Have you ever heard your parents say this to you? I can remember a time or too when it was said to me. However, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I saw the truth in that statement. We never had to discipline our children much but when the need arose, it broke our hearts.
It’s the same with God.
He loves us so much and He wants to keep us on the right path. And as we know there are times that the only way to keep us on the straight and narrow is to apply the rod of discipline.
I learned this lesson when I was hit with chronic pain in 2011. It was excruciating. But as time went by I realized that God was trying to get my attention. I was “working for the Lord” … very busy with children’s ministry and other things that draw the attention of a pastor’s wife. But in retrospect, God was saying to me, ‘Hey, you going out on your own and forgetting to rely on Me.” It was then that I turned my attention back to God. I got serious about studying His Word. And I found this statement from David.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I could learn your statutes.
God Allows Pain and Suffering for Many Reasons
Certainly, God allows pain and suffering because He loves us. But there are other reasons as well. C.S. Lewis states in The Problem of Pain,
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Have you ever noticed that when tragedy comes, this is when people turn back to God? (At least for a while). And this is God’s purpose. .. to draw us back to Him. He did it time and again in the Old Testament. We may need to repent of sin or just develop our faith. You see, He doesn’t want us to stay infants in Christ. He wants to bring us to maturity.
Like a Shepherd, He gently guides
We, humans, are like sheep. dumb and ignorant. God places us in a green pasture and we start gobbling up the grass, never looking to the right or the left. Until that moment, when we look up and we are nowhere near the rest of the flock and now we don’t know how to get back.
So we need a shepherd to guide us and correct our paths. Just as David said in the 23rd Psalm. He allows us to go through the shadows of death, but He is right there to guide us and comfort us. He never leaves us alone.
Not long after my illness began, a friend reminded me of a wonderful book, Hannah Hurnard’s Hinds’ Feet in High Places.
a timeless allegory dramatizing the yearning of God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy, and victory. In this moving tale, follow Much-Afraid on her spiritual journey as she overcomes many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places. There she gains a new name and is transformed by her union with the loving Shepherd.
Hind’s Feet in High Places, Hannah Hurnard
One surprising element in the book was that the Shepherd gave her a guide named, Suffering. Why would she want this guide? But the Shepherd assured her that Suffering was the best guide she could have. I have found it true as well. My pain and suffering has kept me at the feet of Jesus and caused my faith to continue to grow.
Even Years of Pain and Suffering are for our advantage
I just reached year 9 of chronic pain. LIke Paul I have talked with God about taking the pain away. But God and I have come to an understanding.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
You see, I have found that through my pain I have many blessings.
I am maturing in Christ daily.
Writing and blogging have been my new ministry.
Friendships around the globe have been cultivated.
I have more empathy for those who suffer.
Becoming an advocate for others who suffer.
I previously wrote about these things and came to one conclusion, If pain is what it takes to keep me in the center of God’s will, then …
I agreed to review this book because of my own journey with pain. What a great reminder of the reasons God allows pain and suffering in our lives. Just as we discipline our children when the veer off the path of righteousness, God also loves us enough to direct our path on the straight and narrow.
All of us will at some time, experience a bit of pain and suffering. That is when it is time to remember that God is with us in the Furnace of Affliction and it is for our good.
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It’s Your Turn!
Join us in the Legacy Link-up! SHare a post of testimony. How is God guiding and directing your life?
In today’s society, many would want you to believe that God is distant or uninterested in our lives. That’s is if He exists at all. But I find Him very near to my heart. Ever watching and directing my life.
Today, I’d like to show you how God strives to be near us. I recently read Dee Brestin’s new book study, The Jesus Who Surprises. In the past, I have seen Jesus throughout history but this book study brought new excitement about how much Jesus (and God) has been involved with us since before the creation of the world.
Thou has formed us for Thyself,
and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.
Augustine, The Confessions
God has always desired to be near us.
He created us for the very purpose of having a relationship. In the very beginning, God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit existed together as one. They were (and are) the epitome of LOVE. That love grew to the point of desiring more fellowship. So They, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, together created the universe.
Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before they created the world but that this kind of love cannot help but spread. He spoke of the living God as a life-giving, warming sun who delights “to spread his beams and his influence in inferrior things, to make all things fruitful.
Dee Bristen, The Jesus Who Surprises, chapter 2
His spirit hovered over the darkness waiting for someone with whom to be relational. God created the earth, the waters, the mountains, the skies. He said, “It is good.” (Genesis 1)
Then finally, He reached down with His hands and took the dust from the earth and created Adam in His own image. He bent low to the earth and breathed breath into Adam’s lungs. [Genesis 2:7] [He was not distant.] Because He didn’t want the man to be alone, He took a rib from the man and created a woman for him to love. Then He said, “It is very good.”
God Maintained Fellowship with Adam
Every evening God came down to earth to fellowship with Adam and Eve. God loved Adam so much; He did not want to force Him to return His love like a robot. So He gave man the opportunity to choose for himself. He set rules before him that would give him a wonderful life and would allow him to fellowship with Him continuously. There was only one DO NOT given, Do NOT eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. [Genesis 2:15-17]
Fellowship was Broken by Man
Sadly, Adam and Eve thought what would be the harm of eating from the tree. So they ate. And then they knew the harm. They suddenly felt the shame of their disobedience. And they covered themselves with leaves and hid in the bushes. [Genesis 3]
When God came that evening to fellowship together with them, they could “not be found”. God called to them, “Where are you?” But their shame made them fearful to present themselves to God knowing that they had sinned. God’s desire for fellowship never changed, but Adam and Eve chose to be distant.
But God Did Not Want to Be Distant with Adam and Eve
So he provided a way for them to restore that fellowship. Again, He remained near to solve the problem. He killed an animal to use the skins for a covering. The spilling of blood would be the only way to cover the sins of man. At least for then, God promised that one day He would provide a perfect lamb to cover their sins.
Yes, God could have remained distant right then and left a chasm between Himself and Man. But He came down to them. He gently brought their sin to their attention, but then He provided clothing. And He promised to provide an advocate, Jesus.
God Works Through History to Restore Man to Himself
All through the centuries, He came near to them, guiding and directing their lives. They would turn away and become distant from Him and He would gently draw them back to Himself. He promised to take their hearts of stone and live within them. So many times, mankind turned away, but God came close again and again. [ Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10 ] Again let me share the words of Dee…
The Bible isn’t about us but about Jesus. Jesus is the greater Adam, who resists the temptation that felled teh first Adam. He is the greater Isaac, who is sacrificed for our sin. Jesus is the greater Moses, who leads His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. And Jesus is the great sacrificial lamb, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He came to earth to live with us. His son, born of a virgin, he came as a man, yet still God. His name was Jesus. [ Luke 1 & 2] He lived among them and taught them. But mankind again turned away. They refused to believe it was God in the flesh. They crucified Him on a cross made for thieves and murderers.
BUT GOD, raised Jesus to life again, defeating the grave, death, and evil. [Matthew 28] Once again and for all time the chasm between God and man had a bridge. The Distance was removed and we can fellowship with Him once again. Our sins are covered because Jesus paid the full price of the punishment.
He Desires a Marriage-like Relationship with us
Throughout the Bible, you will find descriptions of the kind of relationship God desires with us likened to a marriage. That is how much He loves us. Think of your first love; how you wanted to be with your love every moment. And when you were apart, you could only think of them. This is how God desires to be with us. God created marriage as a beautiful relationship so that we could understand the possibility of having a relationship with Himself. Songs of Solomon is the perfect Biblical example. There is nothing distant about a marriage relationship. God desires the ultimate love story with us. Dee Brestin put it this way.
This earthly love storypoints to the ultimate love story, that of Christ and His bride. A metaphor that the bride uses in this Song [of Solomon] to describe her beloved has penetrated my heart and helped me to trust Him when He hides.
Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises, Chapter Two
There are many more marriage metaphors within the Bible: Ruth and Boaz, Hosea who married a prostitute to and kept redeeming her to show us how God keeps running after us even when we sin, and absolutely we can look to Revelations 19 and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
God has given us the choice to be distant from Him or not distant. He has given the choice throughout scripture. The most obvious is when Joshua told the people to choose.
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
in the Psalms
King David shares in the Psalms many times that God is guiding and directing us. Showing us the way to go. He desires us to choose Him but ultimately, the choice is ours to make.
I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.
Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.
Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.
Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 25:12
In the Gospels
When he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
in the Epistles of Paul
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-11; Romans 13:2
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
And Finally, in the New Earth
As we study the Bible and see Jesus in everything, we will realize that this world is not our home. our Desire to be united with Jesus will increase more and more. This world and its evil will be destroyed. God will renew all things. The New Earth and the New Jerusalem will come down. We will live in the New Eden in perfect fellowship with God once again. The prophet Isaiah said and is quoted by the Apostle Paul.
No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, not the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
What a day that will be! C.S. Lewis said,
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.
Let me close with one last quote from Dee’s book.
But indeed, the invitation to our real home is open to all who choose to receive the free gift Jesus offers. He paid the price He did not owe so that we could have the life we do not deserve. It is a free gift, but you must come to Him in repentance and faith…. This is the Good News of the Gospel.
My hope is that seeing this same story from Genesis to Revelation will give you great confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures and the truths they hold. For Jesus that surprised the two on the road to Emmaus, and surprises us in our everyday lives, is not at all finished surprising us.
Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises
God is Not Distant
I pray that you know Him today. If you are skeptical or if you love Him and just want to celebrate His beautiful plan, Please get your hands on one of these study books. You won’t regret it.
P.S. Dee Brestin’s book is available now for purchase as well as her free videos studies. Find them here.
My first desire would be to talk with one of my grandparents. I would love to sit on the porch swing one more time with my grandmother and, this time, talk about things that matter. I would ask her about the day she got saved. Perhaps I would ask her more questions about her life and my parent’s lives. Then definitely, I would be sure to ask for a few recipes.
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A Great Conversationalist
What we may already know about him is confirmed on the jacket of this book. A few lunches with Lewis would be interesting in the least… possibly eye-opening and heart-revealing.
… his mind traveled through a wide and varied terrain: from atheism of his early life to his conversion later in life; from his rational skepticism to his appreciation of value of human desires and imagination; from his role as a Christian apologist during World War II to his growth as a celebrated author of classic children’s literature.
If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis by Allister McGrath
Who is Allister McGrath
McGrath like Lewis started out as an atheist. He wanted to go to college to study science and prove that God did not exist. He kept being pulled back to reading Lewis’ works until, he too, could resist Christianity no longer. Before he knew it he had become quite a student of Lewis to the point of writing on him in several articles, books and even a biography of Lewis.
He states in this book (Lunch with Lewis) that he likely wouldn’t want to ask questions as much as he would just like to thank him for his guidance all along the way.
A Synopsys of Lewis’ Books
This book discusses many of the writings of Lewis in the form of answering questions posed. To this point, I had only read The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and Surprised by Joy. “Lunch with Lewis” gave me a great amount of information and interest in several other books. I found myself often making a note “to read this book”. Indeed, I recall reading Mere Christianity and wondering to myself why I had waited so long to read it. Before I finished it, I was saying, “I must read this book again.”
McGrath developed 8 different “lunches” with C.S. Lewis where he discusses different topics. Using the works of Lewis, McGrath shares what he believes Lewis would say to us about these topics.
Right off the bat, McGrath finds Lewis asking us more questions than we are asking him. But these questions are somewhat rhetorical, that is, they make us step back and think.
How are my friends influencing me? What task lies ahead of me that demands a community of support? How can I support my friends? Am I spending enough time and energy cultivating real friendships? And is friendship an end or a means—something good in itself or a good to be consumed?
Our Part in the Stories of Narnia
As you might expect, it takes more than one “lunch” to discuss Narnia. McGrath suggests that before we are even able to ask our questions about Narnia, Lewis would ask us, “Where do we fit in these stories?”, and leaving us with this thought…
The story we believe we are in determines what we think about ourselves and consequently how we live. For Lewis, Christianity doesn’t just make sense of things. It changes our stories. It invites us to enter into, and be part of, a new story.
Lewis as an Apologist
And what of finding the truth in Christianity? Many would say that C.S. Lewis was instrumental in bringing them to their faith. Lewis, also, credits other apologists for pointing the way for him. And so, Lewis challenges us to be apologists as well, so that, others may come to know God. We must find ways in our own era/culture that will connect with people in order to pass the faith along.
Christians can’t just tell one another that their faith makes sense. They’ve got to get that message over to their culture at large.
Other Topics Covered
And there’s more. More “lunches with Lewis” that I will leave for you to discover. To whet your appetite, let me just mention the topics of education, suffering, and the afterlife. All of these have excellent discussions you won’t want to miss.
What of Our Own Legacy?
This book is more than just “cliff notes” on a book. Lewis, through McGrath, challenges us to think and re-think your faith. More than just your faith, you will begin to consider…
What difference are you making in the lives of others?
What memories are you leaving behind?
Has our influence changed lives?
Remembered by God
Yet Lewis himself might helpfully remind us at this point that the most important thing is that each of us, whether remembered by others or not, is remembered by God. And that’s what really matters. Human history may forget about us, as it has forgotten so many. But our names are engraved on God’s hands, and written in the Book of Life—a fitting, even inspiring, thought with which to end our series of lunches with Lewis.
I suggest that you go find a few C.S. Lewis books and read them. If you don’t know where to start, start with “Lunch with Lewis“. Perhaps it will guide you to where you want to begin.
Reading to Strengthen What I Believe;
I purchased this book and I am giving my own honest review on my own accord. *****