Thursday, January 2, 2014


I've read a lot about suffering recently. I've experienced suffering. I still suffer, much as we all do. I have accepted God into my life and dedicated myself to doing His will. I want to understand why there is so much suffering.

In The Case For Faith, Lee Strobel relates a story from an interview; On my door is a cartoon of two turtles. One says, “Sometimes I would like to ask why God allows poverty, famine, and injustice when he could do something about it.” The other turtle says “I am afraid that God might ask me the same question.

I often use Hebrews 8 in my conversations and writing; 
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more

1 Corinthians 3 comes up along with Hebrews 8:
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?

Luke 17 follows immediately after:
The Kingdom of God is in your midst.

In the Old Testament God was with His people every day. He gave them hundreds of laws about how to act and He interfered daily in their lives. They resented Him and ignored Him because of it. They would obey the laws but seemed to miss the spirit, the intent of them; to glorify God. When Jesus came He brought the New Covenant. God still does touch us occasionally. He healed me. But God has essentially passed the baton to us.

We are the lucky ones. The addicts, alcoholics, manic depressives; those of us who struggle with demons that threaten to consume us. Most people go through life with enough money and the stuff it buys to be comfortable and to not need God in their lives. When I was finally able to pray while in treatment, I thanked Him for allowing me to take a path and to take up burdens that weakened me so much that I could hear Him. Before, I was so strong I thought I didn't need Him. My suffering was God's siren call.

I've never asked Him for anything since except for understanding of His will. As the 11th step states; I Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out. Actually I have asked for one thing; I told Him to point me at the bus and I'd throw myself under it if that's what He needed, but I did ask for enough time so my kids would know that I got clean and got off the street before He needs me to go. That's all I care about really.

Without suffering I would have never known God. Without suffering we wouldn't get the chance to do His work and feel how wonderful it is to help one another. I know it could sound trite and self serving to say that you suffer so I can feel better about myself by helping you. I will admit that I do feel a twinge of guilt for the joy I receive when I help someone else.

Because God has left the Hebrew temple and has taken up residence in each of us, we get to do His work, experiencing His joy. Because of suffering, we get to help others. I would never have known the joy of helping other addicts had I not become one. I cannot even begin to imagine how this sets right all the suffering in the world, nor will I make the argument that it does. I can only speak to what God conveys to me; when I help others, I am doing His work, and when I help others I become more like Him.

Philip Yancey wrote that, in his research on suffering, he spoke with people all over the globe who were dedicated to service; I was prepared to honor and admire these servants, to uphold them as inspiring examples. I was not prepared to envy them.

I don't envy me. But I'd rather be me, now, the former addict and prostitute, than me, formerly, believing in nothing but cold, hard cash and that I was all alone in a huge universe. I wish that I could have gotten here by an easier path, but if I had, how would I understand those who have come by the harder path?

Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. - Martin Luther King Jr.

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Please remember that I am posting my story solely for the purpose of helping others clarify their own. I will appreciate your supportive, kind, or constructive comments.