God’s Got Plans – pain and hardship and getting beyond

[Today’s guest post is from Damon J. Gray, a writer who knows pain and what is past the pain.]

Donning a look of deep concern, my counselor fixed his eyes on mine and said, “With everything you have been through over the past two years, I am amazed that you are still sane.” Sometimes life astonishes us with its ability to inflict pain.

During a keynote address at the 2019 West Coast Christian Writers Conference, Bill Giovanneti said “The world is a morally broken pain machine.” Adding emphasis to his point, he made the same statement twice. Everyone reading this knows the truth of Bill’s words.

The Appalling Capacity to Abuse

In our egocentric lust for money, sex, and power, the human race has an appalling capacity for using and abusing others with absolute disregard. We form an emotional callus to the needs of all but ourselves, convinced that our needs and our comforts are paramount. It is sociopathic, and it is not the life to which God has called us.

Such has been the story of humanity since the day Cain killed Abel. But the Christ-follower knows God’s history of turning horror into glory, and secure in that knowledge, we refuse to play the role of a victim. “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6, ESV)

Joseph’s brothers, in their hatred and jealousy, sold him into slavery. God used Joseph to “save many lives” from seven years of famine. The Persian official, Haman, hated the Jew, Mordecai, and in his rage toward Mordecai attempted to annihilate the entirety of the Jewish people. But God turned circumstances on their head, exalting Mordecai and humiliating Haman. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to be burned to death in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. Daniel was to be devoured by lions for refusing to pray to Darius. Jeremiah was to be drowned in a well. Jesus was to be beaten, crucified, dead and buried forever.

None of these succeeded!

God Frustrates Evil and Ensures Victory

God has other plans, and in those plans, the wrath of humanity is turned to the praise of God. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise you.” (Psalm 76:10a, ESV) The more God’s enemies rage against him and his people, the more their plans are turned to frustration because we will not be defeated, and in this, God is glorified.

I am not proposing that life is without pain and trouble. The Word of God never promises that. What I am saying is that as we walk faithfully with Jesus the troubles of life do not defeat us, and that the wrath of humanity cannot prevail against us. We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purposes. (Romans 8:28)

As Christ-followers, we purposely do not look at the momentary bitterness life dishes out to us. Rather, we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) It is he who will bind up our wounds and comfort our sorrows.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV-1973)

 

Blessings upon you my friends.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

***

Damon J. Gray is a writer, speaker, husband, father, grandfather, former pastor, and Director of Communications for Inspire Christian Writers. Damon pursues his passion for teaching, making disciples, and advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ, by calling on men and women to embrace Long-View Living in a Short-View World. Damon, his wife Alean, and their cats, Mister Bear and Sebastien, live in beautiful Lynden, WA, just three miles south of the Canadian border. YOu can find him at his blog, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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5 Responses to God’s Got Plans – pain and hardship and getting beyond

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    Very encouraging post. Thank you for reminding us of these truths that go deeper than our circumstances.

  2. Anu Riley says:

    Thank you for writing this. I think the words “the appalling capacity to abuse” said it very well. It is hard to express or fully explain the amount of evil that human beings are able (and choose) to inflict on one another. Sociopathic is certainly the right description. A complete lack of conscience (seared is how the Bible puts it), or a conscience that is evil and refuses to work correctly.

    I would take issue with the words “we refuse to play the role of a victim.” Being a victim is simply a fact—and if you’ve been victimized—there is no shame in admitting that. Many people who were victims refuse to admit it, because the word itself “victim” seems to have negative connotations.

    It implies that they were weak, helpless, powerless, and could not fight or escape or do anything to stop or prevent what was done to them. This can be a very hard conclusion to come to.

    The word “victim” means that you are not to blame. Someone else is responsible for the evil they did to you, and you are not responsible for their choices. In some ways, it is a very freeing realization, absolving them of whatever unfair blame or shame they may have carried around for years.

    We tend to blame the victims (if not entirely, then at least partially), or accuse them of all sorts of alternative motives. This only feeds the false narrative that they are “playing the role of a victim” to gain sympathy, fame, money, pity or some type of revenge against their attacker. And the condemnation usually goes from bad to worse.

    Perhaps you meant that we do not remain in victimhood, which is a far different thing. Being a believer gives us the hope of victory for sure. But for some or most of us, we are only getting glimpses of that victory, because the road to healing and wholeness is a slow, steady but painful journey.

    Admitting you were a victim is one of the first and major steps to healing, in my mind. Trusting Him with avenging the wrongs done to us is also a major step. Remembering that we were once victimized is also key, because nothing is more precious than being able to empathize with the broken and burdened—-who need to know that they are not alone.

    Your post was spot in in many respects, so I want to leave it on a positive and encouraging note. It’s very refreshing to hear a believer be up front and honest about such things. It understandably can cause discomfort and even a sense of anger—-why must you bring up the screaming of the suffering? And why can’t they just keep quiet and keep silent about “such things?”

    Because in essence, such screaming indicates the screaming need for a Savior. If we believe in such a Savior, then we should encourage and acknowledge those screams. No one BUT a Savior like Him knows how much they need Him.

  3. damonjgray says:

    Anu, thank you for such a comprehensive reply. I appreciate that so much. Thank you also for challenging my phraseology. Having read your response, and reread my own wording, I am going to have to completely agree with you. It is much more in keeping with my thought process to say “we refuse to remain in victimhood.”

    Very well said, my friend. I appreciate that clarification.

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