Pastoral Perspectives

Where Is God In Our suffering?

For the past month, we’ve been preaching on 1 Peter on the theme of suffering. Coincidentally, I received from a friend an interview with Anne Graham Lotz, second daughter of Billy Graham after the attack on September 11 2001. Jane Clayson asked her, “How could God let something like this happen?” Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, “I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?”

In light of recent events…terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered and her body found recently) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school … the Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK. Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock’s son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he’s talking about. And we said OK.

Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. And we said OK. Funny how people said times have changed, teachers, principals should not discipline the students. Students are under great pressure and we’re afraid to anger parents, they will report to the media, schools no longer discipline our children. And we said OK. Funny how some said our children have rights. They have the rights to abortion and are not required to inform their parents. And we said OK. Funny how others said that rather than being sneaky, why not teach our children to use condom. In any way they are curious and sex before marriage is no big deal! And we said OK. Funny how people said public and private lives are separate, as long as the president does well with our economy… why should we be so concerned about his private life! And we said OK.

Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. God’s reply is: “My child! It is you who have not allowed me to step into your life.” Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with “WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.”

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world is becoming like hell. Funny how we can believe what the newspapers say but we question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you’re not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it. Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

I was preparing for the sermon for next Sunday and realized that the apostle Peter in his writing is preparing us believers today to deal with suffering from God’s viewpoint. He said: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13) God never said that Christian life would be easy. Not once does it say in the bible that a Christian walk is one that is all roses. The bible says that once we are Christians, we’re thrown into a battle. It is a battle between us and temptation and a battle between God and Satan. Suffering should never be on what we are able to bear, but on the grace that God is offering. Peter wrote this letter not only to a persecuted church, but also to people like us who struggle with living out our faith. The difficulty many of us face is not necessarily persecution. Most of our struggles come from a failure to remain constantly under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Rev Tan Cheng Huat

November 2, 2014