Category Archives: Suffering

For Whom Do You Carry the Stone?

The following story is found in the Gospel of II Matthew— and by that I mean it is fictional and not in the Bible. It comes from Elizabeth Elliot.

Jesus was walking one day with His disciples and asked each one to pick up a stone to carry for Him. They all picked up a stone. Peter, rather a small one; John, a bigger one. Jesus led them to the top of a mountain and then He commanded the stones to be made bread. The disciples were by this time hungry, and so they were given permission to eat the bread in their hands. Of course, Peter didn’t have very much. John shared with him some of the bread that had been made from the stone he had carried.

On another occasion, the same Jesus took the same disciples for a walk and again asked them to pick up a stone to carry for Him. This time you can imagine that Peter picked up a bigger stone. But Jesus did not take them this time to the top of the mountain. He took them to the river. As they stood on the bank looking with questions in their minds to Him, He said, “Throw the stones into the river,” which they did at once in obedience to His command. Then they looked at Him, expectantly waiting for the miracle that would happen this time.

Nothing happened. They waited. They watched. Nothing happened. Jesus, with great compassion, looked on these disciples whom He loved and He said, “For whom did you carry the stone?”

You see Peter’s primary concern was for himself and his comfort. He did everything he could to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. However, the reality is narrow is the road and it is filled with hardships but the narrowness of the road is nothing compared to the vast, deep, soul-satisfying riches we attain by walking with him in joy and perseverance.

Press on!

 

Discontent

We all experience seasons of life where it seems like nothing is going your way. No matter how hard you try, everything you try to cultivate wars against you. This is where my wife and I are living right now. We feel like we have been beat up and we can’t catch a break. Don’t get me wrong… i realize that there are people in the world that are far worse off than we are… I get that. But it doesn’t help the feeling. I hate the way I feel because I never what to be in a position where I feel like God owes me something. I know He is good! Even through the valley He has been very good to me and my family.

I have been praying like crazy that God would help me be content like Paul. He was imprisoned and free, rich and poor, etc… in every situation he learned to be content because no matter what his situation was, the Gospel was preached.

We have dealt with the death of 3 people close to us… one was far to young. Each death was about a week apart. My wife is struggling to find a job. We have been waiting and hoping all week to get a call back from a company but our hope is fading. It has been the most difficult semester of my life. School is relentless, work keeps me busy, and my heart continuously breaks for my wife.

So I have to be honest… I am in a season in life where I feel discontent but I am pleading for Christ to have mercy and increase my faith so that even in this tough time I can be content.

I plead the blood of Christ! His grace is sufficient!

Awaiting Death

No one ever wants to hear the words from a doctor, “There is nothing else we can do.” These are the words that my brother-in-law received from his oncologist on thursday. The doctor gave him two options, 1) he could try one more treatment but the likelihood of the chemo helping was very slim and he (josh) would spend his remaining days highly susceptible to infection and most likely miserable. Or 2) He could begin to take every moment in, do the things he has always wanted to do, and spend time with the people he wants to spend time with. At this point, Josh feels as good as he will ever feel and he (along with the rest of his family) believes that quality of life is much more important than quantity of days. Josh is only 22 years old. That is such a huge decision for any person to make… much less a young man who should have his whole life ahead of him. The Doctor told Josh that if he chose not to do treatment, he would have about 3 months to live.He will spend the rest of his days with his family. He is fatigued most of the time and dozes in and out of sleep. It is believed that he will eventually drift off to sleep and not wake up. So now he finds himself in a scary situation… awaiting death. Do you think that has changed his beliefs and values? You bet!

What if we all began to view our lives as temporary? At times i think we put too much stock in this life. If this is all there is… what is the point? You live 22 years only to get terminal cancer and die… if Christ is not who he says he is then life is unbelievably unfair and pointless! But if Christ is the priceless treasure in the field and we will sell everything we have to buy the field in order to gain the eternal treasure that extends beyond our life, then we can view death as God’s mercy!

The reality is we are all awaiting death. The only difference between me and Josh is he has a general idea. However, the reality is I could die at anytime. The only security I (or Josh) have is that Christ is my substitute, who took on the wrath that was intended for me upon Himself so that I may live eternally with my Savior. It is Christ alone that makes this life worth living and keeps me look forward to the next.

No guilt in life, no fear in death/ this is the power of Christ in me./ From life’s first cry to final breath/ Jesus commands my destiny/ No power of hell, no scheme of man/ can ever pluck me from His hand/ till He returns or calls me home/ here in the love of Christ I stand.

How? Why?

These are two questions that often come up in life. The circumstances that come about that lead to the asking of these two questions are endless, meaning it can be for good or for bad. The reason why these questions are so important for me to think about is it shows within myself a lack of understanding, a weakness. The fact is there are things that i cannot and will not ever understand. I don’t know why things happen the way they do.

The question is often asked, ‘If God is all-powerful and He is good, then why is there evil and suffering.” If my response towards this question were to be anything besides “I have no idea” then my speech is shallow and full of fluff. But what do you say when you are hurting and the one person you love more than anyone else in the world is hurting? How am I supposed to be there for her when I hold NO ANSWERS! Sure I could say, “God works all things for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” I could also say, “Somehow this pain is bringing God glory.” Or I could say, “Because of our choice to sin it leads to death.” While these may be true, to the hearer it can be deeply hurtful… especially if they already know these truths.

All I can do is sit, hold her, and weep. There is no answer within me. I cannot fix this. The greatest thing i can do is be quick to listen and very slow to speak (assuming i speak at all).

From my perspective, the beauty in it all is I don’t have to know why or how. I don’t have to know God’s reasoning in order to know that He has a reason. I know this because I know HIM! “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Philippians 3:7-9

I don’t know How or Why things happen the way they do. But God knows… and I know Him. In this I have a living hope.

“Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, the the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”