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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Where Is God When It Hurts?

God always gives us what we need when we need it. I just finished reading Philip Yancey's book, Where Is God When It Hurts? The quotes I share below are just what I needed.

The symptoms and the illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before the symptoms. Rather than being the illness, the symptoms are the beginning of its cures. The fact that they are unwanted makes them all the more a phenomenon of grace-a gift of God, a message from the unconscious, if you will, to initiate self-examination and repair. ~M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled p. 25

Dr. Brand declares, "Thank God for inventing pain! I don't think he could have done a better job. It's beautiful." p. 32

The sensation of pain is a gift-the gift that nobody wants. More than anything, pain should be viewed as a communication network. p. 34

Pain-it's often seen as the great inhibitor, keeping us from happiness. But I see it as a giver of freedom. p. 44

. . . depriving some senses, such as through fasting, heightened others. Spiritual experience is nourished best in the wilderness. p. 53

I was prepared to honor and admire these servants, to hold them up as an inspiring examples. I was not, however, prepared to envy them. But as I now reflect on the two groups side by side, stars and servants, the servants clearly emerge as the favored ones, the graced ones. They work for low pay, long hours, and no applause, "wasting" their talents and skills among the poor and uneducated. But somehow in the process of losing their lives they have found them. They have received the "peace that is not of this world." p. 58

Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. So that what seems the ugly doctrine is one that comforts and strengthens you in the end. The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic. ~C.S. Lewis, God in the Dark p. 61

But there is a huge difference between the suffering most of us encounter-a skiing injury, a rare form of cancer, the bus accident-and the suffering-as-punishment described in the Old Testament. There, punishment follows repeated warnings against specific behavior. To be effective, in, fact, punishment requires a clear tie to behavior. Think of a parent who punishes a young child. It would do little good for the parent to sneak up at odd times during a day and whack the child with no explanation. Such tactics would produce a neurotic, not an obedient, child. p. 81

Against all evidence, he holds on to two seemingly contradictory beliefs: he, Job, does not deserve his tragedy, but still god deserves his loyalty. Job holds firm in the face of such jabs as "Are you more righteous than God?" p. 88

We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And that process may be served by the mysterious pattern of all creation: pleasure sometimes emerges against a background of pain, evil may be transformed into good, and suffering may produce something of value. p. 95

In some ways we in the East understand suffering from the opposite perspective. We believe that suffering may be a sign of God's favor and trust in the Christians to whom the trail is permitted to come. p. 98-99

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). A sick person is not unspiritual. And Christian faith does not magically equip us with a germ-free, hermetically sealed space suit to protect against the dangers of earth. That would insulate us from complete identification with the world-a luxury God did not allow His own Son. p. 99

Every time a non-Christian gets cancer, God allows a Christian to get cancer as well, so the world can see the difference. p. 109

"Rejoicing in suffering", does not mean Christians should act happy about tragedy and pain when they feel like crying. Rather, the Bible aims the spot-light on the end result, the productive use God can make of suffering in our lives To achieve that result, however, he first needs our commitment of trust, and the process of giving him that commitment can e described as rejoicing. p. 110

As Job himself said so presciently, "those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction". p. 111

Where is God when it hurts? He is in us -- not in the things that hurt-- helping to transform bad into good. We can safely say that God can bring good out of evil; we cannot say that God brings about the evil in hopes of producing good. p. 111

As Corrie said, "However deep the pit, God's love is deeper still." p. 158

We never know in advance exactly how suffering can be transformed into a cause for celebration. But that is what we are asked to believe. Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse. p. 161

The medical community now freely admits that in a larger sense a person's attitude is one of the chief factors in determining the effect of all suffering. p.168

I believe we in the body of Christ are called to show love when God seems not to. p. 184

I sometimes dream of producing my own line of get-well cards. I already have an idea for the first one. The cover would have huge letters, perhaps fireworks in the background spelling out CONGRATULATIONS!!! Inside, this message: "... to the 98 trillion cells in your body that are still working smoothly and efficiently." p. 190

Orville Kelly, the founder of Make Today Count, expressed this quality of courageous hope well: "I do not consider myself dying of cancer, but living despite it. I do not look upon each day as another day closer to death, but as another day of life, to be appreciated and enjoyed. p. 215

How did God-on-earth respond to pain? When he met a person in pain, he was deeply moved with compassion (from the Latin words pati and cum, "to suffer with"). p. 229

Jesus' decision to operate as the invisible head of a large body with many members affects our view of suffering. It means that he often relies on us to help one another cope. The phrase "the body of Christ," expresses well what we are called to do: to represent in flesh what Christ is like, especially to those in need. p. 241

Pain is the very mechanism that forces me to stop what I'm doing and pay attention to the hurting member. In short, the healthiest body is the one that feels the pain of its weakest parts. In the same way, we members of Christ's body should learn to attend to the pains of the rest of the body. In so doing we become an incarnation of Christ's risen body. p. 242

In the body one cell or group of cells grows and flourishes at the expense of the rest, we call it cancer and know that if it is allowed to spread the body is doomed. It would be much easier for us to avoid people in need. Yet ministering to the needy is not an option for the Christian, but a command. 243

Today if I had to answer the question "Where is God when it hurts?" in a single sentence, I would make that sentence another question: "Where is the church when it hurts?" We form the front line of God's response to the suffering world. p. 247

After a few moments' thought McQuilkin replied, "I think God has planned the strength and beauty of youth to be physical. But the strength and beauty of age is spiritual. We gradually lose the strength and beauty that is temporary so we'll be sure to concentrate on the strength and beauty which is forever. It makes us more eager to leave behind the temporary, deteriorating part of us and be truly homesick for our eternal home. If we stayed young and strong and beautiful, we might never want to leave!" p. 255

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:10) p. 257

An irony: death, the one event that causes the greatest emotional pain, in reality opens a doorway into the great joy of eternity. p. 258

Keith Miller once said, "Pain is like fertilizer. It stinks when you're around it, and you hate it. But after a while you realize that that despicable stuff provided the nutrients for your growth." Do you agree? p. 269

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