Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Please continue to pray for Pastor Greg and the rest of the Laurie family in this time of mourning after his eldest son, Christopher, was taken home to heaven on July 24.
During this time, we felt it appropriate to share with you excerpts from Pastor Greg’s book, Why, God?, over the next few weeks.
When God Removes Suffering
There is one more way God can be glorified through our suffering and hardships. He can remove them. And sometimes, that’s just what He does.
He doesn’t always say “no,” and He doesn’t always say “wait.” Sometimes, He steps in immediately, bringing help, wisdom, comfort, and provision. I’ve seen that happen many, many times in my life and ministry.
The Lord sometimes will allow calamity into the life of His child, and then bring glory to Himself by removing it.
The Gospel of John tells the story of Jesus and His disciples encountering a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked their Master, “Why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?” (John 9:2 nlt).
It sounds a little like a rehash of the accusations Job’s counselors tossed out at him, doesn’t it? “Whose fault was this? Why is he sick? Who committed this sin?”
This is the same warped “word of faith” theology that says if you are sick, it’s the result of your personal sin, because (they allege) God never wants you sick. And if you’ll just ‘confess it,’ you will be healed. If you’re not, it’s because of your lack of faith.
It is Job’s counselors revisited, and it is wrong counsel. Because godly people can suffer, too, and still be right in the middle of God’s good plans and purposes.
Jesus had a strong answer for the disciples when they asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:3 nlt).
God wanted to display His power by healing this man—as He did when He raised Lazarus from the dead. But we must also recognize that there are times when God will not heal the blind. He will not raise the dead. He will not do what we ask.
And it is then that we trust Him.
It is then that we do what Job did when his whole world fell apart. He said, “Praise the name of the Lord.” He didn’t say, “I understand this, I understand You.” He simply said, “Lord, I trust You.”
In the midst of his suffering, Job couldn’t read the end of his own story to see how things turned out. Yet he said, “Praise the name of the Lord.”
We can ask God the “why” question anytime we want to. But I don’t know if we’re really going to be satisfied with His answers. If God came down to you on a shining cloud and explained His purposes to you, would it really make it any better? I don’t know that it would. As far as we know, Job was never given the “why” of all the tragedies that befell him. But He was given an incredible revelation of God’s wisdom and power.
There was a time when Jesus asked, “God, why?” It was when He was in great agony, dying on the cross for your sins and my sins, and He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
He did ask why. But notice that He prefaced it with, “My God, My God.” It wasn’t an accusation against the Father. Jesus was merely stating the reality of what was taking place in those awful hours, as all of the sin of the world was being placed upon Him who had known no sin. And as the Father turned His holy face away, the Son cried out, “Why have You forsaken Me?”
The fact is, Jesus was forsaken that I might be forgiven. But even in His great cry of grief and loneliness over His separation from the Father, as He bore the sins of the world for all time, Jesus still said, “My God, My God.” There was complete trust in the Lord.
At this point, you might be saying, “Well, I have a lot of questions for God. When I get to heaven I’m going to ask Him some things. In fact, I’ve got a list.”
You just keep that list with you. Take it with you everywhere you go, and then if you die unexpectedly, you’ll have it handy to pull out and ask God when you stand before Him.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s the way it will be. I suggest to you that when you arrive in heaven, when you see your Creator, your God, your Savior in all His blazing glory, you’ll forget all about your little list of questions.
Our perplexities, distressing as they may be, will one day be swept away.
Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. (1 Corinthians 13:12 nlt)
Our sorrows and heartaches, heavy as they weigh on our souls, will one day be forgotten like a bad dream.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from the second chapter of Greg Laurie’s book, Why, God? (Dana Point, Calif.: Kerygma Publishing, 2007). To order a copy of Why, God? while supplies last, click here to visit the Harvest Store.
For more relevant and biblical teaching from Pastor Greg Laurie, go to www.harvest.org.
The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ, he is an altogether different kind of person. Old things have passed away. Everything becomes fresh and new." That is the truth I want you and everyone who reads this book to come away with. And it is a message not just of hope, but also of Christ's redemptive power.