As a young pastor getting settled in Red Deer, I’ve become a bit unsettled by the number of times. I’ve already heard this comment or a variation of it, “I just can’t believe in a God who would allow this to happen to me.
“How can you call God powerful or loving if he makes me suffer this way?”
Maybe you have asked such a question or made such a comment.
It’s a good question to ask. How can God be loving and powerful when your RRSPs are dwindling and you’re worried what bad news your doctor will deliver next?
And if your mind has travelled down this road you know it only leads you to want to hate God and wish him out of existence.
As one who has been down that road and seen the endless despair and bitterness at the end, I know the feeling.
I also know that God is loving and powerful at the same time as I was hurting.
I say I “know” this on purpose — not “I think” or “I feel,” I know. I know this because I know the cross.
Only in the cross where God’s son, Jesus Christ, hung dying for sin does God make sense. Only where God’s power and justice were dished out on a perfectly innocent man, Jesus of Nazereth, can we begin to understand How God operates.
Only where God’s loving mercy is so clearly evident when his perfect Son, Jesus, took our place of deserved punishment can we begin to appreciate what God was doing for us.
Knowing what God did for you opens your eyes to what God is doing for you now. In the book of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul assures us this is the case where he writes, “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him,’ but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
We like to imagine that a “loving” and “powerful” God should use his love and power to make this world such a great place for us that we’d never want to leave.
We’d like to imagine that a God who is loving and powerful would use all that love and power just as we’d imagine.
The problem is such a god exists only in our imaginations.
There is a God who is loving and powerful. He is the God who demonstrated his love by sending his Son to save us.
He is the God who showed his power by raising that Son from the dead. He is the God who made all this known to us by revealing it through his Holy Spirit in the Bible.
God would have us know his love and power best in the place of bliss he is preparing for us in heaven. That’s not in my imagination; that’s something I know.
If you wait around for God to give you that heaven on this earth, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
God sent Jesus into this world not to make this world a better place to live in (although Jesus does this for those who live for him), but rather to prepare a better place for us to live in heaven.
Why does God do it this way? Why does he ask me to bear up under suffering now?
“No eye has seen . . . .”
At Mighty Fortress we don’t always have the answers to the why’s of suffering — but we know God is preparing us a place in heaven. As much as we love Red Deer, we know it’s not heaven. Knowing the good God has prepared for us there helps not to lose sleep when this life doesn’t seem that way. You can find out more about Mighty Fortress at www.mightyfortress.ca.
Geoff Cortright is pastor at Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church. He and other members of the Red Deer Ministerial Association share their personal views on Sundays and Mondays in Red Deer LIFE and Central Alberta LIFE, and encourage comments and questions from readers. These can be sent to LIFE.