the situation.

Seems to me, if someone gets revenge, they’re trying to get justice for a situation on their own, taking control of it out of God’s hands. And while God does know all the facts, the person taking justice into their own hands will only know about the situation from his own perspective, which will always be skewed, because there’s no way any human being can know everything about what happened. Only God can know that. That’s why God says,

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. ~ [quoted from Deuteronomy 32:35, NLT]; Romans 12:19, NLT.

I think people take vengeance into their own hands because they get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God to do it (if they believe He exists), or the legal system (if they trust it). Nowadays people don’t trust the legal system, or if they do, it moves too slowly for them, so they decide they have to do it for themselves.

If you think the legal system is slow, God is slower. You have to wait for the person you want justice for to die before you’ll get it. That’s why I say people get impatient. They don’t want to wait for God’s justice. Now, sometimes God will act through the legal system, but oftentimes He chooses to wait until the Final Judgment after the person dies.

I don’t know why that is, and it’s probably not for us, or specifically me, to know, at least not this side of Heaven ~ God’s sovereignty, and His higher ways (Isaiah 55:9-10), and all that ~ though sometimes I really wish God would clue me in.

But He doesn’t, and I have to trust ~ I choose to trust ~ that God is better at being God than I am, something I already knew, by the way, as I wrote about in a previous post (I Would Make a Terrible God). Because, as I said in that post, being God is God’s job, not mine.

So I’ll let God do the avenging for me. I’ve done the best I can to forgive those who need to be forgiven, and certainly there are many on whom I could get revenge, but I firmly believe that’s God’s job, as borne out by Scripture. I’ll let God be God and do my avenging for me. It makes my life much easier. I already have enough to think about without adding that!

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ~ Matthew 6:34, KJV.

I Yell At My Television Set

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Yup, I do, sometimes even loudly and passionately. I do it because I have all this anger and rage that needs an outlet. So instead of taking it out on myself, which would be completely inappropriate, I yell at the people in whatever TV program I’m watching. Of course, a lot of the shows I watch are about crime and all it’s ramifications, which is already a sensitive subject for me, so I have lots to yell about.

One of my favorite TV channels is Investigation Discovery, which is a channel of nothing but reality TV shows, and all the shows are True Crime stories. I’ve had a fascination for all things criminal for as long as I can remember, I think because I’m perpetually trying to understand what made my father tick, and more to the point, what made him do all the terrible things to me that he did. I think if I can understand why he did it, it will be easier to forgive him.

So I spend a lot of my time while I’m watching TV either talking to the people in the shows I’m watching, or yelling at them. If I can see that they’re going into a dangerous situation, I’ll yell at them to go a different direction, or tell them not to answer the door because the bad guy is there with a gun to kill them.

Logically, I know they aren’t real-life people, but in my imagination they’re as real as if they were standing in my livingroom. I may see them as substitutes for interactions with real people, and the thought occurs to me that interactions with imaginary people such as I’ve described are safe, because I can program in advance what people will do and say, and they will only utter what I tell them to.

The frustrating thing is that the people on TV never say what I want them to say. If they would only say what I think they should say, the story would have a much better outcome ~ at least it seems that way to me.

If only life were as easily controlled as that! Even more, if only you could dominate God like that! But then, if you could, God wouldn’t really be God, would He? I wouldn’t want to be able to rule over God. That would make me God, and I’ve already figured out that I would make a terrible God (see my previous post, I Would Make a Terrible God). God is far bigger and much better than anything human beings try to make Him out to be, and that’s the way it needs to be. Any time human beings try to put God in a box, it won’t be a box that He designed, and He won’t stay there.

So maybe the people on TV not doing what I want them to is a metaphor for the way God works in my life. Hmm… I only just thought of that. I can’t control what the people on TV are doing, and I certainly can’t control God, nor do I want to. I guess that’s the difference. I’d like to be able to control what the people say and do on my TV shows, but I don’t want to control God.

I love God just the way He is: majestic and beautiful and wonderful and amazing and marvelous and unfathomable and best of all, mysterious.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT.

No More Secrets

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I’ve always had an extremely difficult time talking about being raped, especially if I’m talking about it with a guy. There’s something about saying the words that makes it too real, and makes me terrified it will happen again. So I never talk about it with anyone, not even with God, though technically I don’t need to talk about it with Him, because He already knows about it, and He knows my needs before I ask,

When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! ~ Matthew 6:7-8, NLT.

Even though I don’t need to talk about it with God because He already knows about it, I feel like I should talk about it with Him. It’s a matter of trust rather than foreknowledge.

The real reason I don’t like talking about being raped with God isn’t because I know that He already knows about it. It’s because I have a hard time trusting Him with it. He allowed me to be raped the first time, and not just once, but multiple times, by the one person you’re supposed to be able to trust in all the world ~ your own father. So if He allowed it once then how do I know He won’t allow it again? You know, God’s sovereignty and all that.

But then there’s the whole thing about Harry’s free will, and here’s where I get confused. God is sovereign, but He can’t go against a person’s free will, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. So He couldn’t go against Harry’s free will. But what about my free will? Harry chose to rape me and beat me within an inch of my life, and I had no choice. I guess from a human standpoint, the one who wins is the one who’s the strongest, and that definitely wasn’t me. It was Harry. He was bigger than me, and stronger, so he was always able to overpower me. It definitely wasn’t fair, but it’s the way things were, and I was stuck with the consequences.

So where does my free will come in? My will comes into play once I reach adulthood and the abuse stops. At that point I can choose what I want to do with what’s been done to me as a child. I figure there are a number of different paths victims of child abuse and child sexual abuse can take. You can become bitter and seek revenge on your abuser ~ never a good idea as far as I’m concerned. It’s been proven that holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness will make you sick. Plus, the Bible says that God won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~ Matthew 6:14-15, NLT.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t ever want to be in the position where God is refusing to forgive me because I haven’t forgiven someone for something they did to me, when all I have to do is forgive that person.

Now you might say to me, But you don’t know what they did to me! It’s true, I don’t, but I’ve had to forgive people for some pretty egregious and horrific things that were done to me. Just read Am I Afraid of Anger, or Do I Get Angry at the Fear? and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I wasn’t able to forgive anyone on my own. I could only do it with God’s help, but that’s the point. I had God’s help, and with His help it was entirely possible. Without His assistance I could never have gotten it done. Not ever. But with God all things are possible (see Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27).

I’ve had a great deal of time to think this through, and I spent years being enraged at God in the process, because I couldn’t understand why He would allow me to be abused so horrifically. It just didn’t seem fair to me. Why was Harry’s free will acknowledged and allowed to run roughshod over me ~ another human being with a will supposedly just as free as Harry’s ~ while my will was ignored and tromped on at Harry’s expense and for his pleasure.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that my view of the situation is extremely limited, and I need to trust God, Who can see the whole picture. I need to trust that He can see the whole picture, and that He has everything well in hand,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV.

It’s taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I can release it into God’s capable hands ~ and recognize that He is able to take care of it, and that He does know what He’s doing ~ and He knew what He was doing all along, even when He allowed the abuse to happen in the first place, though I still have a hard time with that idea. But if I realize that He created me with the strength to handle it, with His help, then I can ~ sort of ~ see that He knew what He was doing from the beginning.

Once I can allow myself to trust God, and I mean really trust Him down to my deepest core, and with my innermost secrets ~ which He already knew about anyway ~ then it will be easier to allow myself to trust other people. At least I think this is true. I know I’m getting better at trusting McT, and at talking about hard stuff with him, and maybe that’s an extension of trusting God more.

I hope so!

No more secrets is my goal, since God knows them all anyway.

Resolution? What’s a Resolution?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I never have. I don’t do it because I know I won’t keep them, and I don’t want the sense of failure that I know I’ll feel once I’ve fallen short of the resolutions I didn’t keep.

What I do instead is commit in my heart to work each and every day to grow in the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God. This means I cultivate a discipline of daily reading and study in God’s Word, as well as doing my best to remain in fellowship with Him by praying constantly, which I think of as simply talking to God. I don’t always get the reading done, but it’s constantly on my mind, and I use Scripture all the time in different contexts. So even if I’m not actively reading and studying my daily chapters, I’m still wrestling with interpretation and meaning as I’m talking about it with others, or posting verses on Twitter or Facebook.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV.

And probably more important to me than anything, I pray for God to continue healing me more deeply and fully from my childhood.

I don’t want to sound like I’m holier-than-thou by talking about the way I worship God, because I most assuredly do not see myself in that way. I’m well aware of my sinfulness and need for a savior. But this blog is about my progress as God heals me from my past, and it’s also about my life with God as I learn about Him and grow to know Him more and more deeply. And as such, if I don’t talk about myself and my life, and what I’m doing to grow and heal, then it might be a little weird, seems to me.

I could be wrong about that. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but I don’t think so.

But that’s neither here not there, because, as I’ve stated, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. And thus far, I’m doing well. Exceedingly well, in fact. This year I’ve had some pretty significant victories, the most exciting of which is that I’m no longer hitting myself. Yup, the self-abuse has stopped. For good.

You can’t imagine how amazing and marvelous and exciting and wonderful that is to me! I struggled with this problem on a daily basis for about forty-five years, and I had no control over it. The least little frustration or the silliest mistake would cause me to fly off the handle and hit myself or scratch myself badly enough to draw blood. There were times where I gave myself a black eye, and the scratches on my face or arms looked like I’d been attacked by a wild animal.

It was incredibly embarrassing, because it was only infrequently that I didn’t have some kind of injury on my face or body, and they were almost always visible. If I was able to go a whole week with no self-abuse I would begin to hope it had gone away, and I constantly prayed to God to take it from me. I also constantly repented for doing it in the first place. Basically I felt like I was living in Hell all the time, and I couldn’t tell anyone about it, because it was just too humiliating.

Then about six months ago, at the end of June, it stopped. I don’t remember what was going on around that time, and no one prayed for me about the self-abuse, but I had continued to beg God for freedom from it. I was playing my online games, mainly June’s Journey and a couple of others, something I talked about in a previous post (Go To Forgiveness, Go Right To Forgiveness. Don’t Pass Through Guilt, Don’t Go To Condemnation.), and one day I realized that the frustration of making mistakes as I played no longer bothered me. I was able to tell myself that the mistakes didn’t matter, that it was just a game, and so what if I made a mistake.

So what, indeed! I finally realized that, given what happened to me throughout my childhood, anything that occurs now is so insignificant by comparison as to be irrelevant. Seeing my life from that perspective makes it so much easier to understand in terms of the overarching theme of God’s loving involvement and protection, while placing the day-to-day events where they belong ~ in the larger tapestry of my whole life, with no single occurrence assuming greater importance in God’s overall scheme of things.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~ Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

I love this verse! The word “masterpiece” in the Greek is ποίημα or poiēma. Most other translations use the word workmanship, while the NIV uses handiwork. We get our English word poetry from it.

So my life is God’s masterpiece, a beautiful tapestry of His design, while individual day-to-day events are threads woven in, but they don’t influence the overall outcome, unless it’s to enhance the beauty even more. And it’s all in God’s hands and according to His design.

So this was my big victory for 2019, and I’m grateful every day for it. To be free of something that had tormented me for about two-thirds of my life is a truly huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It was a bondage that made me feel like Sisyphus forever having to push his boulder to the top of the mountain, only to watch it roll to the bottom, where he’d have to start all over again.

I can’t thank God enough for releasing me from that oppression!

I’m eagerly looking forward to another resolution-less year of knowing God more profoundly, loving His Word more deeply, and receiving more healing at His hands. Plus I’m hoping to lose some weight, because I got this cool machine called a StreetStrider, which is an elliptical that can be used both indoors and outdoors. I’m also considering looking for a job, maybe maybe just maybe, though that’s pretty scary.

Just means more healing is needed…

Ever onward with God!!

I Won’t Hide From Evil and Neither Will God

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There’s a lot of beauty and good in the world, but there’s also a whole lot of evil. And while I think it’s good to focus on the good and the positive so that God is glorified, I also believe that to ignore or deny the evil that’s in the world would be foolish, and would actually glorify the devil more than if we worshiped him outright. A quote from C.S. Lewis might explain this better than I can,

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. ~ from the Preface of The Screwtape Letters*

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: The Bible says in the Book of Psalms that God has numbered our days,

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. ~ Psalms 139:16, NLT.

I understand that to mean that God knows what will happen every day of my life, from the day of my birth clear through ’til the day of my death. What I’ve been thinking about is the day of my death, or more generically, the day of every person’s death. What I’m curious about is, does God ordain how a person dies, or just that he dies on a particular day? I mean, there are an almost infinite number of ways someone can die.

The reason I’m asking this is because when someone is murdered, (unless they’re killed in their sleep so they aren’t aware and wake up dead), they must experience extreme terror and horror right up to the moment of dying. I’m trying to understand what might be going through their mind during those hours and moments of extremity leading up to the moment of their death.

I’m also trying to understand how God fits into the picture. If someone is killed in a way that makes their last hours and moments full of mind-numbing, heart-stopping, hope-stealing and screaming terror that was caused by the person who murdered them, was that method of death ordained by God? I find it difficult to understand how God would want someone to experience that kind of negativity right before they die. If they’re already saved and they die like that, at least they have the hope of heaven. But if they’re not, in the minutes and hours, and sometimes even days, of terror and horror and fear before they’re murdered, how can they be expected to think clearly enough during that time to be able to call out to God for salvation?

Scripture says that God is both a just God and a merciful God. I’ve heard it said that since He’s both just and merciful, if someone dies in an unsaved state, He will take them where they’re at spiritually, and judge them based on their works. I don’t know how true this is, or if it’s true at all, but that’s what I’ve heard. A scriptural basis for this might be found in the Book of James,

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. ~ James 2:13, NKJV.

Given the scenario I’ve described above, where someone’s ability to seek God is severely compromised, and the best he or she can do is cry out for help, God’s mercy is what is most desperately needed, not His judgment.

I could be wrong on that, but I hope I’m not.

 

*C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters, HarperSanFrancisco, ©1942, Harper edition 2001, p. ix.

I Would Make a Terrible God

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I would not want God’s job, not for any amount of money or the most amazing and desirable gift. For one thing, I would make a lousy God. I just don’t have the wisdom needed to do all the things God has to do, and make all the decisions He has to make. I have a hard time managing my own affairs, much less trying to oversee anyone else’s life.

For another thing, I wouldn’t want the responsibility. God must have incredibly thick skin to do what He does all day long without caring what people think of Him. I mean, He wants people to love Him because He wants a relationship with them, but He does what’s best for each person without regard for whether they’ll be happy about His decisions or not. There aren’t too many people who’ll be happy about having to suffer, but sometimes that’s what’s needed for the development of a person’s character. And I’m convinced that God is much more interested in our character growth and maturation than He is in whether we’re happy or not.

I realize that makes Him sound like a bit of an ogre, and He’s not. He’s a good God who loves His creation. The Bible says God is love,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. ~ 1 John 4:7-8, NKJV.

It doesn’t say that God feels loving, though I’m sure He does. It says He IS LOVE. In other words, love is a part of who He is, not just how He feels. There’s a difference, and it’s reflected in His actions, as it speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV. 

You could substitute the word God everywhere that the word love is used in that passage, because in essence they’re synonymous words for the same thing, because, as I quoted above in 1 John 4:8, God is love.

God feels intensely and deeply, but He’s not moved by His feelings, nor is He ruled by them. Feelings are notoriously unreliable, and if you let yourself be ruled and led by them your life will be stormy and unstable.

This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way, and I’m still learning it. It’s not an easy one to grasp, but I’ve discovered that if I found my life on the solid rock of God’s Word, my existence, both day-to-day and longterm, is much more peaceful, joy-filled, and productive than if I live according to the shifting sand of my emotions. I still stumble, of course, but it’s much easier to pick myself up and go on, because I can always call on God. 

Just so long as I remember that being God is God’s job, not mine. And I would make a terrible God anyway.

I’ve Made Peace With My Past

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I probably could have broken this into two posts, but it felt like it was important to keep it in one piece. So here goes…

I’ve spent the majority of my life hating and regretting my life, and wishing I’d been born to different parents, in a different family, in a different life than the one God gave me. I was also angry, even enraged, at God for placing me in my family of origin, because I felt like He’d done it on purpose, especially considering that He knew what would happen to me in that family. The Bible says God knows the end from the beginning,

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” ~ Isaiah 46:9-10, NIV.

What that said to me was that God knew from the beginning of time that He would place me in a family where I would be abused within an inch of my life, where my mother would try to kill me during my infancy, and my father would play Russian Roulette with his revolver between my legs to threaten me if I told anyone what he was doing to me. Yet He still chose to put me in that family, knowing in advance the terror and horror I would experience throughout my childhood, and knowing as well that I would barely survive to adulthood.

I could not understand how God could do this to an innocent child! What had I ever done to deserve this?

What I couldn’t appreciate or comprehend at the time was that the being I knew as God was completely different from the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible was who God really was. The one I knew as God was actually patterned after Harry, my biological father. That God was mean, impatient, egotistical, angry, abusive, a rager, selfish, violent, and He hated me. That God had told Harry many times to abuse me and rape me because He, God, hated me.

I didn’t know it then, but that God was actually the devil working through Harry, trying to obliterate me, because God, the real God, the God of the Bible, had a plan for my life, and the devil didn’t want God’s plan to come to pass.

The devil tried hard, to be sure. As I stated above, My mother tried to kill me a number of times during my infancy by drowning me in the bathtub, or suffocating me with a pillow, but was unsuccessful because one of my alters, Deadsally (I had to become multiple in order to survive), would come out each time and make me stop squirming so my mother would think she’d succeeded and stop trying.

Also, Harry started threatening to kill me when I was about two, as I related above, and in addition, I tried suicide nine times as an adult. Fortunately none of those attempts succeeded either.

I’m so glad that God is more powerful than anything the devil can do!

I spent a lot of years feeling angry at God for what I endured, because I didn’t understand that God, being God, and therefore sovereign, can do whatever He pleases, and even though His plan might look perfectly terrible to us, ultimately it’s a good plan. It’s all a question of His sovereignty over my life, and I have to be willing to let Him have control,

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? ~ Romans 9:20-21, ESV.

I have to trust that God knows more and better than I do, and I’m so grateful for God’s kindness and patience with me as I learn to trust Him. And I’m so grateful that He was willing to patiently wait for me to find out that He’s the exact opposite of everything the devil and Harry made me believe He was, and is.

I discovered that God was a good, kind and loving God over a period of years as I read the Bible from cover to cover several times, and then allowed people to pray for me, and then, finally, over the last four years, I took some online classes through Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). The courses I took were through RZIM’s Academy, and they were wonderful. They helped me to increase in boldness, and become less fearful when talking to other people about Jesus ~ something that had always been a huge problem for me. They also helped me to be more logical in my thinking.

The class that helped me the most, however, was the one called “Why Suffering?” This course was life-changing for me, because it helped me to see my childhood in a whole different light.

The class presented a new theory of theodicy that really helped me to see things from a new and different perspective. The term “theodicy” was coined by Gottfried Leibnitz back in 1710 to vindicate the existence of an all-good, all-powerful God given the presence of evil in the world.

In the “Why Suffering” course, one particular theory of theodicy was proposed, called the Non-Identity Theodicy Theory. This theory was originally put forth by a man named Vince Vitale, who did his PhD dissertation on it, and the “Why Suffering” course was kind of formulated around it. I’m glad it was, because learning about it set me free.

The basics of Vince Vitale’s theory are that when I think about myself in the world of suffering that we all live in, I’ve often wished myself to be in a world with much less suffering. And then I’ve thought, “Why didn’t God create me in that other world where there’s much less suffering instead of this suffering world that I’m actually in?” But wishing to be created as me in that other fantasy world with no suffering is actually a philosophical and biological impossibility.

I know this because I’ve wished for this very thing with my whole heart many times. Why couldn’t I have been born into a different and better family with parents who loved me and didn’t beat the crap out of me every time I turned around?

As a result of taking the “Why Suffering?” course, I’ve come to realize that my wish, wholehearted as it was, was an impossible one to grant.

Rats!

The reason was all too logical. If I was born into a different family with different parents, I wouldn’t be me, because I would have different DNA. Once I saw that, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to come from a different family, because, while it meant that I wouldn’t have suffered the hell of my childhood, it also meant that I wouldn’t have the close relationship with God that I do.

And my relationship with God has become the greatest and sweetest treasure of my life, one that I wouldn’t give up for anything, not even at the cost of gaining a better childhood with better parents.

I’m reminded of the passage in Mark’s Gospel,

‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age…along with persecutions ~ and in the age to come eternal life.’ ~ Mark 10:29-30, NIV.

Author and Finisher

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I love the phrase, “…the author and finisher of our faith…” in Hebrews 12:2. It’s talking about Jesus, of course. I like the way the NIV puts it,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of [our] faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV.

It’s like my faith ~ my story ~ is a book, and Jesus is its author. He’s the One who began my story, and He’s the One who will finish it, as it says in Philippians,

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6, NLT.

I love the Bible. It always tells the truth. The verses I quoted above tell the truth about God’s activity in my life. And the cardinal truth can be found in this verse in Hebrews,

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5, NLT.

Throughout my life ~ through all the abuse, all the times my mother tried to kill me, all the horrendous and terrible things my father did to me, all my suicide attempts, even during the period where I was enraged at God ~ through all of it, God was there, keeping me alive, shielding me from the worst of the abuse, and even protecting me from myself.

He’s never failed me, He’s never forsaken me, He’s never abandoned me, plus He’s given me beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning, as it says in Isaiah,

To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3, NKJV.

God has given me so much beauty in my life! He’s been so incredibly good to me, and He continues to be so on a daily, minute-by-minute basis. The cross is the best, most beautiful gift He could ever give me. It’s the best demonstration of true love anyone could ever give to another person, as it says in the Gospel of John,

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~ John 15:13, NLT.

Revenge Is God’s Job, Not Man’s.

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I think I know why vigilante justice is wrong. It occurred to me that vigilante justice is man’s attempt to get revenge when God said specifically that vengeance was His responsibility. It says in the Book of Romans,

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19, ESV.

And Paul is quoting Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy when he says that (Deuteronomy 32:35).

That says to me that revenge is God’s job, not ours. I often wonder if the reason people practice vigilante justice is because they either don’t believe God exists, so they feel they have to get justice themselves, or they don’t trust that He’ll get the justice they want, or need, or think they deserve for that crime. Either way they’re wresting control of when justice is served out of God’s hands, and into their own hands.

When someone has a vested interest in seeing a particular person convicted for a crime, regardless of that person’s actual guilt or innocence, if the person is acquitted then the one with the personal stake in his conviction can be a prime candidate for vigilante justice because he didn’t get his desired outcome.

God knows the whole story. He can see the whole picture, whereas we only know what we can see and hear and feel. We will never know another person’s motivation for what they did, and we won’t usually know if that person is lying, unless they break down and confess that they lied.

What if the person we’re pursuing is actually innocent of the crime we’re accusing him/her of? Even though we think we know who committed the crime, we don’t know everything, and we might be wrong. There’s no such thing as a perfect murder where God is concerned because God knows everything, EVERYTHING, and even if the real killer is never apprehended here on earth, God still knows who did it. That person will still have to face God’s justice and judgment in the end, regardless of what happens here on earth.

I know it’s hard to trust God about something so personal and painful as when someone dear to you has been attacked and/or murdered. I’ve been a victim of serious crime myself, and I know how difficult it is to trust God when you’ve been deeply wounded.

You might be saying, “How can I trust God when He allowed me to be so savagely hurt?” But I’ve come to know that it was God who protected me from the worst of the abuse. If God hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have survived. I would be dead, because those who were abusing me would have killed me, or I would have succeeded in one of my suicide attempts. And you might respond, “But if God is as powerful and as good as everyone says He is, then why was I abused at all? Why didn’t He stop the abuse from happening altogether?”

Unfortunately, there are some questions for which there just isn’t a satisfactory answer this side of Heaven, and this is one of them. The problem of evil is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith, and it’s also one of the main reasons people give for doubting God’s existence. The argument usually goes, if God is omnipotent then He could have stopped the evil from happening, and since He didn’t then He must not be omnipotent. And by the same token, if He’s completely good, then He wouldn’t have allowed the evil to happen in the first place, and since the evil did happen, then He must not be completely good.

My response to those arguments is that the people proposing them aren’t considering all the factors. There is the all-important detail of man’s free will. God created every single human being with a free will, and He cannot violate that will in any way at any time, otherwise it wouldn’t be free. God desires humans who will freely choose to fellowship with Him, and He can only get people who will make that choice by creating them with a completely free will. And that means a free will to reject Him just as much as to choose Him.

I can say that God is absolutely faithful, and He solved the problem of evil once for all at the cross. Colossians 2 says,

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross. ~ Colossians 2:14-15, NLT.

In addition, it says in the Book of Revelation,

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. ~ Revelation 1:18, KJV.

Jesus triumphed over Satan at the cross, and took the keys of hell and death away from him at that time, and as a consequence, death has lost its sting, as it says so well in 1 Corinthians,

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, ESV.

Even though Christ dealt with Satan at the cross, making a show of him openly as it says in Colossians, we won’t see the complete outworking of that victory until Christ returns at His Second Coming.

I think I’ll stop now. I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and meandered around a bit. I probably could’ve made this into two posts, especially because it got kind of long, plus I ended up on a different topic than I started out on, but I’m not sure I want to. Maybe I can tie it all together.

When someone is seeking their own justice, which is basically what vigilante justice is, they’re committing murder because they don’t trust the criminal justice system. Trying to exact your own justice is the wrong way to go about it. Killing another human being is always wrong no matter what, except if it’s in self defense.

God must be the judge, not man, and He works through the criminal justice system, as flawed as it is because it’s run by human beings. We need to trust that the truth will come out in God’s timing. You can’t hide anything from God. It says in the Book of Numbers,

But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. ~ Numbers 32:23, NLT.

So that’s all, folks!

I Hate When That Happens!

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The other day I was on my way to a therapy appointment when I came to a huge traffic jam blocking my route. Traffic going the opposite direction was flowing smoothly, but on my side it was pretty much a parking lot. It became abundantly clear in fairly short order that I would be late for my appointment if I didn’t do something drastic.

This was an important appointment for me, because McT and I had scheduled a two hour time slot. I’d never had a two hour therapy appointment before, so I was really looking forward to this session.

I managed to stay calm for a while, until I realized for sure that I was going to be late. I called McT and left a message with that information, and told him that I was very frustrated about the fact that I wasn’t going to get my whole two hour session. In fact, I wasn’t just frustrated, I was yelling-out-loud pissed, and my anger was mostly at God.

I hate it when I feel angry at God. When I get angry at God it never feels right or justified, but sometimes circumstances get all messed up, and everything goes contrary to my plans.

I know the saying that says, If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

But I’m just not mature enough yet to be able to not get angry when something happens, especially if a lot of somethings happen, to mess up my plans. It always feels like God made it happen that way on purpose. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but it’s the way I feel.