Whatever Is Necessary

What do we do with the truly awful things of this life? With a loss of love, with a deep constant pain, with a fear that pervades our depths?
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 Discouraged
 It is dangerous to attribute it all to our not loving God enough, although perhaps we could say that is often the case.
Our faith is, as CS Lewis once said, often only a house of cards.
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He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down. ~ CS Lewis A Grief Observed
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We walk around, believing that our foundation is solid, but in truth we are playing at faith. Our house needs a good breath of wind, for if it is never allowed to fall, it can never be rebuilt to last for eternity.
If my faith is only steady enough to endure this life, wouldn’t I want God to blow it down with whatever wind is necessary so that I can endure to the end?
I’m not sure.
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I think I want this, but fear holds me back. Fear of what God, in His infinite love and wisdom, might deal out.
He never promised to be gentle.
Is any pain at all worthwhile if it brings us closer to Him, closer to the sort of life with God that Jesus lived?
The given answer should be yes, but I hesitate and pull back at the brink of giving it.
Which means that I do not yet desire God above all else.
Not truly.
Do many of us?
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We give our hearts over to so many things other than God. . .As long as our happiness is tied to the things we can lose, we are vulnerable. ~ John Eldredge Walking With God
If God is truly enough, if He is what we need for happiness, for contentment, then we should be able to let go of those we love, endure that deep pain, rise above the pervasive fear, because we still have Him.
It is God who remains when all else is gone. It is God who fills us up with Himself so that we do not need anything or anyone else.
In truth, when we lose, when we hurt, we have more of Him than we have in the comfort and in the ease. That in itself should make us turn from the easy way.
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…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. ~ Philippians 3. 7-12
If only I could believe that. Truly know it and live it.
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But without the pain of learning it.

Follow the Signs

May we continue our conversation from last week?


Reality is hard.

Our family has become steeped in pain and loss.


Many others suffer far greater tragedies.

Reconciling the hurt with the heart of God is hard.

It is tempting to add a veneer of softness, to speak in cliches that turn raw, ripped-open pain into a lie.

Sometimes this is even encouraged among those of us who follow Christ.

Yet to do this denies that we are real, that our hearts can be ripped in two, that our pain and loss can suffocate and almost overwhelm us.


To do this denies that Christ is real, that His body and heart were also ripped apart.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All through the Bible, God seems to not place much importance at all on whether we are free from pain or suffering. 

Abel. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. Uriah the prophet. John the BaptistJesus’ cousin. All of the apostles…Jesus’ closest friends.

Understanding why Kristina had to die is hard.


I might never know the reason.

God’s purposes are not for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is…Faith is this unwavering trust in the heart of God in the hurt of here. (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience)

Can I trust in the heart of God?



In C.S. Lewis’ story of Narnia, The Silver Chair, two children (Jill and Scrubb) and one Marsh-wiggle (Puddleglum) are given by Aslan (the Christ-figure) four signs with which to find the lost prince of Narnia. They completely muff the first three signs which leads to their imprisonment with a madman who is chained to (you guessed it!) a silver chair. The fourth and last sign is that someone “will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan”. The madman entreats the three travelers to free him, which is where I will pick up our story:

“Once and for all,” said the prisoner, “I adjure you to set me free. By all fears and all loves, by the bright skies of Overland, by the great Lion, by Aslan himself, I charge you –” 

“Oh!” said the three travelers as though they had been hurt. “It’s the sign,” said Puddleglum. “It was the words of the sign,” said Scrubb more cautiously. “Oh, what are we to do?” said Jill.


It was a dreadful question. What had been the use of promising one another that they would not on any account set the Knight free, if they were now to do so the first time he happened to call upon a name they really cared about? On the other hand, what had been the use of learning the signs if they weren’t going to obey them? Yet could Aslan have really meant them to unbind anyone – even a lunatic – who asked it in his name? … They had muffed three already; they daren’t muff the fourth.


“Oh, if only we knew!” said Jill.


“I think we do know,” said Puddleglum.


“Do you mean you think everything will come right if we do untie him?” said Scrubb.


“I don’t know about that,” said Puddleglum. “You see, Aslan didn’t tell (Jill) what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us once he’s up, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the sign.”

That doesn’t let us off following the sign.

We aren’t guaranteed that anything here on earth will turn out okay. I wish we did have that promise. 

Instead, if we have nothing else (and we do have so much else!), if we can turn to and trust nothing else, we have the cross.

After his wife of only four years had died of cancer, C. S. Lewis said 

If only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it, instead of her…But is it ever allowed? It was allowed to One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, “You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared.”

And so I find that perhaps, after all, it does not matter why. It does not matter from whence came the hard thing. 


If God ever had to prove anything, at the cross He proved His love, His promise to work for the best of all He created.

It is not a bad thing to seek for the why’s and how’s and from where’s. God is able to handle our questions, our fears.

Yet if we never get any answers, if we never know the reasons, if we never understand, we who have chosen to follow Christ, who have allowed Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, we who have embraced His sacrifice of love…

We aren’t let off following the signs. 

Art Credits: Photograph of Cross wooden statue by Asta Rastauskiene
; Marsh-wiggle picture (I was not able to find the original); Rembrandt’s The Three Crosses  

Thanks also to my wonderful Dad who gave me some of the ideas in this essay.

This is Hard.

Grief is hard.

While the rest of us can return to our lives and, for at least a few hours, forget, my brother is faced with his new reality every moment of every day.



The loss of his beloved, now a single daddy…

Reality is hard.

I want to know God and part of knowing Him must involve reconciling what I see around me to what I know of Him through His Words.



The seeking results in ideas and wonderings that reverberate through my heart.

You have walked with me through many of my searchings in the darkness. Will you join me for a few more?

Does God send suffering? Does He send pain?

Some would recoil at the idea. 

But why? We see pain result in good all the time in our world. Go to any hospital and look around.

I talk with my youngest brother about this.



He of the scientific bent points out that many things that sometimes have “tragic” results are very important to the existence of the earth, even to our own existence: without wildfires, ecosystems would collapse; without seismic and volcanic activity, our earth could not refresh itself; hurricanes aid island ecosytems; the gene mutations that sometimes produce cancer prevent us from all being clones.

The Bible seems to suggest that God does, at least sometimes, send bad things:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life…But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. ~ II Corinthians 1

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “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

Perhaps, though, whether or not He sends them doesn’t matter. 

Bad things happen.


If God doesn’t send them, He certainly has the power to stop them. Yet He chooses to allow them to happen.

Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. Either way, we’re for it. (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed)

Either way we are left trying to reconcile these things with the God that we know to be good.

We are left trying to reconcile the hurt with His heart.

There are tears everywhere and God catches them, puts them into His bottle.

God is always good and we are always loved. Loved enough to be shaped into goodness of Christ Himself. (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience)

This reconciliation is hard.

How have you done this? How have you reconciled these hard things with the character of our God?

Will you join me next week as I search through these ideas even more?

I Hate Death

I hate death.



Is that too raw, too vulnerable?



Perhaps, but it’s true.


I have spent a lot of my adult life trying to claim that death is not bad, that death allows us to be with God.


That’s what many Christians would say, wouldn’t they?


But that’s not what they really believe.



Why do we think that we have to defend death?


C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed, says 

It is hard to have patience with people who say, “There is no death” or “Death doesn’t matter.” There is death. And whatever is matters…I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?

Maybe because that is what we were taught in our churches.  Maybe because of pieces of Scripture that we read such as “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” ~ Philippians 1.21


We long to be with God, long to see Him face-to-face, long for the day when there will be no more hurting, suffering or tears…


And we long for the day when there will be no more death.



Isn’t death what gets us to that glorious day?


Yes, but that isn’t how it was supposed to be.


We weren’t supposed to have to die to get to God, we were supposed to simply live with God.

And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” ~ Genesis 3.22

We brought death into this world through our sin and death is our enemy.


Our enemy!

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. ~ Psalm 55.4

Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death. ~ Psalm 68.20

For you, LORD, have delivered my soul from death… ~ Psalm 116.8

On this mountain he (the Lord) will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. ~ Isaiah 25.7-8

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O death, is your destruction? ~ Hosea 13.14

We have opened the door and allowed death to enter our world.



Jesus came and defeated our enemy.  Did you hear?  Death is defeated!!!!!

…through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. ~ II Timothy 1.10

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~ I Corinthians 15.26

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. ~ Romans 6.9

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ~ Revelation 21.4

This is how it is supposed to be.


So go ahead. You have permission.


Hate death. Give praise and thanks and glory to God.







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