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It was supposed to be a doctor's visit like any other. My wife would come home and say, as she had done many times before, that everything was okay, and that she should get lots of exercise and eat fruits and vegetables—what doctors always ...

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Displaying 1–27 of 27 comments

Brenda Sansom-Moorey

August 23, 2013  5:34pm

Peter- Thank you so much for this article. When I started reading it, I was fully prepared to read that your wife had died, that you had wrestled with grief and had somehow made peace with the inevitable tragedy. I've read countless Christian essays like that, and in my own struggles with health issues, I usually feel more discouraged after I'm done with them. Whatever the authors' intent, the message I sometimes take away is that God can only be counted on for comfort after the unstoppable devastation. I don't believe that. I've seen God do inexplicable "extra-human" things that interrupt and turn back apparently hopeless trajectories. They aren't "miracles" that show up at random; they're works of God that have a meaning and a purpose, and we can see more of them when we're tuned into his wavelength and are willing to go where he goes. The ending of your story was a joyful surprise and filled me with encouragement and hope.

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Kim ODonnell

August 17, 2013  7:41am

Having just gone through surgery for breast cancer, I was amazed (and pleased with myself) for having no anger or negative emotions toward God throughout the experience. However, upon reading your article, I wept for a long time. Obviously, there is more going on in me than I realize. Thank you, Peter, for giving me a clue to what I need to examine to uncover why I don't trust God more.

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audrey ruth

August 16, 2013  6:55pm

Cheeky, I agree with you that Christians should not suffer alone and local churches should 'be' the church by offering support. Sadly, that's not always Christians' experience. My experience compares somewhat with Job's (not all the calamities which befell him) in that my pastor and friends actually turned out to be "Job's friends", condemning out of ignorance instead of humbly seeking to be a real help. That only intensified the fire I went through. The good thing, though, is that the Lord was so tender and compassionate and loving to me each morning (and often through the night) as I sought Him in His Word and in prayer. I learned that one can go through ANY thing if the Lord is with him, period. It is a wonderful thing to have genuine friends who love and care and pray, and I experienced that during a fiery trial about ten years later. Just ONE friend like that is a miracle. But I learned that there is truly "a friend who sticks closer than a brother" - His Name is Jesus!!!

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Cheeky Monk

August 16, 2013  5:29pm

Great article Peter. I hope I will remember your story when I go through trials of my own. Christians should not suffer alone, local church is always there for support.

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audrey ruth

August 15, 2013  2:40pm

Dear Peter (and Carol), wow, what a blessing it is that you have written such an honest article! As one who has also been through a severe fire (though not the same type), I can identify with everything you said - and the very Scriptures you posted were very dear to me throughout. I learned that truly "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Those who been THROUGH the fire and have come out on the other end even MORE blessed than before, having learned truly what is only of temporary worth and what is eternally important - these can understand and identify with you. Even better, we can glorify God with you! Truly He IS Emmanuel. He will never ever leave us or forsake us. I was especially blessed to learn of your courageous decision not to abort and the amazing things you learned about that afterward which God knew from the beginning. I've learned that He sees all the way down the road, though we cannot even see around the next bend. Praise His Holy Name!!!

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James Cowles

August 14, 2013  12:37pm

@Kevin Thompson: "the issue is not that God doesn't deliver what He never promised to deliver but that He doesn't deliver on what scripturally speaking we might reasonably expect Him to deliver. Thus sometimes He appears present but often He is completely absent. He heals some but most are left asking." Yes ... precisely ... your honesty is both rare and appreciated. My response: the circumstances that you enumerate are indistinguishable from the workings of blind chance and causality. So, instead of inventing "epicycles" purely to preserve appearances like theologically orthodox geocentric astronomers did in the time of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, why not just tip your hat to Occam's Razor and opt for the simplest solution: there is no God, no Plan, and no Pattern. That latter approach is much less comforting, but is (a) more consistent with our experience and (b) avoids the perennial conundra, e.g., "problem of evil", of positing a God Who is in charge.

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peter chin

August 14, 2013  8:01am

i very much know how you feel kevin. i often felt like either God did not exist (silence), or his character was nothing like i thought (cruelty). i cried out to God, "why? why cancer, why failure, why crime, why death?" (we had miscarried during this time too) and his answer? often silence, absence, and i despaired. but then glimmers of light, daily bread, and beyond all understanding, a miraculous child. in that process, my conception of silence, absence, inconsistency was imploded. my "reasonable expectation" were reasonable but narrow and worldly, shackling God to work within the narrow confines of what i wanted, or could imagine. isn't Jesus's story the same, the totally unexpected (and largely undesired) answer to generations of prayer and apparent silence? it's so hard, but we need silence to shatter us because cs lewis says it himself, that our idea of God is not a divine one, and has to be shattered from time to time. btw, this 1000 word count is killing me.

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Kevin Thompson

August 14, 2013  7:13am

For me, Peter, the issue is not that God doesn't deliver what He never promised to deliver but that He doesn't deliver on what scripturally speaking we might reasonably expect Him to deliver. Thus sometimes He appears present but often He is completely absent. He heals some but most are left asking. Occasionally there is guidance but often complete silence. ..Truly God seems so often the Wild God you mention in that experientially speaking He seems at the very least to be so inconsistent in His dealings with us. And there is more. As C.S. Lewis said in A Grief Observed "....go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?"

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audrey ruth

August 13, 2013  10:55pm

I'm reminded of words of wisdom which Betsie ten Boom spoke to her sister Corrie when they were imprisoned in Ravensbruck concentration camp for hiding Jews from Nazis in their Dutch homeland during WW2 - “There is no pit so deep, that God's love is not deeper still.”

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K La

August 13, 2013  9:22pm

Deep discussion, full of grace and truth. My story of childhood abuse, divorce from pastor, loss of entire church community, child disabled, and sense of abandonment by God placed me in despair. Church answers in various forms: 1-"God has a purpose and will bring good from this." (Jerry Sitser's [A Grace Disguised] response: that is ODIOUS theology unworthy of the God of the bible.) 2--"There must be sin in your life." (Go tell that to Joni Erickson Tada). 3--"You need to focus on the GOOD from God in each torturous day." (There is in fact such a thing as being given more suffering than you can bear in which case staying alive and doing your duty to others is as positive as one can muster.) My answer differs from Mr. Cowles. I still believe the truth of the gospel. Jesus suffered for me. Now though, I do not await earthly joy or peace. John the Baptist was faithful to his calling and got his head on a platter. I am not disenfranchised from the eternal kingdom by my despair.

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peter chin

August 13, 2013  6:58pm

(CONT'D) But this is not to say that God promises us nothing. He promises his presence, which means a lot to me. Hope, for this life and the next. A community, although not perfect. Purpose beyond my own life. Redemption that we may not see with our own eyes, but we know is coming. And I can testify that these things did come to pass, at least in my own situation. Does this mean I will never suffer again, that my wife will never get cancer, or that I will never weep? No, it doesn't. But when I weep, I know Christ weeps with me, and promises me a day where I never will again. But the only way to see these things is to persevere. God's plans unfold over years, decades, lifetimes even beyond our own. Persevere and see the wild ways of God unfold. Give up, and of course it will seem like God has abandoned you...you left in Act 2! And that points more to our impatience than God's unfaithfulness. But I know how hard life can be, so my prayers are with you all.

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peter chin

August 13, 2013  6:46pm

Hello everyone, thanks for these wonderfully probing remarks! For those who are going through the ringer, my heart breaks with you. It is perfectly okay to feel betrayed by God, and there are many instances of anger in Scripture. But for me, MY feelings of betrayal by God were very much based on a wrong notion of what God promises. When I suffered and was disappointed, I felt betrayed. Why, because he had promised I would never see such things? No. The life of Israel, Jesus, and the disciples are FILLED with disappointment and suffering. Honestly, I felt betrayed because deep down, I thought God was supposed to give me happiness, career advancement, health and long life. He had broken "promises" he never made. And I realized that feeling betrayed by God for breaking promises he never made is hardly proof of God's lack of love and power, but my selectively selfish theology. So yes, I encourage you to wrestle with God. But you must honest with yourself as well, that's only fair.

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DEO DAGU

August 13, 2013  2:47am

Great article mate, I am also in the mist of a very alarming trial that has me stumped about God's Love for His children. I have tried to live a righteous life even spreading the gospel to whom I can and right when Life gets good for me I take a huge hit to my health and families health. All my joy has been zapped and I try to find every explanation (demons,the wicked one etc...) to make since of it because I refuse to believe the Lord could allow me to go through this. Now I feel that there is no incentive for trying to live for Christ vs. one who believes but does not live accordingly. How can the Lord put us in a predicament so heavy where our salvation hangs on a thread? I want to believe this is a test and things will return to normal but my mind is now confused as Job's was. I went from happily spreading the gospel to incognito ashamed and disappointed, how can one help others when they themselves are discouraged. I do not want to backslide on the Lord, I simply need more answers

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Joseph Bonacci

August 10, 2013  9:05pm

We can all relate to how when we suffer we can feel God has abandoned us. A year ago today I was in the middle of a very difficult cancer treatment. Chemo,radiation, a month in the hospital and months of recovery. During my third hospital stay I was asking the why me questions and was disappointed in God. After all I was an elder in my church oversaw several ministries and did what I could for The Lord. Endless counseling sessions with many many people going through trials and tribulations and suffering but then it happens to you. All the scripture references about how God,s people are promised suffering in this world were forgotten by me for a period of time. But the Bible does just that. it promises trials and suffering but it also promises patience,perseverance,character, hope and love as a result. Empathy and the ability to comfort others will result. Christians need to suffer to grow and mature We redefine suffering. Discover your Christian identity at identityfulfilled.com

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Kathi Vande Guchte

August 10, 2013  4:33pm

I agree that many Christians do not know how to minister to other Christians grieving and hurting, and if they're not completely silent and avoiding, they're proclaming scripture passages taken out of context, and insituate that the hurting are being punished. Instead of being silent and listening and supporting they blurt out things like, "If you had had more faith the child wouldn't have died." It is no wonder the world wants nothing to do with Christians, there is such a lack of compassion and love to the hurting. Even if someone is hurting due to sin in their lives, other Christians pressure until the sin is acknowledged, and when it is and there's repentence, there are plenty of people to "remind" the former sinner. I think of the verse in the Bible about being a stumbling block...I believe all Christians are stumbling blocks to others when they are not constantly conscious of their own sin and need for God's rescue and forgiveness.

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James Cowles

August 10, 2013  11:32am

I greatly appreciate Gary Sampson's post. I went through a similar experience regarding vocational issues -- too long a story to tell in 1000 characters -- and came out the other side. But in the wake of that, I decided that, for the sake of my own mental health and to avoid turning my wife into a widow, my wife and I had to adopt a stance of "functional atheism" and to stay as far away from God as possible, Who became our "personal Chernobyl". In fact, "functional atheism" was the only attitude we could adopt with any significant degree of personal integrity. This is not to insinuate that our response is normative for everyone. It isn't. But it was normative for me and my wife. Sometimes there just are -- and can be -- no happy endings. BTW, there is an interpretation of Job that says Job's silence at the end was not because he realized he was wrong, but because he realized that God was not a rational or benevolent Partner, rather like an abusive Parent with whom one can't talk.

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Barry Nall

August 09, 2013  7:21pm

Thank you for sharing, Peter. This article helped me in my current point in life, and also made me realize that there are far greater challenges than the ones that have seemed so crippling to me. God bless you.

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K. Smith

August 09, 2013  2:50am

Wow. Fantastic article. I went through a situation at work that started with great promise, then went from bad to worse again and again. I felt like God had betrayed me, but I knew that couldn't be the truth. Anyway, thank you for the great wisdom in your article.

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robert Boe

August 08, 2013  10:45pm

hI Gary Sampson .. Jesus is the best of the best gifts the best blessing of all time and for all..Death has no lasting sting in Jesus One could win the power ball every day of their life and its nothing compared to what God has given all in Jesus.

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robert Boe

August 08, 2013  10:35pm

i have always thought God picks out certain christians for troublsome times .. So they can help those of us who need it when we go through our times of trouble.. God His tests have always been unfair EVEN AS WE LOOK AT THE STORY OF Job because God is the one that carries the person through the test and then God gives them a excellent perfect grade, because of Jesus who lived perfectly for all and then died for all. wisconsin synod Lutheran pastor Gregory Shultz wrote a book right after God took the one little child of his and was in the process of taking a second a little older child . He called his book the problem of suffering. pastor was saying in his book the only way one can cope with the death of ones little children after seeing them go through so much pain and so may operations . is to understand God went through such pain with the most innocent child of all his Life giving Jesus . .. Jesus Gods gift of Grace to all. Grace is given to heal the spiritually sick, not to decorate spiritual heroes. Martin Luther

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gARY sAMPSON

August 08, 2013  10:08pm

Peter, while I sympathize with your family' plight and pray for the best, your message is confusing. In the first half you come to realize that "following God ensures blessings in this life" isn't true and you begin to accept that were that not true He is still good. And THEN "goodness" happens again; a new baby comes, even assisting in your wife's condition. Great news, but the truth is there are millions of Christians who never have any earthly goodness visit their entire lives. They lose children, spouses, jobs but it doesn't change who God is nor His love. In the days of the nail and nights of the lash In the season of the quake and the lightning flash You become a slight impression on a threadbare shroud While you hide yourself away somewhere behind a thundercloud And I won’t pray Cause I’m inclined to thrive in misery When I’m kneeling in the garden of Gethsemane Crying Oh Oh Oh My God, my God, have you forsaken me Or is this grace disguised as adversity? often that's it

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Kermit Soileau

August 08, 2013  6:40pm

It is amazing that when we "pass through the waters" and "walk through the fire" that what we find in those dark moments is God Himself, walking with us through it all. There is definitely a feeling of being "hung out to dry" that pervades those dark valleys, but...once a Christian experiences the presence of God in that kind of awful situation...he/she gains a confidence in God's permanent presence that can never be shaken again. Good times teach us very little...hard times teach us Who really loves us & Who walks with us, regardless of the circumstances. GREAT story...CT needs more of these positive Christian testimonies!

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sarah farrar

August 08, 2013  5:27pm

Wonderful story. Thanks so much and God bless your dear family.

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DUANE Watts

August 08, 2013  3:49pm

Thank you Peter, for this article and for your transparency. I suppose your experience, regarding your doubt of God, is pretty common. I doubt there are a lot of people who know how to "grieve with those who grieve". My own grief is a low burning failure, decades long, that very few people could relate to (no-one I know), so while my mantra is "not my will, but thy will be done", I've truthfully given up hope of any redemption of my time and effort in this life. Nor do I "deserve" any. But IF I have labored without just recompense, my Lord, who is just, will pay me. Thank the Lord you have come through the fire enough for now to see the light and to be able to express your gratitude to Him. Crab Grass: I truly believe the Lord holds, cradles your heart in His hands. The pain seems unbearable at times and I would just rather not be here. That may be the way you feel too. He is perfect in Love and faithfulness. It is His faith, not yours that has won the day. Tears for you

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Crab Grass

August 08, 2013  11:40am

A very nice article, and I appreciate it, but I did want to comment on this part: "God was entirely faithful. Family and friends from around the world rallied around us in prayer and support. Meals were provided on a daily basis..." Sadly - many Christians I have come across are NOT supportive like this. At my time of greatest need and struggle (concerning death of someone close to me) the Christians I went to for comfort and encouragement ignored me, or some judged me or criticized me. And some of these are Christians who attend church weekly, and one used to work as a preacher. I got very little support or attention from self professing Christians at a time I was in need of a huge amount of love, attention, support. Most Christians I've known offer judgment or platitudes towards hurting people. I've seen other Christians on the internet say they have experienced that let down too, that when seeking out love and help from other Christians, they were brushed aside or criticized instead

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Kathi Vande Guchte

August 08, 2013  10:41am

Another wonderful article from Peter Chin. Thank you!

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Jay Lehman

July 11, 2013  10:19am

Thank you, Peter, for sharing your story and praise God for the miracles He has brought into your life. I too subscribed to the subconscious prosperity theology until I came across this quote from Francis Bacon and a subsequent study of adversity in the New Testament. "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New." - Francis Bacon 1512.

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