Good Question...


On...the limits of "trials"


The next question in my mind is (other than being the Cosmic Woobie) what good is God?

Fifteen men are on a scaffolding, high up the side of a building. The wind causes the scaffold to shift, plunging eight men to their deaths. That night on the news the wife of one of the survivors is interviewed about what happened and says,"God was really with our husbands today." She, of course, was speaking of the men who survived. A true story. I saw the interview and was riveted. What would she have said if her husband had been one of the ones who died? Where was God for those who died? Didn't it hurt the loved ones of the men who died, to hear this woman imply that God was not with their men? Maybe she loved the Lord and wanted to share her gratitude, but her remarks took no thought for the pain of the other families and, in fact, probably added to it. I don't think I have to connect the dots here. This is my pain and frustration with a lot of "God-loving" people.

[couldn't agree with you more about the woman...in my early days as a believer, I made the same kinds of statements, until I learned from the Book and from experience that that position is unbiblical and unwarranted generalization...God MAY have protected SOME of the survivors, but His mercy might also have taken SOME of the others on 'home'...

My own thought developed over the decades in this way...I noticed that there was not a SINGLE type of calamity and/or atrocity that was note experienced by AT LEAST ONE of 'the faithful' ...and in cases, the BETTER you were, THE WORST the experiences...so I started asking the question 'what good is He' (and in my words, is there ANYTHING that I can 'count on' from my God? If I cannot count on him for protection from ANYTHING, what remains of his 'protective role as Father'?

This lead to a study of the promises of God in scripture...I noticed alot of TV-type preachers telling the world that god promised wealth, health, success, freedom from pain, etc...but I just could NOT find that in scripture or my experience..instead I found verses like: Psalm 34:17 (The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.) and 34:19 (Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.)...

So I built this model/understanding that the way of life was that of a general series of challenges (not perpetual bliss!)...

The next step came when I learned that the difficulties that I faced as child of God were 'regulated'...according to I cor 10:13 (No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.), God CONTROLLED the 'level of difficulty' in my experiences (the 'beyond what I can bear' clause)...SO this was a promise that made sense (given my experience)...

And then the next major piece came from understanding that the difficulties were designed for a purpose in my life--development of character, strength, and will...Heb 12:10ff (Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.) points out that a life with RIGOR has certain benefits of character (and 'discipline' in this passage is NOT the punishment-type of 'discipline', but the rather the 'discipline' of the military or athletics--a rigor, a simplicity of life, a context of challenge)...the goal was to the 'share in his holiness'...'holiness' is a strange word in the modern West, but it basically means 'difference'..that we might be DIFFERENT from those who simply 'drift through' and never develop the robustness that brings satisfaction and joy, to others, self, and our Maker...

Where this nets out for me is that the GUARANTEE is that I WILL have a steady stream of difficulties, all carefully calculated to be potentially CONSTRUCTIVE to my actualization, and none of which would be 'so difficult as to be destructive' to my character...

When I look over my life--its bad times and good times--I DO see this pattern operative...the crises I have faced in two divorces, oppression by the govt, financial difficulties, the health of my children, social handicaps, rejection by my original Christian sub-culture, have all been 'deliberately difficult and painful' but have also sculpted a character that (although seriously unfinished!!!!!) is nonetheless QUITE an improvement on what I started with!...

There is a special issue in this arena, about the issue of final death. The Lord seems to use physical death as the exit from this 'growth cycle', so I consider it outside the scope of this perspective...God HAS promised me that I will die (unless he returns early), so I see this not as a contradiction to his 'protection promise' but as a boundary condition...HOW I DIE (falling off a scaffold, airplane crash, terminal illness) is still (1) subject to the above constraints (most of which do NOT apply in rapid-death situations) and (2) subject to the above constraints relative to the surviving family (if believers)...

One important note: these above 'promises' ONLY apply to those who seek God's involvement in their lives. All of the 'unbelievers' I have ever met (and talked with on this subject) have refused God's involvement in their life, and hence, the constraints above do NOT apply to their lives (by their decision)...

well, its a little brief and terse, but you should be able to get the point...

As to the scaffolding element, I would have said something like: "God obviously has more work for my believing husband to do and/or more growing that he needs(!), so He kept him alive a little longer..." This would have been much more accurate than the on e reported...


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