Chapter 20: “Except You See Signs and Wonders”

February 10, 2007

Now wouldn’t it have just been unfair for the official’s son to have died? What did that kid ever do wrong to deserve such treatment? Of course the Jews were taught then that sickness was the wrath of God.

I’m studying about a God who doesn’t choose suffering as a means, but allows it. Many people have a problem with God on this issue. I think the problem is our little brains tend toward a fantasy of justice. We want immediate answers and swift judgement. And if God worked on that system, I’d be dead along with you. This chapter doesn’t deal with justice or even reasons for suffering in the world. But what it does cover is our perception of God, the games we play on the road to faith, and how God responds to our games.

“He [the nobleman] hoped that a father’s prayers might awaken the sympathy of the Great Physician. … But already his sorrow was known to Jesus. Before the officer had left his home, the Saviour had beheld his affliction.” DA194

If there is a Sympathy who is always awake, it is Jesus. Have you ever felt in prayer that you needed to come to God to convince Him of your sorrow? If we are not so narrow in our understanding of the empathy of Christ, why are our prayers often structured like this nobleman’s prayers? Maybe I’m being too harsh.

“But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the Messiah. … Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request.” DA194

What a shocking look at the inside of a human! I hate looking in this type of mirror. No wonder God allows sorrow. Think of the implications of any other system. If Jesus did not allow bad things to happen to good people on this sinful planet, we would turn His love into a currency. I’ll pay you love if you give me what I want. Rather, sorrow is the lot of every man, and hope is it’s partner for every man and woman who truly believe that God is Love regardless of suffering that lasts for a while. God always takes the long view, and I know that His hope is that we will love Him now, and trust His sympathy even in the face of sorrow and death.

God revealed the thoughts of at least one man that day. The man’s needy soul and lack of faith was brought into the brightness of holiness, and when it crumbled, Jesus replaced it with a faith that went beyond the answered prayer. God want’s all of us to take Him at His word, even in the face of death. It’s not easy, but neither is it easy to allow suffering when suffering was never the plan.

Are you willing to allow suffering in your own life so that you might have the chance to grasp faith?

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4 Responses to “Chapter 20: “Except You See Signs and Wonders””

  1. George Sova said

    I was interested in your last comment about our willingness to allow suffering. It seems to me that the only choice we have regarding the subject of suffering is how will we choose to respond to the circumstances which engulf us. Faith can either grow or diminish in that context. My personal belief is we all suffer to some extent. Being born on planet earth guarntees that regardless of position or standing. I choose to respond to suffering in view of God’s grace and promises. Although it doesn’t always make sense from a my limited human perspective or feel very good for that matter.
    In God’s Great Abundance,
    George Sova

  2. wallygoots said

    Thanks George,

    Just as you pointed out, I think our culture is loath to allow the acceptance of suffering, and even that God may be able to use something that He doesn’t cause.

    Mom said you have been preaching on thirst. I recently spoke on the same texts (I think). Wish I could have heard it, are your sermons online?

    Peace, Seth

  3. Carla said

    This chapter really made me think about what conditions I may put on my requests to God. God knows my heart, He knows my need, and He sees the suffering in my life. I want to be like Jacob and prevail.

    “The Savior cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. ‘Go thy way,’ He said; ‘thy son liveth.'” DA 198. I must cling to Jesus and He will give me more than I ask or can imagine.

    “Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love.” DA 200 Do I suffer because of my lack of trust? Do I recognize my own need?

    “When we have asked for His blessing we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have received it. Then we are to go about our duties, assuerd that the blessing will be realized when we need it most.” DA 200. I want the calm the officer had as he returned home. No need to rush home and see if his son was alive. He believed that it was so!

  4. George Sova said

    Seth,
    It’s been great to re-connect with your mom and dad. Your site is great. I agree with your cousin awhile back when she suggested you write a book. I’m doing a series on the Holy Spirit. The last couple have been focusing on how to bridge the gap between God’s presence in my life 24/7 and my awareness and sensitivity to His presence. How to “not” quench the Spirit when we’re in negative circumstances was addressed, with hope and understanding I pray. Re-connecting with the DA this new year has been a breath of fresh air for me. Thanks for your insights.
    Blessings,
    George

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