Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pain, Suffering, And The Song In My Head. . . .

Cornelius Plantinga's book on sin has a title that reflects reality: Not The Way It's Supposed To Be. No, it's not. And we know it. Some of us more than others. This morning, I've been thinking about people I know who are experiencing this reality in deep and distressing ways that I can't even begin to imagine. Not just one or two people. . . but a bunch. Today, these people are facing life-threatening illnesses, deadly disease, unknown diagnoses, relational breakdown, struggles with addiction, and the ongoing consequences of decisions made long ago. It seems like these things come in waves. . . you don't get hit in the head with a hammer or kicked in the stomach just once. . . it keeps happening and you get beat up. Echoes of the Psalmist's laments seem justified. . . "Where are you God???"

Last June, I blogged on suffering and included Robin Mark's song "All Is Well." A little over a month later, that song and its refrain was stuck in my head as I started my own recovery. That was one time I was grateful for a song getting stuck in my head. The depth of what I went through pales in comparison to the burdens friends are carrying this morning. Still, I'm hoping and praying that this message will minister to many today.

He does "lower us to raise us." Yes, "he raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap" (Psalm 113). May all my friends know God's grace, mercy, and peace today.

2 comments:

Jon said...

Thanks Walt! I'm walking through some of the same stuff with people, much of it I just found out today. While walking with someone isn't as painful, those of us who have that privilege, need to be reminded of this as well.

Ralph said...

You see this is what I don’t understand about literalism. How can we seriously believe the words – “He raises us from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (Psalm 113), when all around us and throughout history millions upon millions of devout believers have been needy and have not been lifted from the ash heap? They were born needy, lived needy, and died needy.

Also, you praise Robin Mark’s song that I listened to in entirety. He sings, “He lowers us to raise us so we may sing His praises”. Hey, we’re not yoyos. We are human beings with intense feelings. God would never play with our emotions like that. Let’s all do some 3-D thinking before accepting such obviously false statements. What earthly loving father would lower their children then raise them only for the purpose of having them sing praises to him? For what reason – power, glory, ego? Did you ever do that to your children? If a friend told you that he often put his children down and then raised them by praising them so that they would sing praises to him, what would you think? That's child abuse. God is so sure of Himself He need not do anything for adulation, and would never exploit our love for Him. Too often we become anthropomorphic in describing God. NEWS FLASH – a God that can create from absolutely nothing, billions and billions of galaxies, with each one containing billions and billions of planets, has absolutely no likeness to any of us. Try creating just one planet if you think God bears even the slightest resemblance to us.

As you have so astutely stated Walt, we MUST engage in “MINDFUL CRITIQUE OVER MINDLESS CONSUMPTION”. I have never heard it said more powerfully or concisely. Just because a person has a soothing voice and sings a beautiful song does not mean we should “mindlessly” consume the words as truth. No, we must “mindfully” critique it – does it make sense? Is it reasonable to believe given our knowledge, facts and experience with the statement?

Robin also sings, “He makes us rich and poor so that we might trust Him more”. What sense does this make? Does he mean that God makes some of us rich and others poor for life? Or does Robin mean that He makes all of us at one time or another rich and poor? Let’s take the first interpretation – God makes some of us rich and others poor for life. How could two diametrically opposed actions accomplish the exact same outcome of trusting God more? What criteria would He use to choose one person to be rich for life and another poor? And how would making one poor for life result in one trusting God more? We must mindfully critique such statements.

Now for the second possible interpretation that God makes all of us at one time or another rich and poor so that we might trust Him more. Harming one (making them poor after having made them rich) would result in the diametric opposite of having one trust Him more. Making one rich and never making them poor would result in building trust. That’s just common sense. And why would God ever make one rich when Jesus so wholeheartedly condemned the rich?

It is extremely dangerous for a society to consume beliefs without first critiquing them.