God is no unfeeling force

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blank squareI cannot think that God would be content
To view unmoved the toiling and the strain,
The groaning of the ages, sick and spent,
The whole creation travailing in pain.

The suffering God is no vast cosmic force,
That by some blind, unthinking, loveless power
blank squareKeeps stars and atoms swinging in their course,
And reckons naught of men in this grim hour.

Nor is the suffering God a fair ideal
Engendered in the questioning hearts of men,
A figment of the mind to help me steel
My soul to rude realities I ken.

blank squareGod suffers with a love that cleanses dross;
A God like that, I see upon a cross.

blank square–Georgia Harkness
          (1891-1974)

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Published in: on 11/19/2015 at 15:32  Leave a Comment  
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Pleasure and Pain

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Pleasure and pain are, in a word, the positive and negative poles between which flow the currents of human life. Detach one pole, and this life will cease. People who ask for a painless world don’t truly know what they are asking for.

–Dallas Willard
The Allure of Gentleness

Published in: on 04/23/2015 at 21:50  Leave a Comment  
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Nowhere else to go

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How often do we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven . . . to the best, the only, the central help, the causing cause of all the helps to which we had turned aside as nearer and better.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

A God with wounds

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The other gods were strong;
but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou
didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds
only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds,
but Thou alone.

–Edward Shillito
Jesus of the Scars

It is a promise

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The final secret, I think, is this: that the words “You shall love the Lord your God” become in the end less a command than a promise. And the promise is that, yes, on the weary feet of faith and the fragile wings of hope, we will come to love him at last as from the first he has loved us–loved us even in the wilderness, especially in the wilderness, because he has been in the wilderness with us. He has been in the wilderness for us. He has been acquainted with our grief.

–Frederick Buechner
A Room Called Remember

Trust the engineer

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When a train goes through
a tunnel and it gets dark,
you don’t throw away
the ticket and jump off.
You sit still and trust
the engineer.

–Corrie Ten Boom

Published in: on 06/20/2014 at 9:18  Leave a Comment  
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Love still grows

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The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.

–J. R. R. Tolkien

Published in: on 05/30/2014 at 8:50  Leave a Comment  
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Stretches of darkness

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If anyone tells you that the life of prayer is one uninterrupted experience of being happy with Jesus, do not follow him. He is not a safe guide. Those who follow the Lamb know that there are stretches of darkness and loneliness and perplexity along the way, and they know that Jesus himself went that way.

–Lesslie Newbigin
(1909-1998)

The problem of good

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We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve “the problem of evil,” yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is the “problem of good.” How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world? Tackling this problem would achieve much better results.

–Richard Rohr
Immortal Diamond

 

The coming joy

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While other worldviews
lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys,
foreseeing the coming sorrows,
Christianity empowers its people to sit
in the midst of this world’s sorrows,
tasting the coming joy.

–Tim Keller

Published in: on 10/01/2013 at 5:03  Leave a Comment  
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His faithful presence

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Our life is full of brokenness—
broken relationships,
broken promises,
broken expectations.
How can we live with that brokenness
without becoming bitter and resentful
except by returning again and again
to God’s faithful presence
in our lives?

–Henri Nouwen

In strong hands

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The strong hands of God 
twisted the crown of thorns 
into a crown of glory; 
and in such hands we are safe.

–Charles Williams
(1886 – 1945)

Faithing storms

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Faith does not lie in trusting God
to stop the storm, but in trusting Him
to enable us to walk through the storm.

–Jill Briscoe

Image by Craig Stevens

Published in: on 06/14/2013 at 7:11  Leave a Comment  
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Retroactive glory

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Heaven, once attained,
will work backwards
and turn even agony
into a glory.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 05/28/2013 at 20:16  Leave a Comment  
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Getting to the heart

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There are only two things
that pierce the human heart,
beauty and affliction.

–Simone Weil

Published in: on 05/14/2013 at 4:04  Comments (1)  
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When God says, “Me too”

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Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, “God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.”

The cross is God’s way of taking away all
of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.”

–Rob Bell
(emphasis added)

 

Published in: on 05/11/2013 at 4:39  Leave a Comment  
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It will end well

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[T]he God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more than transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death; he simply stated that the Kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father’s love is so prodigal that no evil could possibly resist it.

–Brennan Manning

The quest for happiness

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The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in.

The settled happiness and security
which we all desire, God withholds from us
by the very nature of the world:
but joy, pleasure, and merriment,
He has scattered broadcast.

We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose . . . our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.

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Our Father refreshes us on the journey
with some pleasant inns, but will not
encourage us to mistake them for home.

―C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Published in: on 04/21/2013 at 5:48  Leave a Comment  
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God, explain yourself

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How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity’s song–all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself.

We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God.

―Nicholas Wolterstorff
Lament for a Son

That is the God for me

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I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’

In the real world of pain,
how could one worship a God
who was immune to it?

I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness.

That is the God for me!
He laid aside his immunity to pain.

He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.

 John R. W. Stott
The Cross of Christ

Walking in the dark

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I hear men praying everywhere for more faith, but when I listen to them carefully, and get to the real heart of their prayer, very often it is not more faith at all that they are wanting, but a change from faith to sight. Faith says not, “I see that it is good for me, so God must have sent it,” but, “God sent it, and so it must be good for me.” Faith, walking in the dark with God, only prays Him to clasp its hand more closely…

–Phillips Brooks
(1835 – 1893)

Where to turn?

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When belief in God becomes difficult,
the tendency is to turn away from Him;
but in heaven’s name to what?

–C. K. Chesterton
(1874 – 1936)

Published in: on 02/10/2013 at 4:29  Leave a Comment  
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The most daring phrase of all

We think of the enormous sacrifices of those early Christians; but what struck them was the immensity of their inheritance in Christ. Take that one phrase (surely the most daring that the mind of man ever conceived) . . .

“We are the heirs of God.”

That is what they felt about it, that not God Himself could have a fuller life than theirs, and that even He would share all that He had with them! Tremendous words that stagger through their sheer audacity!

And yet, here we are, whispering about the steepness of the way, the soreness of the self-denial, the heaviness of the cross, whining and puling, giving to those outside the utterly grotesque impression that religion is a gloomy kind of thing, a dim, monastic twilight where we sit and shiver miserably, out of the sunshine that God made for us…

–A. J. Gossip
(1873-1954)

Why did this happen?


We have no right to ask, 
when a sorrow comes, 
“Why did this 
happen to me?” 
unless we ask 
the same question 
for every joy 
that comes our way.

– Philip E. Berstein

The most beautiful people

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

–Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Suffering and joy

For those who do not believe in God,
joy is peripheral and suffering is fundamental;
but for the believer, suffering is peripheral
and joy is fundamental.

–G. K. Chesterton

Published in: on 12/01/2011 at 8:23  Leave a Comment  
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Not the cause but the cure

God is often faulted for creating a world full of suffering and evil. The issue is complex, both philosophically and theologically; but surely it is inappropriate to blame God for a problem He did not initiate, and [that is] in fact, one which He has sought to alleviate, at great cost to Himself. God sent His Son to inaugurate the Kingdom and to “destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). God is not the cause of suffering and sickness; He is its cure! Jesus’ ministry and death guarantee this.

–George Mallone

Published in: on 10/13/2011 at 18:30  Leave a Comment  

Scratches are inevitable

Sin has turned the world
from a paradise into a thicket,
there is no getting through
without being scratched.

–Thomas Boston

Published in: on 10/12/2011 at 22:43  Leave a Comment  

Joy and sorrow

 

Sorrow is one of the things that are lent, not given. Joy is given; sorrow is only lent. Sorrow is lent to us for just a little while that we might use if for eternal purposes. Then it will be taken away and everlasting joy will be our Father’s gift to us. So let us use this lent thing to draw us nearer to Christ; and let us use it to make us more tender to others.

–Amy Carmichael

Published in: on 10/12/2011 at 9:12  Leave a Comment  

Daring to trust and wait

Let us be so assured of the inexhaustible tenacity of His love as to dare to trust Him, though He slay us. And let us look forward to that august moment when He will give us a reason to all life’s discipline, with a smile that shall thrill our souls with ecstasy, and constrain sorrow and sighing to flee away forever.

–F.B. Meyer

Published in: on 10/11/2011 at 17:40  Leave a Comment  
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