We will question why it is important for Christians to understand how God’s providence works and where they will find strength in God during the midst of suffering. This topic is one of vital importance to help overcome obstacles in life and to grasp that faith in God doesn’t protect people in a way they sometimes expect to be protected. Badger-Saye’s article begins with what he regards as bad theology. He uses a letter that was sent to his friend who was suffering with cancer to demonstrate bad theology.
The Christian women said in the letter that it was God’s will that he shall be miraculously healed, all he had to do was believe. If he was not healed, she implied it would be his own fault. She assumed that God controls all events, she had to create a justification for God’s apparent inaction in this case. In response to the letter the cancer patient refuted the idea that his faith had any direct affect on how he may be healed, but gave him strength in the face of suffering and to believe his suffering would be absent in his next life (Bader-Saye 2007).
Furthermore to believe in a God that provided instant healing from suffering would mean that God had a bias toward the faithful, that granted their every wish. This belief contradicts the universal love of God as shown in the scriptures, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
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The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ” (1 Tim. 1:12).
Bader-Saye also points out that Jesus made his view quite clear that suffering and tragedies did not result in a lack of faith, the victims did not deserve their death or affliction anymore than anyone else (Bader-Saye 2007).
The protection that God provides us with is the assurance of provision and the promise of redemption. This is often not easy to comprehend when one is suffering or has witnessed terrible atrocities.
The author points out how one should respond to the circumstances of one’s life, by using an acting analogy. The reaction to events that happen in one’s life or possibly God’s providence can be taken three ways, by accepting, blocking or overaccepting. To accept is simply to accept the situation. Blocking is the refusal to co-operate with the situation, either to reject or to begrudge the confronting issue. Overaccepting indicates a willingness to receive any situation as a piece to the larger life puzzle, trusting that redemption will come one day, in this life or the next (Bader-Saye 2007).
Bader-Saye provides the story of Joseph in Genesis as an example to demonstrate overaccepting, “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
As a result of overaccepting one must believe that the end result will be good, because God epitomises good. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. ” (Phil 2:13) The most powerful example of overaccepting is the crucifixion of Jesus, he accepts the evil done to him to fulfill the will of God, and to accomplish the reason for his being.
This tells us a great deal about how God acts in the world. If God does not use influencing power to block evil and suffering, then why should we expect God to manipulate the painful circumstances from which we seek. Bader-Saye concludes by stating that the seeking of the kingdom of God should be our first priority, being safe and secure in our personal lives should not take preference over being faithful. If being faithful leads to suffering or harm, then one should take security in Gods providence and redemption. One must trust that God will reincorporate all things in the heavenly city (Bader-Saye 2007).
... to his disciples and many more. To me suffering is something that can either make you a ... a tight grasp on faith if life was continuous pain and suffering.. ... and used intelligent answers instead, and for this God rewarded them. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus ... that if we voice our concerns and obey God then all of our hopelessness and anger will ... The Mid-Wives "feared God" and so the saved the baby boys ...
To grasp the concept of overaccepting can be quite trying during difficult times, it often tests ones faith to the limit. Some people who once believed in God’s providence eventually give up on God all together because they don’t see direct answers to their prayers. This is all the more reason to grasp overaccepting, so suffering is not permitted to defeat them and they can move on with their lives gratefully. Two common responses by people during times of despair are “It’s part of Gods plan,” and “God is punishing us for our wrong doing. Both of these statements assume that human freedom and responsibility can be limited by God’s plan (Scovell 2004).
The assumption that God is the direct cause of all that happens in the world, implies that we are mere puppets controlled by the master . The second assumption, that God is punishing us for our wrong doings is as absurd as the first (Hauser 1995), the entire belief that Jesus died for our sins gives us a chance to repent and confess our sins. To suggest God goes around enforcing suffering on sinners as punishment, is misguided, this removes the need of Jesus to have ever walked on this Earth .
Evil does exist in the world. It strikes at the great and the obscure, the virtuous and the vile, the young and the old with arbitrary indifference (Artson 1998).
Therefore it is inevitable that suffering will occur because of the existence of evil, but through overacceptance it can be overcome. Overacceptance involves forgiveness towards the cause of the infliction, to forgive with compassion and love, not excusing the offense but understanding the pain from which almost every offense proceeds.
God is the one who forgives and reconciles, we can learn what it means by entering a relationship with God which risks being wounded (Garvey 1999).
During the time of suffering how does God strengthen us? In the same way that God does not directly move us like chess pieces in the game of life, he does not directly exalt us by taking away our pain or relieve us from our worries. We find strength in God during suffering by knowing we are not facing our suffering alone, along with the promise of redemption and salvation. As Paul writes about his suffering, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
... much more prayer and meditation. Whatever God’s plan for my life is I know I will be able ... for ourselves naturally. Since so much money and time goes into becoming certified in the medical profession the ... alternative medicine store and it filled me joy every time I could recommend a product with no side ... truly understand one’s purpose in life he must look at the talents God has given to him in a ...
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. ” (Hauser 1995) So to block the suffering as described by Bader-Saye, is to not use the strength found in God to move past the grievance and to not have the vision to see it amidst the bigger picture.
Many of our troubles often turn out as blessings in disguise in the long run, “My troubles turned out all for the best, they forced me to learn from your textbook. ” (Psalm 119:71) So to block them we are only prolonging the suffering and are not continuing towards the promise of God. In conclusion, the message from the tutorial reading makes a valuable point. Misfortunes and evil fall upon us unavoidably throughout our lives, they do not fall upon us as a result of ones bad behavior or because God controls every aspect of our lives.
Suffering is often unable to be explained, sometimes words are not an appropriate response for the evil that is done. It is not easy to accept misfortune and eagerly look towards the future, as overaccepting implies. If we learn from Christ and attempt to comprehend the way he lived and faced hard times, and find strength in God during the times of suffering, it is possible to relieve the suffering and move past the circumstances of the moment, and direct ourselves towards the final Kingdom of God.
Bibliography Artson, Bradley Shavit (1998), ‘On Suffering’, Tikkun, Volume 13 (Issue 4).
Bader-Saye, Scott (2007) Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear [online text], Brazos Press Garvey, John (1999), ‘A God who hurts’, Commonweal, Volume 126 (Issue 17).
Hauser, Richard J (1995), ‘Where is God in suffering? ‘, Religion and Theology, Vol 172 (Iss 12).
Plantinga, Alvin ‘Warranted Christian Belief’, . Scovell, Rob (2004), ‘Understanding God’s Plan’, Waikato Times.