God’s perspective on our lives is different from our own…
Pastor Hamilton raises that point and to be honest, when bad things happen to us, it is important to realize that.
James 4: 14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
From God’s point of view, life and death happens all the time. God has been the overseer of our planet for 4 billion years, has overseen creation for 14 billion years. Our lifespan whether it is 5 years or 100, is just a particle of microscopic dust in the vast expanse of time and our existence is truly a “mist.”
Yet God knows us by name, sees what we are doing all the time, knows the circumstances of our birth and death and grieves right along with us as we suffer our losses.
This all sounds so dire, except for one thing, one very important promise.
God sent His son Jesus to walk among us to prove to us that there is hope beyond the suffering and death that we will all experience. That hope is the promise of resurrection.
Jesus came and suffered the worst evil that a person could experience. He truly suffered and died and then rose again to show us that death is not the end.
Why did this have to happen to Jesus? Why did He have to suffer? Why did He have to experience the horrible evil of judgement, punishment and crucifixion? He had to go through this to show us that He understands suffering and that there something better beyond the suffering.
In Chapter 14 of Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White, Pastor Hamilton includes a quoted clipping from a church newsletter and I am going to quote it here. I like the way it uses the word “sometimes” and “may” because those words are key to us understanding God. They acknowledge that we don’t know the mind of God.
“Suffering is not God’s desire for us, but it occurs in the process of life. Suffering is not given to teach us something but through it we may learn. Suffering is not given to punish us, but sometimes it is the consequence of our sin or poor judgement. Suffering does not occur because our faith is weak, but through it our faith may be strengthened. God does not depend on human suffering to achieve His purposes, but sometimes through suffering His purposes are achieved. Suffering can either destroy us, or it can add meaning to our lives.”
I am reminded of James 1: 2-4, 12.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
When bad things happen to us, God is right there with us in the midst of the suffering. He is not the cause of the suffering, but He will take the suffering and use it.
To communicate a message.
To teach us a lesson.
To grow our faith.
To help us make a mid-course correction in our lives.
The ways God can use our suffering…the list goes on and on. He is God
As believers, we can experience the suffering, hold onto our beliefs and learn how to endure. We know not everyone can do that. Some lose their faith because they question God and they just won’t let God be God. They can’t accept the idea that God’s perspective on our lives is different from our own. They think God is the author of the suffering. Consequently they can’t believe in a God who causes their pain.
The world is a big place. From Chapter 14, “every minute 106 people die, more—more than 2,000 have died as you read this chapter [Chapter 14], and today 152,000 people will pass away.”
For us every pain is personal, every instance of suffering is significant and every death is hard to bear but God’s focus is on the “long view”.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”