Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RE: SUFFERING

1.  I have been LOVING the fall.  The colors have been extra vibrant, the smells have been exceptionally delicious, and the weather has been amazingly wonderful.  It's been great.  It has been easy to "see" God in the midst of such a fantastic season.  His goodness, His faithfulness and His creativity has been on display in such a big way.

2.  I have been reading the book of Job in my devotions lately.  At first, I hated it - like, really hated it.  I didn't understand any of it and just got frustrated.  I wanted to give up.  ...but, I didn't.  I read, reread, journaled, stared at the wall, doodled, listened to some sermons, dug out some commentaries, drank lots of coffee and prayed for understanding.  And...it worked.  Now, Job is one of my all-time favorite books.  Weird, since it is mostly about suffering.  Weird, since a lot of the book is dark and depressing.

1+2= 3. So, (1) the Lord's goodness is jumping out at me lately - vibrant fall colors, gorgeous weather...  His faithfulness is just so obvious - we are celebrating a year of marriage, the Harp & Bowl ministry is bursting with miracles and blessing, I am finding my "sweet spot" in being a wife/musician/worship leader/designer/helper.  I could go on and on...  But (2) in reading Job, I am left wondering if we are seeing - really seeing - God's goodness and faithfulness on display in suffering.  In a world full of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes...  Divorce, affairs, rapes, murders...  Addictions, loneliness, depression...  Cancer, accidents, death...  Is the Lord's goodness and faithfulness as obvious to me in the midst of these things?  To you?

Have you ever really, really wrestled with the reality of bad things happening to good people?  Does God cause these terrible things to happen?  Does He allow them to happen?  Is He really loving?  Is He really good?  Do you have a theology of suffering?  

I used to answer all of those questions by saying something like, "Well, God is God.  He gets to do whatever He wants.  His ways are higher than mine."  But, in reading the Word, in praying through scripture, in my life experiences, I have realized more and more that I don't have to just grit my teeth, and just "get through" suffering - the Lord is teaching me more about how to respond to Him and to the reality of suffering in much different ways these days.  

In some of my next blog posts, I'm hoping to highlight some of the different ways I'm learning to deal with/process suffering in my own life and in the world.  

I have hesitated to write about some of these things because I know some of my friends and blog readers might not agree with what I have to say.  Though my thoughts might be a little different than yours, my hope is to stimulate loving conversation, processing and more seeking. I haven't "arrived" at any spectacular "I-know-everything-there-is-to-know-about-suffering" place.  So, I'm still learning - just like you.

I also would like to point out that I am not a pro when it comes to suffering.  My life has been very "posh" and easy compared to many, many people around the world.  I am blessed.  My prayer, though, is that even in these times of great blessing and favor, I would be diligent in seeking out some of these things with the Lord...so that when suffering does hit hard, I will be already rooted in a firmer Foundation.  

I'm off to take the banana bread out of the oven.  

Two recommendations.  1) Bake this recipe.  It is healthy. 2) Read Job and wrestle with it.


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4 comments

  1. Hey Liza! I really enjoy reading your blog postings. I find them inspirational and, on occasion, humorous! :) I especially like your typed out conversations with Mark!

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  2. Liza, good post. I've been reading through Job too!...not quite finished though. Which commentaries have you been reading? I could use a good commentary on Job... :)

    P.S. Congratulations to you and Mark on your one-year anniversary! You are two of my favorite people in the world!

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  3. @ Kelly - Thanks! If you were a fly on the wall in our apartment, you'd overhear many more ridiculous conversations we have. :) Mark brings so much fun to my life!

    @ Erik - I just go on Bible Gateway and click "resources". I really like the Matthew Henry commentaries, but he is old school. I HIGHLY recommend John Piper's sermons (I think there are five) on Job. SO good. You can download off of Desiring God.org.

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  4. Liza - I've been "stalking" you for a while... sorry. {blush} I'm eager to read more of your posts on suffering - a topic I, too, have delved into quite a bit over the past couple of years.

    In addition to "old-school Matt Henry" and Piper's messages (um, are we sharing a brain?!), I can recommend an excellent 28-day devotional by Derek Thomas called "Mining for Wisdom". Thomas reminds us that Job, along with Proverbs & Ecclesiastes, belongs to the "wisdom" writings of the Bible. That is, it contains instruction on how to live in this world to the glory of God. Yep - even in suffering. Sometimes BECAUSE OF suffering. Hard stuff, challenging stuff... but oh-so-good!

    -Heather Van Es

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