Tag Archive | timothy keller

when understood.

Yesterday, I read this:

“God’s anger is that of a father who is unconditionally committed to his children but because of that is furious at their sin. There is nothing that affects us like the displeasure of one we love and adore. This fatherly anger, full of unfailing love, when understood, is a transforming motivation that makes us willing and able to change.”  The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller

full of unfailing love, when understood.

There’s a lot we don’t understand about God.

But there is enough we do understand.

We either see an angry God, aloof and disconnected or we see him as loving to the extent of accepting whatever we do or how we live.

Both are wrong.

It’s up to us to understand. And we can.

We may say because we cannot understand everything we cannot understand anything. If you believe in God, if you believe Jesus died on behalf of your sin, you must believe in a benevolent God who didn’t leave us without understanding some things.

Maybe not all, but some. And some, is enough.

The most important thing we can understand from the Bible is God’s character. There is plenty there to tell us what He is like and what He will do.

It’s true – God is angry at sin. That’s kind of hard to understand in a world which accepts so much sinful behavior, along with accusations of not loving if you don’t accept it.

Excuses are made. Labels are applied. But the bottom line is sin is a real thing we have to come to terms with.

But then there is God so loved the world …

He lowered Himself to become a part of humanity.

He dwelt among us.

He gave Himself on the cross and his anger was justified at the cross.

Again, this may be difficult to comprehend because society has become so accepting of certain sinful behaviors (more so than 10, 20, 50 years ago) it may be hard to remember that God sees things differently than we do. I mean, after all, he is God, right?

Yet, He also loves us in a way we cannot fully grasp. Our love is limited. His is not. Our love is conditional. God’s love is unconditional.

Does that mean he loves us no matter what? Yes. He embodies love in the highest form – sacrificing Himself on our behalf.

So how does this help a hurting person?

Unless you know who God is, you are unlikely to trust him.

If you think he is just angry, you will stay clear of Him.

If you think he is just loving, you will be angry because He “let this happen”.

The only way you can trust Him is to understand who he is. Not what you think He is, but who He really is.

What does God want from us? Following all the rules and regulations?

He wants our love.

We cannot love what we don’t understand.

When we find out who God is – what He is really like – we will be motivated to be willing and able to change.

Believe me. When you begin learning what God is really like, you will begin loving Him, because you will start to trust Him. You find out he really does comfort you. He really does give you peace in your mind.

And you will want to change only because you love Him; not because you have to behave in order to go to Heaven.

It’s not just about changing how we live, but how we view God through what the Bible tells us about Him. We either believe it or we don’t. And because God loves us so much, it’s okay to ask Him to help us believe.

The reason to change is because it works. Like a good, earthly father, He knows what is best for us. The reason to avoid this and do not do that is to keep us happy and safe.

Hurting people get angry at God.

Hurting people get bitter.

Hurting people hurt themselves even more when they don’t turn to God for help.

He is there, waiting for you.

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Mara ~earth light~ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

 

happiness.

There are many wonderful things in life that make us happy.

We should relish those things and keep them close.

But life is not always happy.

When we face  situations that make us unhappy, we feel empty. We don’t like our happiness taken away.

I believe with all my heart that God knows the next step and something good can come out of our unhappiness.

Your unhappiness has the ability to drive you to find happiness somewhere. This is why so many turn to “other” things to cope.

True and permanent happiness comes from God. I mean, he created happiness in the first place.

What does this mean? It means when you are alone in your sadness, reach out to God. Talk to him. When you draw near to him, he draws near to you. He will not force himself on you. But he gives you plenty of clues that he is around.

We all know we are happiest when all is well. This means that something in our lives is secure. We don’t have to worry. When things are out of our control, we look for something to make us happy again. Even if it’s temporary.

I read this today and this popped out to me:

Laments (deep grieving or sadness) lead to a deeper resting in Him for our happiness.

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The happiness from God is deeper than any happiness found on earth. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the happy things that life gives us. It means when those happy things are not there we can still maintain a deeper, steady happiness that is like a slow burning candle deep within us.

The roots of a tree dig deeper into the earth when there is a drought.

We have to dig deeper, too.

~~~

photo from The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller

God is not an American.

“Sociologists and anthropologists have analyzed and compared the various ways that cultures train its members for grief, pain, and loss. And when this comparison is done, it is often that our own contemporary secular, Western culture is one of the weakest and worst in history at doing so.”

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering – Timothy Keller

When you’ve felt the deepest sorrow in the world, you want answers.

There are times when we won’t get all the answers.

But the statement above gave me a good answer. Because we often wonder why we feel so isolated from others when we are suffering; particularly in the death of a child.

Americans aren’t always right. Sometimes we think we are in how we view things.

Our culture is all about rising above it, staying the course, being victorious.

Thing is, putting this first, without allowing the process of grieving, those things only hinder. The grieving condition is denied when the griever is expected to put a smile on their face and get back in the saddle of life again, looking the part everyone wants them to play.

The American way. 

Except, God is not an American.

The depth of sorrow we feel will be the depth of answers we need.

We won’t get all the answers. But at least we will get some. And I believe God gives us those answers along the way when we need them.

It doesn’t fix it, but it validates the pain.

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the story of Job.

Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God, and that was enough.

Timothy Keller

There is a historical account in the Bible of a man named Job (long “o”).

He experienced a time of horrible suffering. He lost children, possessions, and health.

He had 3 friends who came to sit with him in his distress. The Bible records their conversations with Job, who were disingenuous at best.

So, on top of his personal grief, Job had to suffer more without comfort and encouragement from his friends.

At the end of the story, God comes and speaks to Job and his friends. In the end, Job received even more than he originally had. Job suffered greatly. But that wasn’t the end of the story. And as Timothy Keller points out, Job did not question. He never knew why.

Instead, this is what Job says:

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Job saw God.

We have the opportunity to see God when we are suffering.

Job is an inspiration to all of us. Even if you don’t believe the Bible, there are people all over the world who are suffering like Job did.

And there are people, like Job, who saw God in their suffering.

I have been a Christian for 40 years. It wasn’t until I experienced the worst pain of my life that I could really say I “saw” God.

While I don’t understand why, seeing God was enough to not allow “why” to consume me for the rest of my life.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because when you see God, you know he is real, and you can believe what he says. No one can take that experience away from you, no matter what they say!

bud

~~~

Photo credit: nano.maus via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

answers.

When we’re suffering, we look for answers.

Sometimes, they have been there all along.

The Bible says: Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

That means God knew some of us would be neglected or disowned by our fathers and/or mothers.

The Bible says: Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.

That means God knew we would be afraid.

The Bible says: Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

That means God knew we would worry.

The Bible says: You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

That means God knew we would cry.

These may not seem like answers but they are. They do not answer why God does not stop bad things from happening. That is the answer we all really want.

We aren’t going to get that anwer now. To keep asking will only discourage and frustrate us. We will be miserable and bitter.

But to know God wants to comfort, strengthen, and help us when everything is wrong, tells us the kind of God he is. He is not distanced or angry.

Job, was a man who knew physical, mental, and emotional suffering. He was a blameless man of complete integrity. Yet, “Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God, and that was enough.” (Timothy Keller)

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. –Job 42:5

What is your situation?

Are you willing for Him to be your answer?

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Mara ~earth light~ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND