Sunday, November 18, 2012

Finding God in the Midst of Suffering - Ross Clark

"We suffer in relationships and search for answers"; and more precisely how we find God, or sometimes don't find God, in the midst of it.

Suffering will confront us all in one way or another. As the Greeks said, "God has ordained for mortal man that by suffering comes understanding". For me, the specific form of it I have had had to deal with is in relationship; or more precisely, the lack of relationship. To be honest, I have a longing to marry (though in this place, that is hardly a state secret); and at weddings, that longing can run very, very deep. But I am in a place where it seems that that longing can be neither met nor healed. Sometimes I feel like Moses on Mt. Nebo (Deut. 34), looking across at a Promised Land he could see but knew he could never enter.

Normally, I would "grin and bear it", as I am of a fairly stoic disposition. However, there is always something to aggravate a situation. I was told when I was younger, "Do the right thing and God will have someone for you. Don't, and ..." one was always left with the clear impression that there would be "consequences". Well, not only am I not married, but I've also had to see Christian friends of mine who broke every rule in the book, first "get away with it" and then, be given the blessing denied me.

So where is God in this situation? Can He be found? Indeed, He can be found, but more often that not He has to be asked in. Essentially, I've come to realise this.

First, I have met God directly in this "sea of troubles". And essentially, He has been very welcoming - no sense of criticism for all my doubts or questions. None of the "Job's Comforter" responses I have sometimes been lumbered with. If He has said anything, it is, "Nothing is wasted".

Second, I have met God though others, as people, including many of you, have stood by me on those occasions when I've proceeded to blow every fuse in the emotional box. That has been a marvellous "means of grace". Furthermore, it has given me light as I have come across suffering people and wondered what to do. It is a powerful way to express God's love when one listens - and loves - and does not judge.

The Bible has answers for human suffering, but they cannot be easy answers. Never let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

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