Through All The Seasons. . . God Is Loving and Powerful

Today I’m sharing an article by Dr. David Jeremiah that was published recently on FaithGateway.

Through All the Seasons…
God is Loving and Powerful

By Dr. David Jeremiah

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 — Why has this passage endured the ages as one of the oldest philosophical poems in our literary canon? It’s certainly among the most pensive passages of God’s Word, a beautiful meditation that casts a near-hypnotic spell over readers of any generation.

The author was the wisest and wealthiest man who ever lived, and this book is a chronicle of his lifelong quest for true happiness and joy. Solomon tried wealth, wisdom, work, and wild living. At the end of his wide-ranging experiments, he concluded that everything was an empty exercise in vanity. It was like trying to capture the wind in his hands.

As we come to the third chapter, we find Solomon facing an even bigger challenge, a “problem with God.”

I know all about the “problem with God.”

I would not have chosen cancer as a path to spiritual growth, nor would I wish such fear and pain on anyone. On the other hand, I do not see my illness as a random event, some miscellaneous accident of health. And I do not believe there was a moment when God was absent from the physical, emotional, and spiritual crisis I endured.

In fact, I found Him everywhere during that time. I found Him as never before. I glimpsed His face among the doctors and nurses who cared for me so skillfully. I saw Him there in shining power among the family of my church, and intimately among the family circle of my wife and children. He met me in the private chapel of my soul, where with each passing day I felt deeper in His grace and comfort. I found my Lord more present and more powerful.

Knowing there must be pain and suffering for us all, I dearly wish everyone could travel the road I did. I wish every human soul could see the face of God in the fear and turmoil. 

So many walk a very different path; they experience only His absence.

Rabbi Harold Kushner, the author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, when his own three-year-old son contracted a rare disease that took his life at a young age, penned his conclusions about God and suffering in order to provide answers to others in similar circumstances.

Kushner’s conclusion was a popularization of an ancient theological conundrum:

How can God be both perfectly good and perfectly powerful? The suffering in the world suggests that if He is God, He is not good; or that if He is good, He is not God. In other words, there must be something lacking in either His love or His strength, or He would cure every little pain.

Rabbi Kushner worked through the old enigma. He concluded that God is all-loving but not all-powerful. He cares deeply about the people He created, but after creating the world He backed away and allowed it to run without His interference.

Solomon had a different view entirely. He concludes that God is sovereign and in control, regardless of the imponderables that remain. Solomon sees God as being present with us but not helpful enough. The king wants to know why God does not improve the standard of life, do something about the aging process, show more favoritism to His children, and perhaps discontinue the program of human pain.

In his poem, there are fourteen negative statements and fourteen positive ones, and they fall into three separate categories. The first describes the influence of time on our bodies, the second focuses on our souls, and the last deals with our spirits.

And Solomon’s main thought? Well, it doesn’t take a Hebrew scholar to notice that the word time occurs twenty-nine times in these verses.

Time and Your Physical Life

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, And a time to die;

A time to plant,

And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,

And a time to heal;

A time to break down,

And a time to build up.

Solomon begins his contemplation with a sobering observation: birth and death both have their appointed times.

When my grandson, Ryland, was born, I flew to Baltimore for the event. As I peered through the nursery window at this beautiful new citizen of the world, it struck me that only a corridor away, some other citizen was being dispatched. Some family had gathered for the agony of farewell. It is not a lengthy walk between the nursery and the intensive care unit. We spend our own time making that trek between entrance and exit, womb and tomb.

Meanwhile, there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Solomon refers to the food supply because he knows that God sets the boundaries of the seasons. God has built certain rhythms into His world. The steady repetition of the seasons provides comfort and a workable cadence to life.

We are a bit discomforted to read that there is a time to kill as well as a time to heal. Yet our bodies are in the process of dying every moment. Scientists tell us that every seven years we replenish all the cells within our bodies. There is an ongoing maintenance department in the human machine that is constantly changing out the old for the new. And it is governed by time.

Cancer cells, infection cells, or simply worn-out cells must be killed — so even killing has its time, and we are grateful. There must be a time to kill so we might also have a time to heal.

And what of “a time to break down, and a time to build up”? We build up in our early years, and we start breaking down as we get older — painful but true. How old is old? I was enjoying a birthday when David Todd, my six-year-old grandson, crunched the numbers on my age. He said, “If Poppy was a dog’s age, he’d be dead!” He was right.

There is a time for breaking down, but God is there. He is as powerful as He is loving, and you have the opportunity to experience His power all the more effectively and vividly when you turn to Him in the breakdowns of life.

Read the rest here.

Faith in Hard Times

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Yep, it’s Wednesday again. What’s so wonderful about that? It’s just another day to struggle with all that’s wrong in our lives, right?

Unemployment, sickness, finances. How to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. Why is it that we seem to be going through so many bad weather situations? And what about all the evil deeds going on in our world? Exactly where is God in all of this and why doesn’t He seem to care?

The other day I caught myself grumbling and complaining several times [can “several” mean less than 10? I sure hope so!] about how horrible I was feeling. I was having another reaction to mistakenly eating something with gluten in it, and this affects my entire body: migraine, nausea, mind-numbing fatigue… my body even itches horribly in a lot of places. When I get “glutenized,” it takes me days to recover. And all of this is on top of my normal migraines and fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.50art

As I was praying that night, the Lord brought the day into sharp focus and all I could see was me complaining—sometimes to myself, sometimes to my hubby, sometimes to no one. And I was horrified at how much of a grumbler I had become. The Lord then brought to mind Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” I couldn’t believe how far my complaining heart had gone.

So what does this have to do with Wonderful Wednesday?

Everything.

The first thing I did was ask the Lord to forgive my bad attitude and then I asked Him to help me overcome this tendency I have to moan and complain. I also talked to my sweet hubby about it and asked him to lovingly let me know when I fall back into that grumbling pattern.

And then I decided to do some Bible reading about grumbling and complaining, and that led me to search out passages about faith and trust. Not the usual verses about faith like Abraham’s that I’ve somewhat memorized. No, these are more about digging in and having faith that God is with me and at work:

in me…

through me…

and all around me…

even though I may not feel that He is. It is an unconditional trust that in spite of how I might feel about what’s going on with me, God is allowing certain things in my life to hone more of those rough edges. And that enables me to walk closer with Him.

That is the wonderful part. In spite of how much I’ve let my pain overshadow my joy—the joy of knowing Jesus and basking in the knowledge of His saving grace—He still loves me and has been patiently waiting for me to finally get it. And I do!

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Here are a few passages that bring me a wonderful combination of comfort, peace and hope. The first one from Psalms is something the Lord pointed out to me in my daily Bible reading:

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

—Psalm 33:20-22

This next one from Habakkuk is the last few verses of that small book, what I call Habakkuk’s Statement of Faith. In the margin next to this passage is my handwritten note: “Habakkuk was scared, but waiting. Faith waits on God to take care of things.”

I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.

Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

—Habakkuk 3:16-19

And one more:

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.

See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.

You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! —James 5:7-9

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. In an attempt to keep things real, I wanted to make sure you understand that limping with joy through a difficult valley does not mean that I am satisfied and happy with this struggle. I am definitely not! But what it does mean is that I have found the only way to live with any of it and still have that peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

It’s a fine line I walk with this complaining issue. Sometimes I need to let Rick and others close to me know exactly what’s going on with me because I usually don’t look like I’m feeling horrible. As Rick is fond of telling me, “But you look so good!” So I’ve asked Rick to specifically let me know when sharing the facts of how I feel turn into complaining.

Beloved, what are you struggling with today? Have you found your hope in the one true God? The One who is your Strength and Salvation? Please contact me with any questions about any of this: annap at annapopescu dot com.

AnnaSmile