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Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Category


20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
– Job 3:20-23

I have not written in over a week.  Much of this has been from my work schedule.  The other is from a friend of mine who committed suicide this past Sunday.  He was a brother whom I met back in 2000 at youth camp when I was a young youth pastor.  He and I clicked because he loved to sing hymns (as did I) and he loved to pray for the teenagers to be saved.  I remember he had brought with him a very troubled young man who needed Christ.  My brother was passionate to see this teenager saved.  I have often wondered what became of that young man.

My friend went on to live a troubled life in the ministry.  He seemed passionate for Christ but he struggled to fit into the traditional church.  He served at a large church as a youth pastor for a season and it seemed to be his “dream” job but it proved to be a heartbreak as the church turned on him and fired him.  He then bounced around from church to church before becoming a senior pastor of a traditional church that he hoped to move toward a non-traditional approach to ministry.  In the end he left that church to start a church/coffee shop in a college town.  I had lost touch with him from about 2008 on and figured, from Facebook and other sources, that he was doing okay.  He seemed to be confused theologically as he bounced around the charismatic world and not really landing anywhere.

From what I can understand, he preached to his church this past Sunday and then during the day he went up on a mountain to end it all.  There he did.  I have no clue as to why.  I don’t know what was happening that he would end his life.  I only know that it breaks my heart.

Suicide is a difficult issue.  I am not here to give an answer to why or what happens.  I have read both sides.  I recently listened to a talk given by Dr. Jack Deere who lost his son to suicide and he built a case for his salvation.  I have heard many people place people who commit suicide in heaven.  I don’t know for sure.  I know some Arminians who say that a self-murderer will not inherit the kingdom (Revelation 21:8).  I have heard others say that a person can be so sick that they long for death and that they lose their mind when it comes to suicide.  My answer is that God alone knows.  He is just.  He is good.  He will do what is righteous.

I do know that suicide is not a biblical option.  Suicide takes the sovereignty of God and places it in the hands of men.  This should not be.  God knows the time of our death (Psalm 139:16) but we are not to take our death into our hands.  God is our light (Psalm 27:1) and He will get us through even the darkest times (Psalm 30:5).  The Bible gives us hope (Romans 15:4) and the Bible calls us to live and die to the glory of God (Philippians 1:20-21).  How can suicide glorify God?  Suicide simply leaves behind many, many unanswered questions and does not reflect upon the glory of God.  When a believer dies in an accident or for health reasons or at the hands of another person, we mourn but rejoice that they were saved and lived a life to the glory of God.  When a person commits suicide, we mourn and have no answers nor any hope.  While some are quick to put the person in heaven and even crown them as saints, I am slow to do this.  I do trust God and I am not saying they are in hell.  I simply don’t know.  I can only look to Christ and His Word.

There are actually a number of suicides in the Bible.  We have the suicides of:

  • King Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
  • Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
  • Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
  • Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18)
  • And the near suicide of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:27)
  • Some see Samson as a suicide (Judges 16:29-30)

Other than Samson (Hebrews 11:32), none are listed as faithful.  The Bible does not give us hope about those who do commit suicide.  I believe this is obviously good since many people, like Job above in Job 3:20-23, can be in such despair that they long for death to come.  Even great men of God such as Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) can long for death though they did not take their own lives but appealed to God to take their lives from them as did Job above (Job 3:20-23; 7:15).  Revelation 9:6 records that people will long for death but will not find it.

I have never been at that place.  I have been in the valley before.  I have loathed life at times.  Yet I have always believed that God would get me through each trial and that He was faithful (Romans 8:28).  I have clung to Him and at times I have longed to leave this world behind (Romans 8:18) but I trust in God who has a purpose in my suffering and trials (James 1:2-5).  It can be dark at times.  I have been in despair many times and will be again some day.  I have sat by my mother’s side while she died and was full of despair but somewhere deep inside was hope that only comes from Christ.  Jesus promised me tribulation in this world but He said to be encouraged for He had overcome the world (John 16:33).  Jesus never promised us a life without trials but He did promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  He promised to keep me (John 10:27-29).

Suicide is a poor option for ending our trials.  It is a selfish option.  Suicide does not care about others.  Those who commit suicide are doing only what they think will help them.  Perhaps they are sick and in total despair but I feel that they are looking at themselves and not upon Christ.  This is why the Bible does not give hope for those who do such things or consider them.  Suicide would greatly increase if people knew that God would gladly welcome them into His kingdom if they ended it.  I am glad the Word is silent on this issue and doesn’t paint a pretty picture for those longing to commit suicide.

I ask you to pray though for the family that this brother left behind.  He left behind many who were seeking after God.  Many of them were new believers.  How will this effect them?  How will the world view this from a man who claimed to be a slave of Christ?  Again, suicide doesn’t bring glory to God but only despair.  It leaves behind a wreck that the enemy will use against the purposes of God but God will not be defeated.  He has already overcome.  Jesus wears the victor’s crown!  I pray that this suicide will cause many to turn toward Christ and realize now more than ever that our hope must be in Him alone and not in ministry, dreams, clergy, or anything or anyone else.  Christ alone must be our lives!

Forgive me if I have been too harsh.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/05/2013 at 2:53 PM

The God Who Ordains Evil

Dr. Roger Olson does a good job in this post by showing the fallacies of some Calvinists when trying to explain evil and how this relates to the sovereignty of God.  Men such as John Piper simply acknowledge that evil comes from God and is ordained by Him for His glory (though we know not how at this time).  Olson points out that this view doesn’t glorify the character of God but rather makes Him appear as less than loving and good.  As Olson stated once before, “There is not much difference I see between the God who ordains evil and renders it certain and Satan.  Satan wants to destroy all but God wants to destroy most.”

The problem of evil and suffering is not easy.  I don’t think there are pat answers for this.  Even Scripture doesn’t give us all the insights we would like in regard to human suffering and evil.  Yet I would equally state that I don’t see in Scripture where God ordains evil and renders it certain.  He certainly knows beforehand what will happen but to control evil and to allow evil is not the same as causing evil which Piper does when he teaches that God is so sovereign that everything that happens does happen because He renders it certain and planned all things.  How is He not evil then?  How is He still rendered as good and loving if in fact He plans and renders certain horrible acts like rape, murder, shootings, etc.?  How can the God of John 3:16 or the God of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 be that God if in fact He causes (whether directly or indirectly) the suffering of people at the hands of vile sinners?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/27/2012 at 1:01 PM

Dr. William Lane Craig on Suffering and God

Below are the points Dr. Craig makes in suffering and the Christian God.  If Jesus truly is God (John 1:1) and we accept the revelation of Him as we see in the Bible then our God is the one true and living God because of how we Christians view suffering.  We must view suffering from a biblical point of view and then we see suffering in light of the revelation of who God is and what awaits those who know Him (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10).  I believe Dr. Craig’s point are worth reposting here and I have taken them directly from his website.  Here are his thoughts on suffering and how our correct view of God through Christ allows us to see suffering in a different way than the world or other religions:

The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil. In so doing, these doctrines decrease any improbability of God’s existence thought to issue from the existence of evil. What are some of these doctrines? Let me mention four:

a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which maybe utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness in this world, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?

b. Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose. Rather than submit to and worship God, people rebel against God and go their own way and so find themselves alienated from God, morally guilty before Him, and groping in spiritual darkness, pursuing false gods of their own making. The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man’s depravity in this state of spiritual alienation from God. The Christian is not surprised at the human evil in the world; on the contrary, he expects it. The Bible says that God has given mankind over to the sin it has chosen; He does not interfere to stop it, but lets human depravity run its course. This only serves to heighten mankind’s moral responsibility before God, as well as our wickedness and our need of forgiveness and moral cleansing.

c. The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life. In the Christian view, this life is not all there is. Jesus promised eternal life to all who place their trust in him as their Savior and Lord. In the afterlife God will reward those who have borne their suffering in courage and trust with an eternal life of unspeakable joy. The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, lived a life of incredible suffering. Yet he wrote, “We do not lose heart. For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18). Paul imagines a scale, as it were, in which all the sufferings of this life are placed on one side, while on the other side is placed the glory that God will bestow on his children in heaven. The weight of glory is so great that it is literally beyond comparison with the suffering. Moreover, the longer we spend in eternity the more the sufferings of this life shrink toward an infinitesimal moment. That’s why Paul could call them “a slight and momentary affliction”—they were simply overwhelmed by the ocean of divine eternity and joy which God lavishes on those who trust Him.

d. The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. To know God, the source of infinite goodness and love, is an incomparable good, the fulfillment of human existence. The sufferings of this life cannot even be compared to it. Thus, the person who knows God, no matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still say, “God is good to me,” simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, an incomparable good.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/01/2012 at 10:07 PM

The Gospel is Sufficient

I am amazed at how the gospel is carrying me through this trial of losing my mother to cancer.  I am finding strength from the Lord and finding that the gospel is giving me comfort, hope, and victory over all the lies of the enemy and the flesh.  There is no denying that my heart is breaking for my mama.  I will miss her deeply but I will rejoice that she is in the presence of the Lord and that she is no longer suffering from the effects of sin.  Victory will be her’s in Christ Jesus (John 11:25-26).

This all comes from the gospel.  The gospel carries us through trials.  The gospel gives us the power to help us overcome (1 John 5:1-4).  The gospel produces in us that calm assurance that God is sovereignly in control and that He is more than faithful to us by giving us His Son and by giving us His grace and mercy in our redemption.  The gospel reveals to me that we live in a sinful, fallen world that is doomed by sin (Romans 8:20-22).  The fall of man into sin brought death and destruction (Romans 5:12).  The fall is the reason that my mama has cancer.  She is fallen and so are you and I.  In reality, the gospel shows me that we deserve the wrath of God but we receive His mercy through the cross (Romans 5:8-9).  Apart from Christ, we deserve the just dues for our sin which is eternal death (Romans 6:23).  My mama is experiencing the Fall as she suffers in her last days.  She is a child of Adam and the wages of sin is death but praise God that He has saved her from spiritual death through the giving of His Son and by saving her by His grace (John 1:12-13; 5:24-25).

So the gospel reveals to me 1) the reason for my mama’s suffering (sin and the fall), 2) the faithfulness of God in the giving of His Son for our eternal salvation (John 3:16), and 3) that our salvation is not based on our goodness but upon the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus is our salvation!  He is the captain of our souls!

My mother, I believe, has placed her total faith in Jesus to save her and to take her to glory when she dies.  Jesus is our reward and our delight (Hebrews 11:6).  He is our rock of refuge (Proverbs 18:10) and He is our strength and our song and He has become our salvation (Psalm 118:14).  Jesus is the reason that heaven is glorious!  Forever and ever and ever we get the pleasure of worshiping He who died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:24-25; Revelation 5:9-10). We will worship Jesus for all time and eternity but still never cease to tell of His wonder and His glory.

What a wonderful Savior is our King!  Jesus Christ is the gospel.  He fully reveals God to us since He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20) and Jesus is worthy to be praised for saving us because He is our salvation through His own blood (Ephesians 1:7).  There is none as worthy as Jesus is worthy and no Savior but Him alone (John 14:6).  Let us rejoice in Him knowing that He is our salvation and He is the gospel.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/06/2012 at 11:10 PM

Avoiding the American View of Salvation

I wanted to write about suffering and how over and over again the New Testament writers appealed to their readers to accept suffering as from God and useful to their spiritual growth.  The Apostles had been warned by Jesus that they would suffer for His name (Matthew 5:10-12; John 15:18-25).  Jesus had even told Peter the type of death he would die for the glory of God (John 21:18-19).  The Apostles accepted suffering for the name of Jesus in the book of Acts (Acts 4:29-31).  I wanted to write about that aspect of the Christian life that has almost completely abandoned by the modern church.  I have yet to see signs that promote suffering as something we should desire for the glory of God.

But my Americanism got in the way.  I confess that like most Americans, I want to avoid suffering.  I want a happy, blessed life.  I don’t want to suffer physically for my faith.  I don’t want anyone to deny me my rights as a believer and a citizen of the United States.  I want to worship Jesus but am I willing to suffer for Him?  By my American standards, I don’t.  I would probably be like Peter and deny Jesus’ name before suffering.  That is my American thinking.

And yet the disciple inside of me cries out for the glory of God.  I want to honor the Lord.  I don’t want to place my citizenship ahead of my faith.  I am a disciple of Jesus who has been baptized into the Lord Jesus and His Church (Galatians 3:26-27).  I am first a disciple of Jesus and then I am a disciple who happens to live in the United States of America.  I praise God that I do.  I praise Him for the blessing of freedom and liberty.  I praise Him that I can read the Bible without fear and that I can even own a Bible (many of them in fact) and not fear that someone will arrest me for my faith.  I don’t fear that someone might want me to die because of my faith in Jesus Christ.  I don’t fear that the government will soon declare that Christianity is illegal.  I do rejoice that I get to live, by God’s grace, in this nation.

Yet at the same time I know that being a disciple of Jesus means suffering for His name (2 Timothy 3:12).  There is not escaping suffering for Jesus.  People will not understand me as I walk out my faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6).  My own family members perhaps will call me crazy because I seek God’s face and put Jesus first above all others (Luke 14:25-35).  Paul said that we were to welcome suffering for the kingdom of God (Romans 8:18).  Paul even called our suffering “light momentary affliction” (2 Corinthians 4:14-16).  Peter said that we were blessed if we suffer for being accused of being a Christian (1 Peter 4:12-19).  Jesus said in Revelation 2:10 that the disciples in Smyrna were to be faithful to death and that if they were He would give them the crown of life.

I know that right now thousands of true disciples are suffering for Jesus all over the world.  Disciples are being killed in Africa and disciples are being stoned in Islamic nations.  Disciples are being imprisoned and tortured in communist nations such as China, Cuba, and Vietnam.  Roman Catholics are persecuting disciples in South America.  Drug gangs are killing disciples in Central America.  All over the world disciples of Jesus are suffering for the gospel.  Many of them are laying down their lives for the gospel.

And yet what do we lay down for our faith in the United States?  Few of us will pray.  Few of us will weep over the lost.  Few of us will even meet just to seek God.  Few of us will share our faith despite the absolute freedom to do so.  Few of us will read the Word of God while disciples in China long to have one Bible at all and if a house church in China has a Bible they must pass it around and copy it by hand.  Few of us ever suffer for the gospel.  Myself included.  Persecution in the United States is mainly from the secular media or Hollywood but not actually attacking us physically (not yet at least) . We don’t know the price either paid for our souls by God (John 3:16) nor the price our fellow disciples are paying for their faith in other nations.  Oh how this must break heaven’s heart!  To see us wasting our time for things that don’t matter instead of investing in the harvest of souls all over the world (John 4:34-35).

Do I want to suffer for Jesus Christ?  My flesh would say no.  My spirit says yes!  I pray that I am feeding my spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and am willing to lay down my life for the gospel of our Lord (Philippians 1:20-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/13/2011 at 10:13 AM

Why Does God Allow Evil? by Douglas Jacoby

Here is a podcast from Dr. Douglas Jacoby entitled, Why Does God Allow Evil?  There are few questions that are asked more than this question when people face trials in life, suffering, sicknesses, disasters, death and destruction, and evil itself.  Where is God when we suffer?  Why does God allow evil?  Why doesn’t God, since He controls all things, not intervene for us when we pray to Him in the midst of trials?  These are questions that have plagued mankind for thousands of years and I suppose, should Jesus tarry, will continue to plague us until all is fulfilled (Revelation 21:1).

You find the podcast here.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/28/2010 at 9:52 AM

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