Saturday, May 19, 2012

Suffering pt4

Did Joseph suffer under the hands of his brothers? Some may think that he didn't. I would think that he did have some times of silent suffering. Let's remember that he was a favored son of Jacob. That in itself put a target on his back. Brothers do not like the favored son, especially in that society.  The eldest son was always the one in highest favor. He received the blessing from the patriarch of the family. The estate went to the eldest. Now, Joseph is the favored and on top of that Jacob highlights his position by giving him a garment that sets him apart even further. Now, Joseph, in his youthful ignorance did not help the situation. When he explained his dreams to his brothers, that they would bow down to him. Well, that did not go over very well and set him up for future events.

When Joseph was tossed into the pit and was close to being killed by his brothers do you suppose he had a positive attitude? How would any person feel if they knew their brothers wanted them dead? This is the point where some might disagree. It would seem that any body in that position would have a time of anguish and pain over the thought that they were hated by their own. When he was sold into slavery he had no idea that he would be going to a palace and power. He most certainly would have know of the slave trade and the treatment of a common slave in Egypt. The ideas of enslavement and abuse can be worse than the events themselves.

Joseph finds favor in the house of his master. His life becomes on of relative ease until, the wife of his master conjures up the story that Joseph tried to seduce her. Now, he ends up in prison. It is the royal prison, and he is with two servants of the Pharaoh. After Joseph tells the two men what their dreams meant, one is set free and one is hung. Now, Joseph is prison for two years before the man set free remembers Joseph interpretation of his dream. The Pharaoh sets Joseph free and is so impressed he enlists Joseph to help the people survive an upcoming famine.

It would seem that the hardship, suffering, of Joseph was coming to an end. His wisdom enables the people to survive the famine. During the time of want Joseph comes face to face with his brothers. they have come to Egypt to buy grain. They want to buy the grain that Joseph's wisdom guaranteed would be available. The brothers have no idea that Joseph is alive. Through a series of events Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. I would imagine they would think that their heads are soon to be detached. Joseph has a reunion with his father, Jacob.

The spiritual key is found in the words of Joseph himself. He told his brothers that they meant evil and suffering for him but, God meant the entire season of his-story for good and the survival of a great people. I do not believe that Joseph recognized this act of providence as the events unfolded. The light would come on as Joseph looked back and recognized the fingerprint of God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Suffering pt.3

Eve gives birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. In the passing of time the two boys grow up and begin working with their hands. One boy works the ground and the other works with animals. They know what each other is up to. Cain brought an offering to God of the fruit of the ground. God must have known that Cain's offering was not meeting his standard. God was not pleased with Cain's offering and it is not because it was the fruit of the ground. Later, God would accept the fruit of the ground as a standard form of offering. God spoke to Cain about the offering and that He was displeased. Abel brought his offering, the firstling of the flock and God had regard and acceptance for it. Cain told Abel about his rejected offering. After this event Cain kills his brother.

What suffering is emerging from this first murder? As I read scripture, up to this point no one has died. Now Adam and Eve have a dead son. His life is over and his body will quickly begin the process of returning to its original state, dust. Adam and Eve would have grieved, their hearts would be heavy with loss. We share human responses just as the first parents responded. The emotional loss and mental anguish that we deal with at the death of a loved one, the suffering, has been since Adam and Eve.

Cain, whether we want to believe it or not, will suffer. His suffering will be similar as his parents, the loss of family. Yet, his suffering will also be in an entire different dimension. He is guilty of murder, the taking of another life. The life of his brother is over at his hand and that fact will be ever present. He may try and disguise, reject, ignore, lie, pass the blame, the truth will be ever present with him. That is a new form of suffering for mankind.

Cain also suffers the pain of rejection. He is cast from his homeland by God and reverts to wandering and toiling a land that will reject his every attempt. Rejection is a from of emotional suffering that would be excruciating and could lead to loneliness and even more rejection. Rejection can be a monster that feeds on itself. The more a person is rejected the more rejectable they might become. Cain is given a mark so no person can take his life. That mark insures rejection. He is a marked man. No one will kill him and end his suffering, he must take his own life if he is to end his punishment. Cain passes into obscurity in scripture, his ending is in rejection.

The next piece will deal with Joseph and his suffering at the hands of his brothers. Also, the suffering of Joseph will be looked at in the light of providence. An entire piece, or two will be devoted to Job. Job suffers under the permissive hand of God, but, at the direct challenge of Satan.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Suffering pt2

As I wrote in the last posting suffering is common, yet it is solitary and at times without comfort. Suffering attacks our senses.  People suffer pain, from the discomfort to the agony. And, that pain can be felt in all of our senses. Some suffering comes as a result of decisions or choices that we make. Some suffering comes to the innocent and the unexpecting. When suffering falls upon the innocent of the world we are filled with questions that are without answers.

I need to reiterate a point. What is, is not what was. I would like to explore suffering as it has to do with people of faith. People who have faith in the love and sovereignty of God as shown to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, ought to have a different view of suffering. I would like to explore suffering from a Christian view beginning with the beginning, Genesis. Perfection in relationships between man and God was the norm as Genesis shows. Adam and God shared perfect fellowship in the created world. Adam was given the responsibility of stewardship over his world. He was to tend the garden paradise and name each creature placed in his world.

Adam was given a partner in Eve. She was created by God using a sacrifice from Adam. his rib. Again, they lived in perfect happiness and harmony with their Creator. As Adam and Eve chose to exercise their free will and break the expressed command of God the consequences were immediate, far reaching, and everlasting. As a result of the fall, a commonly used term, suffering becomes part of the human experience.

As a direct result of Adam's fall two immediate pronouncements are made. Adam is destined to till the earth by the sweat of his brow and the earth will yield with a grudge as Adam will fight thorns and thistles. Adam will be tormented as he remembers what he enjoyed in the garden. He will struggle until his death, which is the second pronouncement. As had enjoyed perfect fellowship his living in paradise was intended to be everlasting. By his disobedience he will return to the dust of the earth.

Eve will share in the pronouncements upon Adam. She will struggle upon the earth and die. Another pronouncement upon Eve is the pain she will suffer with bearing children. So, physical pain enters the life of Eve. Physical and mental suffering will be Adams as he tills the stubborn earth and remembers how things were in paradise.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I need to begin by stating very clearly that this subject is beyond the scope of any honest person who uses words to help the living. I almost told a good friend that I didn't want to attempt this article. I know he has suffered greatly, in physical pain, and I would surmise emotional and mental pain. I know very little of suffering as I think of friends and brothers and sisters who share my faith. I will not quote or use other writers to validate my points or ideas. What I will write is based on my own experience with suffering and coming alongside those who have suffered and allowed me into their world.

Suffering, What is it? Suffering is an attack on the senses of the person. I use the word, attack, to describe the ferocity of intent. Suffering comes in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of living. It can affect all four areas of our life, or just one or two. Many people who suffer fight in more than one dimension. My suffering seemed to encompass every area of living. One of the most severe wounds of the one who suffers is in the sense of, aloneness. Even surrounded I am alone. Alone in the pain. Even with the people that love me the most, my pain is mine. The darkness is mine. The questioning is mine. The silence of unanswered prayers is mine. Every aspect of the suffering belongs to the one who suffers.  Suffering is common to man yet it is distinctly individual. My suffering is never to be compared to the suffering of others, in the aspect that mine is worse than yours. Yes, there will always be people who suffer much worse than I. I have already stated how little I know of the subject.

Some suffering despises logic and understanding. Reasoning and logic will never answer why suffering abounds. Why do innocents suffer from hunger and disease. Who do millions starve and die? The answers of greed and corruption have been used for centuries. We know we have the resources to feed the hungry of the world. When we lived in Zambia I drove past a government depot that had thousands upon thousands of pounds of corn rotting in the sun. A person will go nuts trying to figure out why this happens. Couldn't God bring all of this madness to an end? Is there anything He cannot do? With an Old Testament wave of His arm He could strike down every corrupt leader and overturn every evil domain. Yet, He does not.

Suffering, Never Intended to be-Suffering was never intended to be part of the human experience.  It is now, not as it was. The created world was to be an icon of the Creator, perfect in every way. The first man and woman were created and set in their paradise to have communion and fellowship in perfect harmony and peace with God. With the created order came the will of mankind and the angelic world. The scriptures teach of chaos is the cosmos. The spiritual rebellion that sent self seeking spiritual beings to their downfall and Lucifer to his eventual demise. The will that was given to mankind would lead to his own downfall and suffering. God said that He would make mankind in His own image. The ability to choose right and wrong, love and hate, is the greatest gift and biggest curse. When mankind chose self-satisfaction and selfishness suffering was the unknown and unseen invader in life.