Not Always Punishment

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Published in: on 11/14/2018 at 21:30  Leave a Comment  
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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)

Published in: on 11/19/2015 at 15:32  Leave a Comment  
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The final flood of light

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The world is full of dark shadows,
to be sure both the world without
and the world within …
But praise and trust him …
for the knowledge that what’s lost
is nothing to what’s found,
and that all the dark there ever was,
set next to light,
would scarcely fill a cup.

–Frederick Buechner

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

Losing your faith—finding Jesus

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Sometimes you have to lose your faith to find Jesus.

Two travellers on their way to Emmaus had a collection of beliefs. They were confident about their doctrinal positions, secure in their theological convictions. It was all so Scriptural.

Everything looked so promising.

When suddenly the whole thing collapsed.

Their convictions fell apart at the seams when their Messiah didn’t set up his kingdom as expected. He got himself crucified.

Not exactly a Grand Finale.

It all ended in disaster.

And now with hopes dashed, they were going back home. Faith was gone and despair had taken its place. It was all over.

And that’s when they met Jesus.

The Jesus who breaks out of sealed tombs and overcomes invincible enemies. The Jesus who surprises, shocks and astounds. The Jesus who overthrows our preconceived ideas. The Jesus whose ways are bigger, deeper and richer than ours. The Jesus who shows up where we least expect him.

The Jesus who brings hope to troubled hearts.

The Jesus who still meets bewildered people on Emmaus roads.

–Jurgen Schulz

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 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

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

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

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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Of this we can be sure

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The day may bring many strange things to us,
perplexing or painful or disappointing;
but this stands strong: our prayer
has not been turned away,
nor His lovingkindness.

–Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)
 Edges of His Ways

When God renounced power

Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.

―Philip Yancey

Published in: on 11/03/2012 at 10:52  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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Morning must come

The night is long,
and dark, and stormy,
but the morning must come;
and oh what a sunrise
will it be!

–John Angell James
(1785 – 1859)

He gets the last word

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

–1 Peter 5:8-11 (The Message)

Joy will triumph

An alleged Christianity which fails to express itself in gaiety, at some point, is clearly spurious. The Christian is light-hearted not because he is blind to injustice and suffering, but because he is convinced that these, in the light of the divine sovereignty, are never ULTIMATE.

–Elton Trueblood (1900 – 1994)

Published in: on 07/12/2011 at 16:22  Leave a Comment  
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Choosing the cross

Hard it is, very hard,
To travel up the slow and stony road
To Calvary, to redeem mankind; far better
To make but one resplendent miracle,
Lean through the cloud, lift the right hand of power
And with a sudden lightning smite the world perfect.
Yet this was not God’s way, Who had the power,
But set it by, choosing the cross, the thorn,
The sorrowful wounds. Something there is, perhaps,
That power destroys in passing, something supreme,
To whose great value in the eyes of God
That cross, that thorn, and those
five wounds bear witness.

–Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893 – 1957)

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