Category Archives: Suffering Can Be Beautiful

I Would Make a Terrible God

Standard

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

Standard

I probably could have broken this into two posts, but it felt like it was important to keep 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.

The Face of My Beloved

Standard

There is nothing I desire more than meeting Jesus face to face. For me Philippians 1 and Philippians 3 say it best,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1:21, NIV.

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in his death… ~ Philippians 3:10, GNT.

To stay here is to glorify God, and give witness to the saving grace and healing power of Jesus Christ. To die is far better, because then I would be where I most desire to be: in the presence of Jesus, meeting Him face to face.

There is nothing better!