Why Do We Suffer, Part 3

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We were made to live in a garden, surrounded by God's goodness. Click To Tweet

What went wrong?

The Beginning of Suffering

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  Genesis 3:1-10 (NIV)

Every time I read this, my heart breaks.

In choosing to eat from the tree, to acquire personal “knowledge” and “wisdom” apart from God, Adam and Eve immediately began to suffer the natural consequences of evil:

Decay and Death (verse 3)

They were created to know and experience God’s goodness alone.  Knowing evil was a poison that once entering their souls, suffocated their spirits with doubt, mistrust, shame, fear, and all manner of evil. Knowing evil altered their very core as their rebellion against their Creator imprinted on their souls. Thereafter the effects of rebellion and the knowledge of evil passed down from generation to generation.

Shame (see verse 7)

Before eating the fruit, their understanding of “good” came from the unchanging goodness of God’s character.  However, now, their sense of “good” would be based upon personal preference and circumstance. Ever-changing wisdom of man, rather than the unchanging character of God.

Their sense of “good” now saw shame in what God had made, so they covered their nakedness by sowing fig leaves to cover themselves in an attempt at providing their own goodness.

Fear (verses 8-10)

Evil is antithetical to Good – always has been, and always will be.  In listening to the serpent (Satan in disguise) and eating the fruit, Adam and Eve (as well as their offspring) became captive to Satan and sin, blinding them to God’s goodness.  Now aligned with the enemy of God, they feared the one who had made them.  God hadn’t changed, they had.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16 (NLT) Click To Tweet

Are We Any Different Today?

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)

On our own, we can’t restore what was lost; but God can.

The plan of restoration began even before Adam and Eve ate the fruit. And so the rest of this week, we will look at God’s restoration plan through the series, “Amazing Grace” in discussing “Who Is Jesus?”

This discussion was very difficult to write, and so took me much longer than normal to pen. Hence finishing up last week’s post this week.  These truths are so pivotal to understanding suffering in our lives and in the world; I didn’t want to mess it up.  

Again, I love discussion!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Why Do We Suffer? Part 1

I’ve asked this question in one form or fashion.  My son has asked, as he’s dealt with his father’s death, and every other thing he’s suffered through having autism. My step sons have asked as they’ve grappled with losing their mom.  My husband has asked. We may not all use the same words, but we have certainly asked, along with millions who’ve asked before us.  There will be millions after us.

Have I a pat answer?  No.  But I’ve grappled, and asked, and sought an answer in the only book I know can answer such questions authoritatively.  From the only author whose not only seen all suffering, but been through all suffering. The only One I know who can answer the question of suffering with personal experience, along with immense grace, mercy, and hope. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Here’s what I’ve come up with.  Please bear with me and don’t walk away before I’ve finished, with an “I know where she’s going, and I don’t want to go there.”  You may be surprised by the ending, if you wait it out.  Remember, I have several “t-shirts” as the backdrop to all of this.

God Made and Entrusted Adam to Rule Over His Creation

In the first days of creation, God waited until after he’d made the sun, moon, planets, land, oceans, sky, atmosphere, vegetation, fish, birds, and land animals. We were the last creature he made, and the pinnacle of his earthly creation. (Genesis 1, Genesis 2:15Psalm 8)

After, God said all he made was “good”.

God gave Adam the job of ruling over all he’d made, under him. That would be a “bit” more important than if the royal family of England called one day and asked one of us to run their kingdom for them, under their tutelage.   Pretty heady job! Along with this, Adam was tasked with tilling the ground and filling the earth with little Adams and Eves.

Don’t overlook this – God put Adam in charge.

God created Adam in his image – Adam’s ability and authority (his heart, compassion, courage, grace, mercy, and wisdom) to rule under God came from being made in God’s image.  

There Were No Barricades to Relationship

As God’s creation, made in his image, Adam longed to be in relationship with God. And God chose relationship with Adam.  This relationship was not forced but natural and beautiful, with nothing at this point to mar their communion as Creator and created. Nothing.

One of Adam’s first tasks was to name the animals.  The Bible says God brought each animal he’d made before Adam to see what he would name it.  I picture Adam sitting and thinking…contemplating… about each characteristic, each nuance, each detail of each creature as it came before him.  The Bible seems to insinuate God waited to see what Adam would name each animal, as if in anticipation. (Genesis 2:19-20)  I can imagine Adam talking it over with God, each together reveling in this moment when everything was new.

Of all the creatures in the garden, there was none like Adam.  So, God chose to give Adam a special gift.  He made one like him, to complement him, from his own body, and presented her to Adam, so that he wouldn’t be alone.  Adam named her – Eve.  There was no strife between them.  They were naked and unashamed. (Genesis 2:20-25)

Beautiful, huh!  No suffering at all.  Only “utopia”.  Something we’ve all longed for – not surprising as we all originated from this scene.  What happened?  Let’s continue the story tomorrow.

Until then,

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

 

The Only Right Response

In the burdens and busyness of daily activity, life sometimes takes on a hew of ordinary.  The sky is…blue. The grass is…green.  The breeze is…chilly. There’s a hint of rain in the air, and I must scurry and hurry to complete the next task.

However, when I slow enough to notice, the trees’ soft blossoms become delicate, aromatic, dainty. In those special moments, the bird’s melodic song warbles above me on a limb. I can laugh at the squirrels’ chasing one another in childlike delight.  The aroma of Spring wafts through the breeze as the rain patters on my umbrella.  I’m alive, and easily notice the Creator’s amazing artistry.

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And my soul echos a refrain to his praises.

Is it that creation’s beauty shows itself only on special occasions, like a child getting dressed for Easter?  Or is it in those moments when I’m busiest or most burdened, I’m not attuned to notice?

Have I allowed life’s burdens and cares to swallow me, rather than allowing the Creator’s life to envelope me and fill me so I’m able to respond to all he’s made and done?

If I were daily aware, what would creation’s amazing artistry confess to my soul?  And what would my soul cry back to our Creator?

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3-9 (NIV)

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Who is God?

He’s an amazing Manufacturer, Designer, and Artistic Creator.  His manual, the Bible, is full of detailed instructions on how to care for all he’s made.  It also includes details as to how we came to be, and for what purpose he made us.  It outlines his explicit rights as Manufacturer, Designer, and Creator of all he made.

We are so intricately made.  His creation so vast and immeasurable, that it behooves us to consider him, and his words.  When we do, there are rich benefits.  When we don’t, life won’t work well.

God made us with great love and care.  He deserves us to consider and take notice of all he’s said and done.

It pays to know this before the struggles hit.  Struggles will hit.  But, it’s wonderful to know before they hit, our amazing Creator is safe to run to.

I wouldn’t doubt at this point, if you haven’t had this view of yourself and God, the posts this week may have brought more questions than answers. Please, dear one, don’t stop reading. Next week we will continue this series with Part 2 – “When Life Doesn’t Go Right.” as we look at “Who Am I?”  Again, good things to know before the struggles hit.

If you’re in the middle of a storm already, please don’t give up.  There is hope.

As always, lets talk!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Following the Designer’s Care Instructions

Designer clothing is valuable because it carries the designer’s label and there are no two pieces exactly alike.

We carry our designer’s label.

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT) (italics are mine for emphasis)

Each of us is an individual masterpiece, created specifically and personally by the Master Designer himself.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT)

Each of us bear the Master Designer’s label because we bear his image.  None of us are like the other.  We are each his personal masterpiece!

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We would never consider wearing a designer outfit to work on a car or in the garden.  Nor would we out of convenience decide to wash it with our everyday clothing in the washing machine. Why not?  Because the value makes us want to protect and cherish it according to the designer’s care instructions.

‘For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’  

Acts 17:28 (NLT) (italics mine for emphasis)

We would never think to say “I hate breathing oxygen, so I think I shall start breathing carbon monoxide today, just because I feel like it!”  Yet how often do we think we can decide to live outside of God’s care instructions because we feel like it, thinking we know better than the one who designed us?

God made us to live in his life and environment.  When we attempt otherwise, we starve from lack of him and die inside.

His care instructions state that we were designed to live in him.  That means that we were designed to find our satisfaction and identity in close relationship with him.  Not as a robot doing his every bidding without thought, but more as a lover responding to the love given.  

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God’s word, the Bible, outlines his care instructions for us.  It lays out the blessings for those who choose to abide by his instructions.  It also lays out what happens if we choose otherwise, in the form of warnings. Not because God wants to limit us, but because of his great love for his masterpiece, he wants us to have the most amazing life, by being cared for and cherished according to the value he placed upon us, and according to how he designed us.

What difference would it make in your life this very moment, if you decided to live within the care instructions of your Master Designer?  

I challenge you to discover the answer!  As always, I’d love some discussion!

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With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Reading the Manufacturer’s Instructions

“God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things….In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place*

This past summer, I decided to go cheap with a new gas grill, and bought one at a local discount store.  I knew I’d have to put it together myself, so I set out to do so one afternoon.  I pulled everything out of the box, and looked at the instruction manual as I painstakingly put it together piece…..by……piece.

Reading the instructions, early on, I noted a little box with an arrow going to it, but didn’t understand, so moved on.  The little box was so tiny, and therefore I assumed so “insignificant”. Unfortunately, that little box was crucial, and so when I got to a certain point, I realized I had put the legs on backward and needed to pull most of what I’d done apart. That little box was meant to alert me how to differentiate between the front and the back of the legs.

As I put the grill pieces together, I never wondered if they were formed accidentally through a mass explosion at the factory. Likewise, I never looked at the pieces and assumed they would put themselves together!  Nor would I ever think that the pieces would write their own instructions.  I assumed there was a manufacturer.  I acknowledged there was a plan – an instruction manual.

How could we, who are so beautifully and intricately fashioned, ever consider we were formed by an accidental explosion, and are able to write “our own instruction manual”? 

for through him [Jesus] God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16 (NLT)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 (NIV)

 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31 (NIV) (Italics mine for emphasis)

Dear one, when was the last time you looked in the mirror and saw yourself as intentionally made, and made well?  You may frustratingly state, “But I don’t feel that way; and if you saw my life right now, you’d not say “It is good”!

Stay with me, please, over this series.

Tomorrow, we will look further at How and Why we were made, according to God’s instruction manual.  As always, I invite your feedback and comments.  I love “table talk”!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

*Corrie ten Boome was an amazing woman who lived during the time of the Nazi attempt to annihilate the Jews before, during, and after WWII.  A portion of her story is found in “Strength to Forgive

p.s. You may also wish to read:  “The Gift of The Word