Thoughts on Suffering


A number of years ago we lived next door to a lady who was always telling us ‘God’ was against her. One day whilst out driving she crashed her car head-on into another vehicle. She said to me “Why does that man upstairs hate me so much”. I was heartbroken for her because she had totally the wrong idea of God. It turned out that she had been driving along and had dropped her cigarette down to the break pedal. While leaning down to find it, the car drifted across the road into the other car. It then came out that one of the reasons she was so cross was that she hadn’t got any car insurance.

“If God is so loving why does she allow suffering to happen” she said.

Was her suffering because God was against her or because she had yet again made some silly decisions?

Some suffering is caused by us. We have to hold up our hands and take full responsibility for our actions. God isn’t out to get us, but our own silly ideas sometime cause us problems. But what about suffering that doesn’t seam to have any real human cause. Is God to blame for natural disasters, which we sometimes refer to as acts of God.

In the bible there is a story of a women called Naomi’s whose story is a dramatically painful one. Naomi’s husband had died because of a severe famine in the land and she was left with her two married sons. Before long the two sons also died leaving Naomi with nothing. Naomi’s story is the kind our hearts break over. Why couldn’t God have shared the suffering around? Loosing your husband and then your sons is too much for one human to bear. Naomi’s story begs the question “Where is God in her suffering”, why doesn’t God step in and say “wow you have had enough let’s share the suffering around a little”.

There are many ways to look at suffering. Some people say there is purpose to Naomi’s suffering. They would argue that the suffering teaches her, it moulds and shapes her, and it makes her better for it. Some would say she is stronger because of the suffering. Some people say when they look back they see God was teaching them something that transforms them. If this is true we need to ask a much bigger question. Are you saying God allows us to suffer to learn something? – If this is true what kind of sick teacher is he?

Others would argue that Naomi’s suffering is pointless. They would argue that the world is chaos and no one is in charge so suffering just happens, get over it. If this is true then God is a heartless ruler who doesn’t care about his creation.

But there is another way of seeing suffering. First we need to recognise that there is another at work, we are in a spiritual battle. This battle isn’t between God and us but between us and the Devil himself. Satan is out to deceive, corrupt and destroy anything that is good. He has no purpose other that to create suffering and point us away from God’s goodness.

If Satan can convince us suffering is all God’s fault then he’s successfully caused the pain and now pinned the blame on someone else. The Devil is the one who causes the suffering not God, and Jesus is the one who comes to take on the whole system on the cross.

If suffering isn’t God’s making then we need to understand where God sits in the whole scheme of things.

In Matthew 5:3-4 it says that ‘Blessed are those who mourn’. The original word for blessed in the Greek is makorios meaning - in a good place, in the hands of the divine. In other words when you’re mourning or suffering you’re in the hands of the divine. Where is God in our suffering? He’s holding us, treasuring us and making sure we can’t fall too far.

The most encouraging verse in the bible has to be John 11:35 which describes Jesus at his friend’s grave… “Jesus wept”.

Where is God in suffering? He’s grieving and weeping with us. He weeps because this was never meant to be how the world was to work.

The reality is we know that Jesus’ death changes things, we know that one day there will be a place without pain, suffering or tears but today we know we live in the kingdom that is “Now and not yet” We see God breaking in, God’s kingdom cutting through the darkness but we still sit in a place longing for more.

The story of Naomi ends with God rebuilding her life, with her daughter in law remarrying and having children; Naomi is a grandmother.

Where there was no hope, with God there is in fact new hope.
Where there were tears we find new life.
Where there was pain we find a new freedom.
And were there was death we now find celebration.

Where is God in suffering?
He’s there rebuilding, reworking and reshaping.
He’s transforming and renovating.
God isn’t sat on the side-line watching the pain without care, but he’s in and amongst, getting his hands dirty.

God is transforming Naomi’s sorrow and suffering into exultant joy!

As Christians we do not accept that the way things are, are really the way things are. But that God will not rest until all are healed, all is restored and all are transformed into something beautiful.


Wounds & Scars

Every scar tells a story
Every scar is a lesson learned
It doesn’t hurt
Anymore
Each glance is a reminder
Of what to do
Or what not to
And how to go about it
Next time
A scar is done with
Something that’s over
Cut closed
Unrestricting to the here and now
Memory of a painful time but now that pain is gone
Only the lesson in memory, sparked by the sight of that scar, lives on

A wound is messy, present, unpredictable
Each open wound is painful still
A wound inhibits, prevents, disables
Any unsealed, unsorted wound can keep one from carrying on
A wound slows progress
No continue
The present pain and uncertain outcome at all times, whether known or unknown, conscious or ignored, still debilitates
And without the proper treatment
A wound will never heal
If no desire to move forwards the convalescence slows
If mistreated, in the absence of purifying water, and instead the presence of the profane, the unclean,
Recovery period stretches further into the future and may never become reality
Held back, incapacitated, afflicted constantly
Wounded permanently

So here we lie each one
Some multiply-ly wounded
Others with only one
Nobody emerging at this point unscathed
Everybody scarred
The task, the quest from this position in order to complete the mission, fulfill potential of this commission, is all wounds to heal
And of all scars be wary
For what fool takes or makes the same wound twice?
From that which causes no further pain but is a source of monumental memory, let’s learn
Celebrate the scars,
By paying them respect, response, return
But don’t reopen them
Don’t make new old wounds
To restart recovery does no good
And what of wounds still open?
Well, treat them well, and do not cling to them or pay them too much heed
For soon they too will be only scars moving us forward
Reminders of lessons learned
Exactly what we need

So here we lie each one
Some multiple-ly wounded
Others with only one
Nobody emerging at this point unscathed
In this great hospital of Life
Hope battered, but not barred
The task: to heal the wounds of another
And have yours mended by no mere ‘lover’
But by fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers
Paralyzing infection of these wounds to catch
To reach a point of celebration after strife
It’s okay, it’s alright,
Everybody’s scarred.

By Luke Briggs


LENT EXPERIMENT PART 1

What would happen if a group of people decided to take something up this Lent instead of giving something up? What would happen if a group of people tried to be just a little bit nicer? What would happen if we all committed totally senseless acts of niceness?

This Lent, we’re gonna see how life is just generally lovelier when we do good things. Every day we’ll give you a choice of two nice things to do the next day. Pick either (or do both!).

Peace and love x

Download from here…

MOBILE VERSION lent_experiment_40_days_mobile_version.pdf

PRINT VERSION lent_experiment_part_1.pdf


Kicking Off in Bow - EDEN BOW

BLOG TAKEN FROM http://eden-network.org/its-all-kicking-off-in-bow/

On Sunday morning in East London, Eden Bow‘s Team Leader Alex got a message from her next door neighbour asking if they knew of the whereabouts of Rory and Anna who lived down the road. She had just walked past their house and seen that their door had been kicked in…

The beautiful original Victorian door which Anna had spent days sanding down after they moved in, had been broken irreparably. The police were called and an hour or so later Anna and Rory returned from their weekend away to the sight of police about to board up their house. Thankfully nothing was taken, it seems whoever did it ran in, saw nothing of value they wanted to take and ran out quick.

It could have been a horrible Sunday for them and those who knew them. The violation of having your door kicked in and the discovery that two other neighbours had their doors kicked at too over the last two days could have bred real insecurity.

Fixing a neighbour’s door in Bow“Instead God used it for good,” said Eden’s Alex. “The Christians on our street had been having a Feast Fortnight – each night eating at a different person’s house, and Sunday lunch was going to be at Rory and Anna’s. So we went ahead with it anyway, resulting in 18 of us carrying chairs and plates and pans from all over the street and then hanging out at their place.

“Phil fitted two new locks on the door so it was secure enough until a new one could be fitted, whilst children played in the living room. Others in the community who walked past stopped to say hello, as we all milled around chatting. Then after lunch some of us went knocking on the doors along the street, to let them know what had been happening and to ask if they wanted to be part of an informal neighbourhood watch for the next 10 days.

For us in Bow, Eden is here to be community and that Sunday was a great example of it – one year in, neighbours knowing each other well enough to be able to ring round when they see broken doors; fitting new locks whilst dinner for 18 is cooking; neighbourhood watches being set up. Not caring about your beautiful door because the building of community is even more beautiful!”

If you want to know more about the Eden Bow team, take a look at their team page and email Alex bow@eden-network.org

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