Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Part 2: Joyfully living life to its fullest in Plan A (because there is no Plan B)

So, at the end of Part 1, I asked the question:  How could a God of love decree so much suffering?  Well, I am going to start answering that by using passages of scripture and quotes from Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes's book that I am currently reading: When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty.

I want to first establish God's omnipotence and sovereignty that Steve brings out in Chapter 6.

Daniel 4:34c-35 - "...for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'" (ESV)
Psalm 33:10-11 - "The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations." (ESV)

To sum up what Steve says, God doesn't just permit or allow suffering, but He decrees it and acts deliberately.  

Some other verses Steve shares in chapter 5 indicate this fact as well:

Psalm 139:15-16 - "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (ESV)
Lamentations 3:37-38 - "Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?" (ESV)
Exodus 4:11  - "Then the LORD said to [Moses], 'Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD'?" (ESV)

God even ordained and decreed the suffering of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the one who is part of the trinity-God's being:
Acts 4:27-28 - "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." (ESV)

Job recognized God's sovereign decree in his suffering:
“...The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21 ESV)
“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10b ESV)
“...And [his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before] showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him...” (Job 42:11b ESV)

Steve sums up God's omnipotence and sovereignty well:
"But in simple language, God runs the world. 'The LORD works out everything for his own ends--even  the wicked...''Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.' (Proverbs 16:4; Psalm 115:3)." (p. 76, Tada and Estes)

I encourage you to read When God Weeps to get the full meat of this matter.  Steve does a wonderful job of laying it all out there.  So, it is clear that God has ordained the suffering in my life as well as my children and everyone else in this world, but does God care about our suffering? Stay tuned for Part 3!

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