Sunday, March 16, 2008

THE QUESTION WHY...March 16 weekly devotion

??????ASKING THE QUESTION WHY??????????????

So many times when my children were young, they would ask me WHY? Mom, why is the sky blue? Mom, why don't fish have feet? Mom, why do I have to eat broccoli? WHY, WHY, WHY!

We, as children of God also find ourselves asking the question of why. God, why are thousands killed in earthquakes? God, why do innocent teenagers have to be gunned down in their schools? God, why are precious children abused each day? WHY, WHY, WHY!

WHY is a natural question that many of us will ask in the midst of a crisis. We as humans are compelled to make sense out of our world. We want clarity! We want answers! Unsolved mysteries may make a great novel but when it comes to our lives...we want solved mysteries!

Last week in the YOUR OPINION MATTERS poll, I asked voters to vote on how they felt in a recent difficult or tragic experience. The top three responses in the poll stated this:

1. 54% of pollsters said they felt GOD'S PRESENCE WAS GIVING THEM STRENGTH
2. 16% felt that in their difficulty, GOD MUST BE TRYING TO TEACH THEM A LESSON
3. 8% said that GOD MUST BE TESTING THEM

Asking the question of WHY is not something new. Even people thousands of years ago were asking this same question. We can see this happening in Luke 13...

LUKE 13:1-5
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. (2) Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? (3) I tell you, No! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (4) Or those eighteen who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? (5) I tell you, No! But unless you repent, you too will perish."

This passage in Luke 13 would seem to me to be the perfect setting for Jesus to answer the question of WHY, however, He declined to. Instead he gave us a closer look at two different kinds of human suffering...EVIL and AFFLICTION.

EVIL SUFFERING: suffering at the hands of another
(examples: abuse, murder, rape)
Pilate inflicted this type of suffering on the people in Luke 13:1

SUFFERING OF AFFLICTION: suffering that is not caused or inflicted by others
(examples: natural disasters, famine, accidents, illnesses)
The fall of the tower that crushed the 18 in Luke 13:4 was an affliction

A closer look at this passage in Luke shows us that life's most tragic experience is NOT human suffering or victimization. In fact, according to verse 3 and 5, Jesus says the most tragic experience is perishing and facing eternity without God! The circumstances surrounding our death may be tragic but the power to choose Christ is still in our hands...

"YOU CANNOT CHOOSE HOW YOU DIE...BUT YOU CAN CHOOSE HOW YOU LIVE!"

Isn't one of the benefits of being a Disciple of Christ to be exempt from suffering and crisis? NO! Look at the sufferings of Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 and 12:7-10), if anyone because of faithfulness and obedience could expect exemption from suffering, it would be Paul. But yet he suffered greatly, greater than most of us ever will.

Suffering will relocate you both emotionally and spiritually! It is indeed life changing. Dorothy of Wizard of Oz had the best description of what suffering is like: "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto". The suffering in your life is like a tornado that picks you up, shakes and spins you and then deposits you far from where you started.

If you are in such a state of suffering, here are 3 DO NOT'S of suffering that will help you be an overcomer...

1. DO NOT expect immunity from suffering
I read about a German Theologist who was asked about his first visit to America. He was asked to give an impression of Christianity and Christians, Helmut Thielicke responded:

"American Christians have an inadequate understanding and response to suffering"

JAMES 1:2-4
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (4) And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

A JOYFUL LIFE IS NOT ONE THAT HAS NO PAIN AND SUFFERING!

2. DO NOT demand to know WHY the suffering occurred
Sometimes we think that eventually we will understand why, and when. Seldom, is the WHY question ever answered. We are much like the people in Luke that were questioning Jesus, we are not looking for facts but rather for reassurance and comfort. Asking WHY is an emotional question.

ANSWERS SELDOM BRING HEALING!

3. DO NOT require the suffering to be eased immediately
As Christians, we often times put God on "probation" because we feel like He is not doing His job of preventing or at least bringing quick relief from our suffering.

"Christ offers hope, not relief, in the middle of suffering, and He commands us to pursue Him even when we would rather stop and look after our own well being." - LARRY CRABB, Christian Psychologist

HOW CAN WE HAVE A TESTIMONY WITHOUT A TEST FIRST?

Are you asking God the question WHY? No matter what suffering you have endured, or about to endure, God does not want you to stay the same! Three "G's" to remember in your crisis...

GROAN...it is alright to mourn and cry!
GROW...in God's love, forgiveness and peace!
GIVE...give back to God by sharing with others the love, peace and forgiveness that you have found in Him during your suffering!

It is my prayer that this week as you reflect on the crisis or the difficult tragedies in your life that you will GROW and GIVE BACK.


Have a GROWING week!

Blessings,
Laurie


YOUR OPINION MATTERS:
Please take time to vote in this weeks YOUR OPINION MATTERS. This weeks poll asks about who gave you your recent dose of criticism. Please vote in the poll because your opinion really does matter!

THIS WEEK'S QUOTE TO PONDER:
DWIGHT L MOODY " God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."

THIS WEEK'S SCRIPTURE TO MEDITATE UPON:
PSALM 95:2 "Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!"


4 comments:

GRANNY J said...

LAURIE:
ANOTHER EXCELLENT WRITING FROM YOU. YOU ARE AMAZING & WONDERFUL.

YES, I AM ASKING "WHY ANOTHER SURGERY DO I HAVE TO HAVE.?" BUT GOD IS MY STRENGTH & MY REFUGE. HE IS THERE FOR ALL OF US WHENEVER WE NEED HIM & WHATEVER THE NEED IS. HE HAS PROVED THAT OVER & OVER TO ME.

HAVE A GODLY & GREAT WEEKK.

THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU.
MOM

Laurie Adams said...

Thanks Mom. God always brings something good out of our circumstances and I know that God will give you the strength and the courage to face whatever may come. I will pray for a good report this week as you go to the doctor.

Cheri said...

Great post!
It's hard sometimes in the midst of trial to know you're going to make it through. As my faith grows so does my love for the Father.
Thanks Laurie!

Anonymous said...

These are truly inspiring writings! Great style: easy to read and to-the-point. I can take a quick break and enjoy the message instead of putting it off because it's too much to read. That works! Guys ought to be reading them, too.
BW