Christ in Pain

Holy Spirit painting

When the chips are down. When the rubber meets the road. When all hell breaks loose, literally. When “things don’t quite turn out.” When your life is wrecked, devastated, turned upside down. When your heart is torn into shreds and fed to the dogs. When the worst thing you could imagine… happens. How is God glorified in that?This is really a re-phrasing of the age-old question: How can a loving God allow death and suffering in His world? And although the answer to that is inestimably crucial, the answer is too much for the scope of this article. If you don’t know the answer, please, please email or comment and let me know, and I will be more than happy to explain it. Knowing this is vital, absolutely critical.

But when I phrase it this way… the question opens itself up to being rephrased again, and to really reaching into the heart of a struggle that I see many Christians battling with. A turmoil I see in the lives of people I love. So… you know who you are… this is for you. * smiles *

When everything is against me. When the world opens up at my feet to swallow me…

How do I glorify God in that?

You see how it’s connected? Think about it. God hates sin. He hates evil. He hates death, suffering, misfortune. He uses it, yes, but He doesn’t like it. It is not a part of His perfection which He wants for us (and which He will give us in heaven).

So how is He glorified in it on Earth? And as Christians, where do we fit into that? We are commanded to glorify Him in everything we do, in every circumstance. And really, if you think about it, what else should we want to do?!

So… how do we do it?

It’s hard.

No… scratch that. It’s not.

It’s impossible.

Really. It is. It is superhuman, supernatural — absolutely completely a miracle.

And that is the key. See, in our own strength we can’t glorify God in circumstances like that. We can’t do anything that would bring Him honor or praise or bless Him in any way. So… we do things we can’t do. Impossible things. It’s really as simple as that.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is peace?

Look at a glass of water or a still lake. Look at it… placid… smooth… unrippled. Untouched, unbroken. It is at peace.

Drop a pebble in. It breaks, the surface begins going everywhere, reacting to the stone. It is troubled.

God’s peace is this: Doing what is right regardless of circumstances.

Some people say it is freedom from harm. Which isn’t true. The Holy Spirit brings about peace, as well as troubles and harm (unless being stoned and drowned and beheaded and robbed and broken and tormented doesn’t count as harm…). If peace is freedom from harm, then He contradicts Himself. God forbid.

It might be more accurate to say that it is freedom from fear of harm. But even that isn’t true, because fear is not something you can really get rid of. It is a God-given impulse of our flesh, and we can’t rid ourselves of it any more than we can remove our need for water and food. What really matters isn’t being unfearful, but being courageous.

Courage is doing what is right despite being scared.

That is peace. It is choosing not to let circumstances control you. It is not reacting to things that happen to you — but choosing to respond instead. It is not letting your heartbreak determine what is on your heart’s throne. Doing that is impossible.

The pain is there. It will be there.

But that pain isn’t bad. Not if you glorify God in it. Then it becomes a wondrous thing.

When the very thing which is a punishment and consequence of rebellion against God brings glory to God, when imperfection blesses perfection… that is glorifying God.

So in essence, the way you glorify God in trials is simply to do what you would have done if you didn’t have trials. Make sense?

You still love. You still have joy (not necessarily happiness, though). You still serve. You still forgive. You still trust. You still pray. You still draw closer to God. You are still a little Christ, a little light of His.

And the very fact that you are doing all that while being tormented is what brings God ten-fold glory. Because it is impossible.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t give any Scripture references in this whole blog post. It quotes from the Bible extensively inline, refers to Scripture constantly, and is built solidly upon multiple studies of several topics, but I didn’t give any references. So, I am curious if any of you have any Scripture quotes which apply to this which you would like to share in the comments. Or even if you don’t want to share them, go ahead anyway. 😉

A comment form is right below, and you can get Scripture here:

Have at it. 🙂


I Want to Give Up

Irish Cottage

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, I just want to give up.

Just drop everything, settle down peacefully in some small corner of Ireland with a wife, and read books.

Of course, I would still be me… I would write, and learn things, and make websites, and probably start a church eventually. But I would forget about all these projects, leave them alone, drop them behind, ignore them. Too much effort, too much time, too much heartache and busy-ness. I want peace, I want rest, and I want to be let alone. I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to have thousands of people who know my name, I just want to be by myself with my books and my family off in some green field with a castle in my backyard.

But would I actually be content? Would I be able to do it and actually have the peace I seek there? And also, haha, would I actually be able to restrain my inexorable talent and passion for starting big things?

I doubt it. And would I be able to ask the respect of a wife, if I have abdicated from God’s plan for my life? Would I be able to find God’s peace in my own path? No. I wouldn’t.

That path is for others, others whom God has called to it, but not for me. For me, the burden is a different, and in a way, a heavier one. But it is the only one for me.

And so I go on. I pour out a verdant torrent of projects, of plans, of ideas, of goals. I change the scheme, alter the mood, and overturn worldviews without blinking (no, I haven’t watched Tron, but I want to, and I am very familiar with all the clips on youtube, haha). I challenge presuppositions and I revamp systematic theologies. I break out of the mold and create new cultural mindsets out of thin air.

And I love it. Ask my friends: I can’t separate things from the Big Picture. Every idea I have grows to megalithic proportions, weaving itself into the entirety of my psyche, my plan, my life. I am chronically addicted to starting projects.

But it is tiring, it is exhausting, and it is wearying. But it drives me into God to find the strength I need, and when I go to Him, I do find it. That is how I know this is my path: if it wasn’t, I couldn’t do it.

And so on I go. Here I am. Here I stay. Here I stand. Here I go.

The Semantics of Risk


I am going to embark on a risky subject: a semantic quagmire. I hate semantic debates, for they always tend to disrupt any effort made towards efficient communication. I have yet to see a semantic delineation that was both elegant and clear, while at the same time as brutally practical as semantics need to be. But many times it is helpful to at least try to clear some of the muddy waters made by well-meaning people who know what they are talking about, but who end up mangling the main intent of language: practical communication.

In ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ John Piper spends an entire chapter discoursing on how he believes Christians should view risk and safety. His premises were sound, and his ambitions lofty and good, but his definitions were skewed. And because of this his views on these two very important subjects became obfuscated and cloaked behind an illusion of contradiction with the rest of his book. I will try to sort out his mistake and also to clarify exactly what the Christian’s view of risk and safety ought truly to be.

Piper begins by defining risk, which, as it is his primary term for that chapter, is a good thing. Unfortunately his definition was given too little thought (in my view) and so creates confusion. He defines risk as “any action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.” Throughout the rest of the chapter he uses this to mean loss or injury of physical, temporal things. He goes on to prove that risk is right and good.

Security and safety are illusions, according to Piper, and this is true, so far as his definition of risk goes. We are never secure from death, destruction, or danger, and God does not promise this security to us. This is very ably proven by Piper’s admirable study. What he misses is that peace is a result of a belief of your safety. If safety is an illusion, then peace is an illusion (which is what many people affirm). The problem is that God promises peace to those who put their trust in Him. Material safety does not come from this, though: quite the opposite.

Let us then think of it this way: risk is an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury of what is precious to you. That last addition makes all the difference in the world. If God is most precious to you, then you should not make any risks at all. What this also means is that we can have peace through faith in God just like He promised. When our treasure is in heaven, then it is transcendent, and we have transcendent peace, rather than temporal peace. Thus it is best to make carnal risks (risking things that are carnal), and wrong to make heavenly risks.

Piper admits the difficulty that I have noted in his section entitled ‘Risking for the Wrong Reasons.’ He notes very truly that when you say that making carnal risks (my terms, not his) is good, then Christians begin to create persecution for themselves! It becomes very difficult to explain why this is wrong, until you redefine risk.

So it is that we can find safety, security, and peace in making God and His desires our treasure, our highest desire, and our aim. It is then that we can have transcendent peace, and risk all our carnal possessions and interests, while standing utterly risk-free in the center of God’s will.

I hope that I did not mangle that thought too much. I had a terrible time explaining myself. Again, semantics are not my favorite subject. Did I make sense? Can someone help clarify what I am trying to say?

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser