Some friends of mine have suffered constant physical pain for decades, so I think of them whenever I am curled up in a ball of pain from one of my headaches. I realize that what I suffer physically (and also what I have watched Brody suffer through) is insignificant compared to the excruciating pain others face every day either due to persecution for their faith in Christ, or for other reasons. Some of my friends were born with a condition that causes suffering on a daily basis. Other people, such as Joni Eareckson Tada suddenly experienced a change in their lives due to an accident. Still others experienced sudden suffering due to the rapid onset of a disease or due to a natural disaster.
Sadly, some will try to console a suffering person by saying that God had nothing to do with the natural disaster or accident that caused his suffering. Thinking that God is not able to protect His children provides absolutely no comfort to afflicted ones. Furthermore, God actually says in His Word that He is at work in all things, including physical suffering. I’ve included links here to www.blueletterbible.org so you can see the verses in their contexts:
He has been working out His plan from eternity past and He is still at work today (even in your life,) and He will carry out His plan to completion into eternity future.
Sometimes this is hard to consider: God is love and yet I am suffering in some way. How can both be true? In my experience, I have the most difficulty reconciling my experience with what God’s Word says when I start with MY presupposition that I am entitled to a happy, carefree, successful life, designed by me to give me what I think will make me happy. I’m in trouble from the starting point when I start with what I think. I often forget that I am still tainted by sin and so my selfish thoughts are not going to lead me to a proper understanding of the truth. The starting point needs to be God, not man.
James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries often reminds his audience that we must start with God, as the King of all, in order to understand what the Bible teaches about God’s freedom in His Creation. Those of us who have grown up in the U.S. or spent much of our lives thinking as an American thinks, will have a really hard time grasping the meaning of a king’s sovereignty. We are so accustomed to a balance of power since one of the priorities of our country’s founders was to create a government that would look nothing like a monarchy. Our country’s government was purposefully designed to avoid the rule of a king. We do not often think about how a king has absolute power over his realm and his subjects. We Americans are used to having a say in our government. However, if we had a king ruling over us, our only interaction with him would be to beg for mercy, not to vote him out of office if we did not like how he was reigning. So, it takes some effort on our part to separate our culture of democracy from our view of God as the Sovereign Ruler over His Creation (which includes each of our lives.)
When I start with God being King, then I am more at peace with my life, including the “lesser” disappointments of life as well as the “greater” losses. This has been an area of struggle for me from time to time… I find it more natural to trust God regarding the “big” things such as how long my mom would live (something I never thought I could control). However, I find it harder to submit to what God has planned for my life when I think I should have control over something. Sometimes, I think I should have control over whether or not I lose a day of productivity due to a bad headache. Or, when I thought I had set myself up well to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of 10 children, I had a hard time coming to a point of peacefully and joyfully accepting that God had planned something else for me.
As I began to realize that my life wasn’t turning out the way I had designed it, I had to repeatedly remind myself from Scripture that God is the Designer of my life. He is free to act according to His purpose. When I remember that He is King and He answers to no one, then I am less prone to my prideful thinking that I would have designed my life differently had I been in charge. And when I remember His kindness in saving me when I was His enemy, rebelling against Him, then I am less prone to thinking He is dealing with me in an unkind fashion by withholding from me something I thought was “good” (what I had thought would be my best life and the best way I could serve Him).
When I find myself really struggling with an “I deserve better” or “It’s not fair!” attitude, I read Job 38:1-42:6 over and over and over. I’ll write more about that later!
I am gradually posting photos of each of the recipes found in A Recipe for Survival. Here’s a shot of Mom’s Stuffed Bell Peppers (page 133). Usually, I use green peppers, but since I wanted to create a photo shoot reflecting the beauty of God’s Creation, I chose to spend a little more and purchase the other colors as well. Brody really enjoys this recipe, and so do I!