Posts tagged ‘Lazarus’

April 25, 2012

Personal Suffering

by pastortimfowler

Wow. I asked for some blog ideas yesterday and got quite a few suggestions. One of the questions has to do with personal suffering. This is something that most of us can relate to and there is much controversy over its place in the Christian community. The reason that I am responding to this one first is because I have had several people ask questions about this in the last week.
First place to start is why do we suffer stuff like sickness and disease? The simple answer is easy; sin. When God created Adam and Eve He intended for them to live forever. He told them that if they disobeyed that it would bring on death, and in that, pain and suffering. As we all know, they disobeyed and God kept His word. From that time on, pain and suffering were a part of our lives. As humanity reproduced, the sin nature is passed from generation to generation and therefore, we have and always will have pain and suffering.
This does not mean that God does not care about our physical well-being. However many churches make their claim to fame as one of healing the physical ailments of believers. Jesus was very compassionate when it came to those who were sick and lame. He healed them and committed much of His earthly time to this. But He healed more people who did not believe than those who already believed because He was dealing mainly with the Jews, they required miraculous signs to believe. (1Cor 1:22) Even in the early church when the Apostles performed miracles, most often it was to the unbeliever.
But God has never promised that we would always be healed of our physical ailments. In fact, even the Apostle Paul had physical ailments and wrote to the church about ways to help when they were physically sick. Not even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, was given permanent physical healing. One of the reasons for physical ailments in believers is so that we learn to depend on God’s grace to be sufficient. That is what God told Paul about his “thorn is the side”.
Jesus was asked why a boy was physically impaired and whether or not it  was because of his mother’s or father’s sin. Jesus told them that it was neither, but rather it was for God’s glory. Of course Jesus healed the boy and God was glorified, but still, the point was not that the ailment was a curse, just a fact of life. God wants us to ask Him for anything that we are concerned about. He does still heal today, but not everyone. Not even Jesus healed everyone that He came in contact with. So there is no promise of physical healing.
Many quote, and wrongly so, this verse from Isaiah, that says, by his stripes we are healed. They forget the rest of it. Isaiah 53:5 … But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. It was for our spiritual healing that He bled and died, not our physical. Way too many Christians become disappointed with God when they believe otherwise. We have the promise of eternal life, not this physical life.
Sadly, our society teaches us that if we don’t look like someone on a magazine cover that we are flawed. If we weigh more than this or don’t have muscles that show every detail, or our breasts are not the right size, or our hair is not bald, (I added that for me), them we are not right. But God made us unique and special to Him. The beauty that He sees is not on the outside, He looks on the inside. He sees the intent of the heart and loves us unconditionally.
Jesus said it best: John 16:33 …These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

October 11, 2011

Is It Fair?

by pastortimfowler

Sometimes it is impossible to understand God. If you are simply a human, it would be easy to think that God is cruel. This is especially true when things happen in our lives that really suck, and we think it should happen differently. A friend was telling me last night about a tragedy that happened where a young husband and dad died unexpectedly and that he couldn’t help but feel like it was not fair. It stinks, hurts, sucks, and a whole lot of other things, but I am not sure that fair is the right way to look at it. Don’t misunderstand, it is a legitimate question and the feelings are normal, but what is fair?
Here are the first two definitions in the dictionary for fair:
1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
If we use these definitions, then God is fair. God said to Adam and Eve, the day you disobey me, you die. He clearly stated in the law of Moses that some sins were punishable by physical death, and, we are all told that what we deserve for sin is death. We are told that it is inevitable that humans die and after that we are judged. So in death, God is fair. Does that mean we understand it? No. Does it mean we agree? No. Does it mean that God is cruel? No. He is fair, free from bias, dishonesty or injustice. He is a fair judge. What He does is proper under the rules. In every definition of fairness God stands the test of fairness.
We want fair to be, pleasing. We want fair to mean nobody wins and nobody loses and nobody gets hurt. That is not fair. Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles. He did not tell us to follow Him and He will never allow pain to come our way. He did say that He would never leave us alone in our pain and that He would make everything that we go through on this world worth it if we trust Him.
Where would we be if there were no pain in the world? What would it be like if we never had to hurt again? Would it be fair? Maybe, but I don’t think it would be that great either. We learn more from pain than we ever do from pleasure. When we place our hand on a hot surface, even after we have been told that it is hot, it is the pain that finally teaches us to listen. But if pleasure was such a good teacher we would have fewer people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Think about all the things that you learned from pain and then see if the pain was a good teacher now that you can look back on it. Most people would never want to suffer the pain again, but would definitely value the lesson learned.
Not much can be done to take away the hurt and feelings that come with someone close to you losing their life. Even Jesus wept when His good friend Lazarus died. But the fairness of God offers hope to those who mourn those losses. It is a hope that is hard to understand because it goes against what we want to feel at such times. It is a hope that does not come from ourselves, but from God and His promise of fairness. He promises that ANYONE who trusts Him and asks for the forgiveness of their sin will receive full pardon and not be given what we deserve, but instead be given eternal life. We can pass from this life of pain and suffering to a life free of all pain and suffering.
You see this life is but a vapor, but there is an eternity and you will be there in one way or another. Eternal death, is the eternal separation from God in what we hear of as Hell. Eternal life is when we pass from this life to forever with God in a place where death and pain and what we call unfairness will never happen again. God is so fair that He offers this to ANYONE who will ask. No matter what you have done, no matter how bad you think you may be, God’s love is fair to all and His forgiveness is complete to all. Don’t be fooled, His judgement is just as fair to all who refuse is forgiveness, no matter how good you have been or how good you think you are. God is holy, we are not, and without His forgiveness we stay unholy. It is that simple, because God is that fair.