Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Suffering and the question of Why

My skin cancer is back - in two new places.

What is the point?

Why does Jesus allow suffering? Well, there are many reasons, but the one that I want to focus on is this. God uses pain, tragedy, loss and difficult relationships because these things bring to the surface characteristics of ours, nasty disgusting characteristics that remain hidden in times of ease.

Once we are aware of these characteristic we have the choice, the opportunity to decide - Do I pick up my cross, obey Jesus and allow Him to transform me into His likeness, or do I choose to disobey Jesus and carry on as per normal. That's one of the opportunities that comes through suffering.

Our hardships also bring us closer to Jesus.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

Did you notice? We WILL go through deep waters, difficulty, oppression. Christians are not promised, nor should we expect to be spared the suffering and loss that comes with life on this planet. However, we who are part of God’s family can know beyond all doubt that our difficulties are not for nothing. They have meaning and context and purpose.

For atheists and pagans, life's difficulties are just an annoying and truly tragic waste of time. Something to be avoided at all cost. Something that usually drives them even further from God. Richard Dawkins has expressed amazement that trouble actually brings Christians closer to the One who brought or allowed the trouble to come into their lives. How could he think otherwise when the main goal of pagans is to create a life of ease?

When we who are citizens of Heaven grab hold of Jesus' hand and with eyes wide open step into life's suffering, we experience the power of the living God. "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

“In all things (suffering, loss, tragedy) God works together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. In all these things (suffering, loss, tragedy) we are more than conquerors.”

The long and winding road of suffering is meant to bring us to obedience. I too, along with the apostle Paul thank God for another opportunity to draw closer to Him, to learn from Him, to realine my priorities.

Thank you Father for your love, and mercy and grace.


  1. It's sad... Good luck!


    Perhaps you could stop lying though...

    For atheists and pagans, life's difficulties are ...

    ...the main goal of pagans is...

    No matter what you put after such words, it's probably going to be wrong (and it was wrong in this case).

    You just don't understand others, not all of them for sure, and you often make mistakes but rarely correct them.

    So just focus on what you believe, what you like, and let others think for themselves.

    Take care.

  2. I remember a woman years ago who was suffering from a terminal illness and yet her spirits remained high. She was eventually bedridden and no one could understand her attitude. She was asked wasn't she angry with God for this. While I can't remember her exact words, she said something like this: "What does it matter whether He takes me on a road through the desert or through a meadow as long as the glorious destination remains the same?"

    It has been almost 25 years now - and I have never forgotten that when I face difficulties.

    May God give you peace and the knowledge of His abiding presence as you face the challenges ahead.

  3. Ya, good line. I'd shorten up the time frame just a bit.

    "What does it matter whether He takes me on a road through the desert or through a meadow as long as He is with me on our walk, its glorious nature remains the same."

    Thank you for the encouragement.

  4. So what’s the deal Hugo? Help me understand your atheist world-view. Why is having my cancer come back a sad thing?

    Wasn’t it you who said that life, all by itself was glorious?

    Yes, I’m pretty sure it was you who said that. Yep - here it is.

    “What an amazing life we have to be able to know that no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the emotional or physical cost, no matter the loss, the degree of suffering, the tragedy, the depth of darkness, . . .” blah, blah, blah - Hugo

    That’s what you said, Hugo, but you don’t mean that - do you? You mean a “good” life is glorious. A life free from trouble and suffering. That’s how an atheist describes a glorious life - right?

    I’m pretty sure it is because when I said that atheists and run-of-the-mill pagans try to create a life devoid of difficulties you said - um - let me check - ah yes, here it is - you said, “You’re wrong, just don't understand others.”

    Yet, according to you having cancer is sad. So which is it? Tell me Hugo, how am I wrong? How don’t I understand you when you say that it’s sad that my cancer has returned.

    Enlighten us Christians on how atheists see life as glorious when suffering and tragedy and chronic illness sets in yet in the same breath tell me that cancer is sad.

    And while you're at it, help me understand an earlier comment of yours that went something like, "It's your delusion that God exists that allows you to do good and enjoy life."

    I've worked with several hundred people with real delusions Hugo. I've known several hundred others and let me tell you, not once has a delusion aided people in having a good life or a happy life. Delusions always and only destroy life. Delusions always and only make life worse.

    I know that you only believe things for which you have irrefutable evidence, so what evidence do you have that in my case a delusion has created such a positive improvement in my life?

  5. So what’s the deal Hugo? Help me understand your atheist world-view. Why is having my cancer come back a sad thing?

    From what I have read here, on this blog, over the past 2 years, I am forced to believe that you don't really mean that. You don't really care about what I could answer.

    So I am just going to reiterate what I said: it's sad that you found out that your cancer is back, and your interpretations of what I might think are wrong.

    That's it...

    Good luck, and take care Rod.

  6. I thought atheists were ok with "I don't know. I guess what I'm saying doesn't make sense."