Sunday, May 27, 2007

Suffering, Prayer, and the Will of God

Just to warn you, this is a long one. I encourage you to take your time with it and really try to understand everything stated. Since the day Baby James was born, Kristal and I have been meditating on what the Word of God has to say about suffering, prayer, and the will of God. One of the things I have come to see during this time is that many have an over-simplified view of suffering. Some attribute suffering solely to Satan. Some attribute it solely to the judgement and/or plan of God. Some attribute it solely to human sin. This post is the result of Kristal and I trying to be faithful to the whole counsel of God's Word. Many may be suspicious of what we are saying because we are a bit detailed about it. However, being detailed is not always bad. Often times, and in this post, detail is the result of attempting to be faithful to the whole counsel of God's Word.

For starters, we must all understand that prayer is real communication. Prayer is not a magic button we push to get stuff. Some people believe that if you pray in a certain way and say just the right words then God will somehow be a bit more apt to answer your prayers. This is downright wrong. Surely there are wrong ways to come to God, but this is not my point. There is no formula to prayer. Prayer is real lively conversation between a finite person saved by grace to an infinitely wonderful, loving, just, faithful, wrathful, merciful, kind Savior who died for sinners. Whenever this aspect of real living conversation is divorced from prayer we miss the whole of what prayer is. Prayer is asking God for stuff, it is petition. God has the perogative to either give what we ask for or deny it. However, we have the knowledge that if God denies us something it is not because He was not able to give it or because He doesn't delight in blessing His kids, but rather because He has something much better in mind. Some people believe that if they pray a certain number of minutes or hours that God is somehow obligated to give them exactly what they asked for. Some people believe that if they end their prayer using the words "in Jesus name" God is somehow obligated to give them exactly what they asked for. Prayer is when a believer desires something and asks the Father in faith knowing that God will not disappoint. Prayer is a believer petitioning the Father for something in faith believing that God's promises are true no matter the outcome.

Think with me for a moment about our situation with Baby James--Kristal and I fervently prayed for 9 whole months that our baby be born healthy. We prayed that our baby be born with no complications. I guarantee that we prayed more before his birth that there be no complications than we have since his birth that he would survive and fully recover from his brain injury. However, Baby James was not born healthy. There were complications with the birth. Do not for one minute think that God did not hear our many many many prayers for Baby James. God did not disappoint Kristal and I. We know that God heard every single prayer we offered up for an uncomplicated delivery. Why then was he born with complications? Did God fail? Did God not answer our prayer? Did Satan get a victory? Were our prayers useless because God was not able to defeat Satan? Did we somehow fail in our praying? We have had so many people over the past few weeks tell us that our baby is going to heal 100%. Their reasoning for this is because everyone is praying. But we all must remember that for 9 whole months we prayed fervently that Baby James be born without complications and yet he was born with complications. So if God did not answer our prayer the way we asked before he was born, how can we have confidence that he is going to answer our prayers the way we ask now that he is born? I am not writing this to bring up doubts in your minds about the power and efficacy of prayer. I am writing this to help us get a biblical view of prayer. How then is this dilemma solved? God promises to answer prayer, yet He seemed to not answer our thousands upon thousands of prayers that Baby James be born without complications. The question is why. Why was this prayer not answered the exact way it was prayed? Many people do not like the thought that this might have happened because God willed it to fulfill His purposes; they do not like this answer because it seems to make God out to be an agent of evil. Others do not like the thought that this might have happened because of the work of Satan; they do not like this answer because it seems to limit the power of God and ruins our hope that God actually can answer our prayers. Still others do not like the thought that this could have been because of human sin; they do not like this answer because it makes God look like an angry cuss.

Why, according to the Bible, was Baby James born the way he was? Why did the Lord not answer our prayers for a uncomplicated delivery the way we asked? Ultimately, Why do bad things happen to God's people in spite of their fervent praying?" I have come up with 7 reasons from the Scriptures. Each reason given is a clear reason given in Scripture why something bad happened to God's children.

Reason #1: It could have been the result of the fall. We know that God cursed mankind as the result of the fall. God specifically told Adam and Eve in Gen 2:15 that if they were to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die. Well, Adam and Eve ate of this tree. When they ate of this tree, God's promise of judgement was enacted upon humanity. Many people have a problem with this because they want to attribute all death and disease to Satan. But to do so would be a mistake. Notice that it was not Satan, but the Lord, who said, "If you eat of it you shall surely die." Death is first and foremost the work of the Lord. It is God's judgement not only against specific individual sins, but also God's judgement against humanity for sin in general--it is the result of the fall. Many have a hard time with this because they want to whole heartedly believe that God would not judge his own people. The common response is this, "What do you mean, I thought God took all judgement toward His own people away on the cross? How are you going to say that an all-loving God would continue to judge His own people?" I can sympathize with this rejection of what I am saying, however I do not think it is biblical. God surely has promised to not judge His own people, but we must make a distinction between temporal/earthly judgement and eternal/hell-bound judgment. God has promised to save his people from Hell, but He has not promised to save us from temporal/earthly judgement. This is why we get all pumped up and thankful when God supernaturally heals--we realize that this is not something He always does. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is that God works his judgement for the good of His children. The judgement of God against non-believers works against them. Do not all Christians die regardless of their piety, prayer life, faith, and good deeds? Every single Christian who has ever walked the face of this earth has died. And if you are still alive, unless you live to see the second coming, you will die as well. Has Satan won a victory every time one of God's kids died? Whenever a person dies, are we to simply attribute it to their lack of faith or prayer? Of course not! Think about the most godly person you know. One thing is true of that person. He/she will die. Why will he/she die? Because God meant what he said when He said, "if you eat of it you shall surely die." Never forget that diseases, wounds, deformities, pain, labor, and death are the work of God's judgement against mankind because of the fall. Of course, He often saves His people through healing, but He never promised to save His people from all diseases in this temporal/earthly life. He has also never promised to save His people from death. He has also never promised to save his female children from His work of judgement expressed through the pain of child birth (Genesis 3:16). How many godly, faithful women do you know who experienced absolutely no pain in labor? He also never promised to save his male children from His work of judgement expressed through the toil of working the ground (Genesis 3:17). This is God's judgement. Yea, judgement that God's children experience even after their conversion.

Reason #2: It could be the result of a lack of faith. After Jesus first started his ministry, He went to His hometown (Nazareth), but he did not do many miracles there (Matthew 13:58). Why did he not do many miracles? Because of their lack of faith. I am not saying that this was the case in our situation, but it is an option. It could be that when Kristal and I prayed for an uncomplicated delivery, God did not answer because of a lack of faith on our part.

Reason #3: It could be the result of a specific sin. After David committed adultery with Bathsheba she became pregnant. To cover up his mistake, David sent Bathsheba's husband to the front lines to be slaughtered. Whatever happened to the child conceived as the result of David's adultery? He died. In 2 Samuel 12:1-22 we see a conversation between David and Nathan. God had Nathan tell David that He was going to judge him for his sin (of adultery and murder) by taking the life of his child. David prayed and prayed and prayed and yet the Lord took the life of his child. Once again, notice that this was not the work of Satan, but rather the work of the Lord. I am not saying that this was the case with our boy, but it is an option. God could have been judging Kristal and I for some specific sin. Once again, I am not saying that this is the case, but I am trying to lay forth all of the reasons why God did not answer someone's prayer the way they wanted Him to. We must remember that God is faithful to both His promises of blessing and judgement. When God promises to meet out judgement, He will bring it about. We always talk about the promise of heaven, but we also must remember that Hell is promised to those who do not turn to Christ in faith. God met out judgement upon David because of the specific sin of adultery.

Reason #4: It could have been the work of Satan. We see in the first chapter of Job a conversation between God and Satan. Satan came to God to ask him permission to bring calamity upon God's most faithful servant. Notice that Satan had to ask God's permission. Throughout the book of Job, anytime Satan wanted to up Job's suffering he had to keep going back to God to get further permission. This is why Satan is described best as a dog on a very short leash. God knew his servant and gave Satan the permission to wreak havoc on Job's family, servants, and property. Here we do see that Satan's plan was death, diseases, and ruin. Baby James' livelihood could have been attacked by Satan. Although this may be the case, we must not overlook the fact that after all of this happened Job said, "The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." The Lord then affirms Job's words by saying, "And in all of this Job did not sin with his lips." You see, the Lord did not simply allow Satan to do this. Job understood that life and death are not ultimately in the hands of Satan, but in the hands of the Lord. As strange and as uncomfortable as it sounds, the Lord caused this calamity to come upon Job. Notice how Job attributes all the deaths in his family to the Lord when he says, "The Lord takes away." He does not say, "Satan takes away." Yet, it was very clear that it was the work of Satan in Chapters 1 and 2. So was it Satan or was it the Lord? I think we have to say that it was both. Both Satan and the Lord caused it. But we must ultimately attribute it to the Lord, because Job did not sin with His lips when he did so. God uses Satan like he used Babylon to destroy Israel. In Jerermiah 51:20-24 the Lord speaks about using the wicked nation of Babylon as a tool of destruction. He actually used Babylon to destroy Israel as a farmer uses a hoe to break up the ground. In Isaiah 10:5 we see that God used Assyria in the same way. It is interesting to point out that after God used Babylon to destroy Israel, He destroyed wicked Babylon for destroying Israel out of an evil heart. Strange, but biblical. This is a good illustration of how God uses Satan to further His purposes. He uses Satan as a tool to bring calamity upon people. This does not mean that God and Satan are partners in crime, but it does mean that God sovereignly uses Satan's work of destruction to fulfill his purposes. This is most clearly evidenced by Satan's evil work of putting Christ on the cross. Although Satan causes trouble everywhere he goes, he cannot escape sovereignty. He cannot escape the Divine plan. Every little thing he does furthers the purpose and plan of God. This does not mean that the Lord is not opposed to Satan. NO! He is opposed to Satan in the same way that He was opposed to Babylon. He is opposed, but God is so wise and big that He has worked the evil actions of Satan into His predetermined plan. Notice that Satan is not even mentioned past Job 2. The rest of the book of Job is about Job blaming God with injustice for causing such destruction to him and his family. Never does God deny that He caused Job's destruction. No, He affirms Job's understanding of His own sovereignty in Job's suffering. His issue with Job is that he is accusing God of injustice. Think with me for a moment about the sin of Judas. Judas handed Christ over to the authorities that they might put Him to death. John 13:2 specifically states that the Devil put it into the heart of Judas to hand Christ over to be killed. So here we see that it was Satan who enticed Judas to sin. However we see in Acts 2:23 and again in 4:28-29 that Jesus was handed over according to the predetermined plan of God, the foreknowledge of God, the hand of God, and the purpose of God. So who did it, Satan or God? Well... both. But the Scriptures seem to put God forward as the primary agent of action. So once again, you see that although Satan was actively involved in the death of Christ, it was ultimately the work of the Lord. I am in no way trying to trivialize the work of Satan, rather I am trying to put it into it's right perspective. Satan truly does work. Satan is a true adversary. It is his work to steal, kill, and destroy. Yes, Satan does have a hand in some of the suffering in the world. Yes, Satan does have a hand in some of the death in the world. Yes, Satan is a true force. However, we must understand the work of Satan in the context of the sovereignty of God. I once heard an excellent illustration describing how the work of Satan fits into the plan and purpose of God: There were once two people who lived next to each other. The one was a Christian and avidly sought a friendship with his neighbor who was a non-believer. The more the believer pursued a friendship, the more his neighbor hated him. The man's anger toward his Christian neighbor grew so great that he decided to go cut down his Christian neighbors' favorite Oak tree in the back of his property. So, he got himself an axe, tromped over to his neighbor's house, and began hacking away. After he finally chopped through the trunk of the big beautiful oak, the tree fell on top of him. He was trapped and could not get away. Later that day the Christian went out back of his house surprised to see his beloved oak chopped down. He quickly ran over to his trapped neighbor. He cried out, "Are you ok? What happened?" His neighbor replied, "I chopped your favorite oak down because I hate you and it fell on me. But I don't care. I would do it again because I hate you." The Christian neighbor then looked at the man with a smile on his face and said, "Sorry that my tree had to fall on you. But thanks! I was planning on cutting it down sometime this week because I was planning on using it to build a deck on the back of my house." You see, in an attempt to do evil against his Christian neighbor, he ended up serving his neighbor. This is a helpful way of looking at the work of Satan in our lives. Satan simply can try and try and try to defeat our Great God, but he cannot. Not only can he not successfully be a threat or a problem for our God, everything he does actually fulfills the purposes of the Lord. This is why in Romans 8:31, Paul says, "if God is for us who can be against us." What Paul is saying is that no one can successfully be against the people of God. How can you successfully be against an infinitely wise, sovereign, and powerful God? Everything Satan does, as strange as it seems, furthers the purpose and plan of our God. Everything Satan did to Christ fulfilled prophecy which proved the validity of the claims of Christ. Yes, Satan could be a factor in our situation, but we must remember that Satan only does that which the Lord allows. We must also remember that God is the ultimate actor on the stage of this earth.

Reason #5: The Lord could have brought this about so that He might bring glory to His name. In John 9, Jesus came into contact with a man who was born blind. When this man met Jesus he was 40. Everyone knew of this man. Everyday as they went to the market place they saw him on the side of the road begging for food, money, and shelter. One day as Jesus and His disciples were walking by this man one of the disciples asked Jesus, "Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Was it because he sinned, or was it because his parents sinned?" (John 9:1) Jesus' response is not quite what we would expect it to be. He does not attribute this man's blindness to Satan. He does not attribute it to his lack of faith or his lack of prayer. The Lord attributes this man's blindness to Himself. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:2). The purpose of this man's blindness was to bring glory to God. God desires to show Himself to be the great physician. God loves to flex His muscles. God loves to show off his ability to bring hope to a hopeless situation. In our situation with James, has not God revealed Himself as the one who is mighty to heal? Has He not revealed Himself as the one who cares for us? Has He not revealed Himself as the one who "does what He pleases? (Psalm 115). Baby James' complications were not a mistake. God did not drop the ball. He was creating a situation by which He might get glory. I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow. Many may say, "Jimmy, what are you saying? Are you saying that God orchestrated things to happen the way He did? Are you saying that a loving God put you, your wife, your family, and your baby through large amounts of pain and trauma for the sake of showing off His ability to heal and answer prayer?" To put it a bit bluntly, Yes! That is exactly what I am saying. Never forget that the man Jesus healed was blind for 40 years. He experienced 40 full years of darkness. He experienced 40 years of difficulty. Being blind in the 1st Century is completely different than being blind in the 21st Century. Being blind in the 1st Century meant leading a life hardship and begging. This is not to say that being blind in the 21st century is not fraught with problems, but because of technology, welfare, and a generally more sympathetic society a life plagued with blindness today is much easier. The Lord purposed 40 years of hardship for this man "so that the work of God might be displayed in Him."

Reason #6: The Lord could have brought this about for the simple reason of providence. The Lord has mysterious ways about moving people where He wants them. In Acts 7 we learn about the stoning of one of the spiritual giants of the early church. In Acts 8 we see that on the same day that Stephen was martyred for the faith, "a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem" (Acts 8:2). What was the result of this persecution? Read the rest of Acts 8:2--"all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria." And then we see in 8:4 that "those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." Who would of thought! Persecution, as bad as it was, actually advanced the Gospel. Jesus, addressing the disciples in Acts 1:8, said that they would be "my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Jesus' words were fulfilled when the disciples fled from Jerusalem as a result of persecution. If it were not for the persecution, the majority of the disciples would have remained in Jerusalem. Persecution forced the disciples out to preach the Gospel to the rest of the world. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord brought this situation about so that Kristal and I may have a Gospel impact on those we would have otherwise not been in contact with. For example, If we had not of gotten pregnant, we would still be in Kansas City and we would not have been in contact with the people we are now in contact with. The Lord moves His people where He wants them so that He might impact specific people in a specific way. Kristal and I have had numerous opportunities to share the Gospel with doctors and nurses that we would not have had if our circumstances were different. Because of the effects of Baby James' injury and disabilities, we will be around people we would not otherwise be around. It is our job as ambassador's for Christ to be faithful evangelists to those the Lord sovereignly puts in our path. Do not think this was a mistake. Do not think that the Lord did not know what He was doing by bringing this all about. He has such wonderful plans for His people. He has His eyes set on specific people and He wants to use us to bring them to the hope of eternal life. The Lord may not move His people where He wants them the way we would choose, but remember that "His ways are not our ways" (Isaiah 55:9).

Reason #7: This could have happened for the sake of our Spiritual growth. Paul, in Romans 5:3 says, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Suffering is one of the greatest tools the Lord uses to bring about Christ likeness. It is suffering which reminds us that the treasures that this earth has to offer are incomplete and ultimately unsatisfying. It is suffering which convinces us that it is better to "store up treasures in heaven." It is also in suffering where we find intimacy with our savior Jesus Christ. In Philippians 3 Paul says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection." So many people stop here and convienently forget to read the rest of the passage which says, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Notice that we fellowship with Christ by "sharing in his sufferings." I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord brought this about so that Kristal and I (and others of course) might grow more and more into the image of Christ. We, as Christians, are not to love trials in and of themselves, but we all ought to love what they bring about in the lives of God's people. The Lord is fashioning Kristal and I into His image, because "suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:3-4). Trials for unbelievers work against them, but trials for believers bring about a hope that "does not disappoint."

I know that there are other reasons from the Scriptures, but this was a semi-thorough list of why bad things happen to God's people regardless of their great faith and prayer. Once again this is not to call into question the power and efficacy of prayer. All God's Kids believe that God answers prayer. However all God's kids also believe that not every prayer prayed is answered the exact way it is prayed. The difference between Christians is their belief as to why these prayers are not answered the exact way they are prayed. This is why I wrote this post--so that our idea of how God responds to our praying might be shaped solely by the Word of God. God is faithful to His promises. If God does not answer a prayer the way it is prayed, it is not because God could not deliver. God is not the sort of God who makes promises that He cannot keep. If God does not answer a prayer the way it is prayed, it is not because God has somehow failed to be faithful. In our situation with Baby James, we can be certain of one thing--God was completely faithful to respond to our prayers the way He did. Continue in steadfast prayer for Baby James knowing who God is and how He works. God has not dissapointed us! Pray knowing that God is going to do what is best for His name, His people, and His Gospel. God is so gracious and so kind. God has left a line of communication open for us to cast all our cares upon Him. God is able to do abundantly more than we could ever imagine or ask. God is the most wonderful God. God is in control and nothing stands in His way. He does whatever He pleases. This is a good thing, because He is only pleased by what is best for His name, His people, and His Gospel. Kristal and I have confidence in the fact that God will not disappoint us. Kristal and I have confidence that God answers prayer according to His good, loving, and wise plan. Let us together seek to place our faith in the whole counsel of God's Word. Let this be one of those things that occupies our days for the rest of our lives.

12 comments:

Secret Rapture said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pastor Luke said...

Jimmy,

This is an excellent post...do you mind if I borrow it!?

I am interested, if you would humor me, to know what you suspect, of your 7 reasons, to be Divine cause of your circumstances.

Luke

Jimmy Snowden said...

Good question Luke. Ultimately, it would be impossible to be 100% exact as to why God caused our circumstance in it's entirety. Here are some thoughts though:

1. It is not as though we have to limit the cause of this to just one of the seven listed. It could have been the result of a combination of any of them.

2. We know that some of these would apply in any and every circumstance of suffering that we might go through. For example, we know that no matter our circumstance of suffering, if we are believers, God caused it for the sake of growing us in Christ likeness. Now, there may be more factors than just sanctification, but we do know that it has got to be one of them. This same line of reasoning can be used with reason #6--we can be 100% sure that any circumstance of suffering a believer undergoes is for the purpose of fulfilling God's sovereign/providential purposes. This line of reasoning can most likely be used with #1 as well.

3. In our situation, it really does seem like God has done this so that "the works of God might be displayed in his life." I say this a few weeks after the bulk of his healing has happened.

4. This could have been the result of sin or a lack of faith. However, if it is the result of a lack of faith, God will have to reveal that to us. A lack of faith is difficult to detect often times. In regard to the sin issue--God's judging David was over sins deserving the death penalty (under the Old Covenant), therefore it is hard to tell how God would deal with sins deserving less punishment. With all this in mind, I doubt it is the result of sin. This is something I think is best for Christians to not beat themselves up over if they are avidly pursuing righteousness and repentance in their lives.

5. It could have been the work of Satan. God would have to give special revelation to know for sure.

These are just some thoughts. Luke, any thoughts?

I will only let you borrow this post if you pay off my student loans. HA! Just kidding. Borrow it! Heck, you don't even have to cite the source.

Emma said...

Jimmy,

I will(and did) cite the source for this...plagarism is never a good thing!!!!

Thanks for your response. I think you've got the right perspective. I'd recommend to you and others who read the blog to also read a little pamphlet by A.W. Pink called something like "Divine Healing." He deals to a certain extent with those things you discussed but also addressed how to go about evaluating our hearts and sin issues when sickness or trouble arises to do just as you have done by considering that there may be sin issues as the cause for such things. 1 Corinthians 5 and 11 show us that sickness and even death can result from sin (I don't have my bible directly infront of me, but phrases like "hand them over for the destruction of their flesh" in 1 Cor. 5, and "some of you have gotten ill and even died" in relationship to taking the Lord's Supper in an "unworthy" manner).

As stated, I have no reason to suspect this to be the cause in your situation, but in our industrial age where doctors seemed to have replaced God, it can be, and is, a temptation to just pop a pill or go to the doctor rather than evaluate our hearts. Pink helps greatly with this.

I'd ask you what other Biblical examples of sufferring might teach us more about this issue. I don't have any to offer right now. But, I'd challenge you and those reading this to find other examples.

Blessings,

Luke

Jimmy Snowden said...

1 John 5:16:
"If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this."

Jessy said...

#5 and #7 are especially applicable. No matter what, God will get His glory, amen? And He has promised to work everything according to the good of those who love Him.
A hearty AMEN! to the truths revealed to you through His Spirit! You are being used Jimmy Snowden. I, personally, believe that like Job, God chose you and Krystal for this trial for the same reason as He chose Job for his. "...blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil." (you know that doesn't mean I think you're perfect, as Job was not perfect). God was the initiator here. He actually offered Job up saying, "Have you considered My servant Job?" God has allowed you to be tested, whoever performs the testing, it is ultimately from Him which means it's a good thing. What a glorious thought, that no matter whatever happens to us, we can rest assured, being 100% positive in one thing...that God is good and everything He does is good.
Unbelievers, like Satan, are crouched around, waiting to see if you are going to curse God because of these trials. But, alas! The Savior's work in you both is more powerful than your motherly and fatherly tendencies and more glory has come to Him from your son's suffering than from his health. Glory be to God and may He be pleased to show His little creation continued mercy and healing for that same glory!

Pastor Luke said...

Jimmy,

These passages will more than likely parralell what you've already stated, but here they are anyway.

Amos 3:6, "Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?"

God is threatning to destroy and judge his people if they will not repent. In fact in Amos 4:1 he describes their condition and status before God as that of animals, "you cows of bashan." They are nothing but beasts for slaughter before God.

But, God is not threatning this calamity to ultimately judge them, rather it is to get to chapter 5 where there is hope given upon repentance.

So, we can see that God both threatens and releases calamities upon people to teach them repentance from sin. Yes, such things come as judgment for sin, but it is also to ilicit repentance from sin.

Revelation 19:11-16 is the other I'd point you to. This is a description of Jesus' return. It is a shocking statement as we compare it with his first descent to earth. He, in his first coming, is born of a lowly virgin in a manger. He is vulnerable, weak, humble, learning, growing, mocked, and ultimately killed. However, the resurrection begins a new day, better said, a newer and fuller revelation of the greatness of the Lord Christ. We see the consumation of this revelation at the return of Christ as described here. Here in Revelation 19 there is no lowly manger, no growing, no vulnerability, but as one preacher put it, "One big, bad, tatooed, warrior coming to kick some tail!"

Yes, that's right, Jesus is a tatooed warrior (see v.16, "on his thigh he has a name written, "King of kings and Lord of lords.")

Most importantly consider this statement, v.15 "From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the almighty." Compare this with v.13, "He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood." We get the picture of a warrior having killed so many that the splatters of the blood of his enemies have drenched his wardrobe so that it looks as if he was dipped in blood.

What a picture. Jesus first comes to spill his own blood for sinners. Now he is seen as a warrior coming to spill the blood of sinners. What is the point? The point is this. The ultimate calamity...the ultimate blood bath is wrought by God for the purpose of the eradication of evil from the face of the earth.

In other words, God brings calamity much like an exterminator. He is coming to exterminate evil from the earth. When he does, blood will spill in such a rage that language like this is used of Jesus, "tread the winepress of the FURY of the WRATH of God the almighty."

This is why David says that he will not simply rejoice in God's presence, but says that he will "rejoice with great trembling" Psalm 2:11. It should cause the same in us.

Your thoughts Jimmy.

Luke

Bacon said...

Jimmy (and I sure hope Kris takes time to read this too),

I'm sorry I haven't contacted you yet. My mom kept telling me it wasn't good to call, and that's the only way that I wanted to. I hate posting online like this, I don't find it to be very personal or communicative for me. However, it had been so long and she says it's still not a good idea to call, so I broke down and decided to post here.

I really wish I could be there and give you guys hugs myself, and be available to sit down and chat when you guys want an old friend to chat with. Most of all I would like to see you guys with James enjoying time with him while he is happily awake being the miracle baby he is. Stay safe, and know that a couple of people over here in Kansas love you and are thinking of you often. Hopefully it will be ok if I call sometime in the next few weeks, cuz I still really want to talk to you personally.

I hope you know how this post is intended. I don't want to just echo everyone else's posts, so I will leave it that I'm praying for you, will look forward to seeing James and mom and dad in person soon, and that I love you guys.

Matt

PS, this post is one of the clearest, best thought out, but still authentic and honest posts that I've ever seen. It is as honest as a private journal type of entry, yet as clearly composed and thoroughly written as a college paper. Thanks for putting that up, it encouraged me that you can think clearly enough to write this, because that tells me you have confidence that James will be ok, and one of my biggest concerns is that you guys keep the strength to not get discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for this thoughtful post. God is clearly teaching you many things through your suffering as a family, and the gospel is being furthered.
It took me 16 years of struggling with Menieres disease to submit to it and God's plan for my life. A good friend taught me to pray, "if you plan to use me God, keep me faithful to you".
This submission to God's glory in whatever shape that may take on my life has been blissfully liberating, in spite of the difficult physical symptoms. It is not a lack of faith in God's power to heal that makes us accept suffering, but rather the graceful gift of submission.
I pray that God keeps your family faithful to the way he is using you for the gospel and to further his glory, and I pray for Baby James' full healing and will continue to do so.

Andy Doyle

adoyle@gcts.edu

Miss Corey said...

Kristal, I know that this is really Jimmy's blog, but I wanted to let you know that I have silently read through everything that you two have put on this site and continue to pray for you all. Little things in our lives remind us to look to our Lord and lift up the ones we love. For me, a measuring cup will always remind me of you and I will continue to pray for you now in your role as mother and wife.

mharkness@machink.com said...

Dear Jimmy and Kristal
I've waited to write you because I've been left utterly speechless after reading your blog. I can't believe the courage and faith that you show every day in every way. You and Krystal are just about the most perfect people I know, and for you to think that this was a sin issue is very difficult for me. You have given me so much in terms of faith and strength that I hardly know how handle it. I wish I could hand over some encouraging words, instead you encourage me. There have been many lessons learned of this situation, Jimmy, and I have learned so much. You have ministered to me in ways you'll never know. Thank you. As for Baby James, we pray each day for him and for you guys. I just know that in God's time he will be healed and all our cares will vanish. I have enjoyed the exchange between you and Luke too, and I am so proud of the two of you. I am deeply humbled by you and I love you, all three, with all my heart.
Gramma Harky

aunt said...

Jimmy and Kristal,
i am without many words over the lesson you have taught me about suffering.
Although i dont claim to have any idea why God's children suffer,i do know that the blessing that has come from the birth of James has been huge.
All eyes seeing two devoted children of God, going to the word for answers, and finding them!
I have learned so much from watching the both of you. Jimmy, i cant that you enough for still taking the time to share what god has revealed to you...
the three of you are such a blessing to all who read or hear how god has chosen to bless you!
i enjoy the jimmy, Luke messages...
Two Pastors in one family, Lord have Merecy!! Who gets to says grace at christmas??

I love the three of you so much!
Aunt Lu