“If it Pleases the Lord...”

Main Scripture Points of Reference:
James 4:15
Lamentations Chapter 3
Romans 5:3-4
Romans 8:18
1 Peter 4:1
1 Peter 5:10

As a born again Christian, there are many things that amaze me about God and there are many times God amazes me in the way He reveals things to Believers when they strive to walk close with Him, to know Him, and to serve Him to the utmost. He reveals facets of His nature to us continually, always in the right way and in the right time. For instance, in recent months He’s revealed His loving, patient, and merciful nature toward all mankind, as well as His wisdom and careful attention to detail! In each and every instance I’ve learned something about Him I also learn more about myself and human nature in general. Most always when I am confronted with truth about both God and mankind I am forced to release certain illusions (or even outright delusions!) about both. And it is ALWAYS such a relief and such a blessing once those truths get into my spirit.

Last week I was confronted with yet one more truth about our infinite God and in that truth three more truths about humanity and in particular, me.

1) Most of mankind have this delusion that if God exists and He is “good,” He should “take care” of us by seldom, if ever, allowing us to suffer. Atheists often use the argument that suffering is proof that God doesn’t exist. Many Christians, even though they believe in God, often believe that a relationship with Him (especially one in which Believers are doing their best to “play” by all God’s rules) means that they shouldn’t suffer or if they do, that it won’t be too bad or for too long. They treat God like a lucky rabbit’s foot they carry in their pocket. God is on their side and as a result they’ll be blessed (lucky). They’ll be financially comfortable, they and their loved ones will be healthy, jobs will be fun and stress free, relationships of all kinds will be mostly enjoyable. If this doesn’t happen they automatically assume it’s a Satanic attack or a form of punishment. If they just pray or repent or behave all will return to “normal.” Or if they “name it and claim it” they will have “breakthroughs” and “blessings.” This is just not so and in fact, this is not faith but is SUPERSTITION (and superstition is a sign of immaturity and shallowness of character). Certainly life has a fair share of suffering for everyone. Certainly this suffering can be a Satanic attack at times (Ephesians 6:11-12), and MOST certainly it can be discipline (Hebrews 12:4-7). However, whenever anyone endures suffering it is often a result of living in a fallen world where mankind lives in rebellion toward God their Creator. Suffering is the manifestation, the evidence, that God is not the center of each and every human being’s existence. (Genesis 3:17-18, Romans 8:22)

2) Many, if not most, human beings do not have a true understanding of faith. They often believe that faith is simply believing that God exists and that if they believe in Him that’s enough. Or if they live a “good” life they’re saved. Some if not most Christians believe that faith is simply “holding on” to their belief in God while they ride out the various storms they encounter. They don’t understand that faith is not just believing God exists and for Christians, that we have salvation and a relationship with Him through is Son, Jesus Christ and so we just gotta go with the flow hoping it will all work out. They don’t understand that faith is not just “getting by” when bad stuff happens. Nor do they understand that faith for the Believer isn’t just about “behaving” to avoid suffering or praying away problems. In fact, true faith doesn’t just “get by” or feel satisfied so long as they know reasons, or dates and times, or personal solutions or answers for life’s problems. (Romans 8:24-29) Faith is the ability to not only believe in Him and all He can (and WILL) do no matter the circumstances, but to joyfully continue to TRUST Him and PRAISE Him ALL THE TIME EVERYWHERE NO MATTER WHAT HAS HAPPENED OR IS CURRENTLY HAPPENING. Faith is just that, FAITH. (Romans Hebrews 11) Loving the Lord, trusting the Lord, remaining obedient and continually serving and praising the Lord, and remaining JOYFUL (calm, satisfied, at peace, positive, optimistic, etc.) in EVERY and ALL circumstances. (Romans 12:12) Like Stephen, who continued to trust God and pray to Him even as he was being stoned to death, we should be trusting and praying to God NO MATTER WHAT! (Acts 7:54-60)

3) Finally, each and every human being in at least one circumstance forgets or simply is ignorant of WHO God is and in doing so, forget or are simply ignorant of THEIR place in the Universe. God is the Creator of the entire universe and EVERYTHING in it. From the tiniest speck of dust to the largest planet in our solar system (Jupiter), and each and every living thing that exists. Not only did He create ALL things, He put a GRAND plan into action taking into account each and every atom, molecule, proton, neutron, etc., and their relationship to one another. He created, planned, and directs EVERYTHING for His purpose and pleasure. We as human beings are His along with everything He’s given us and all the time He’s ALLOTED to us. Who are we to EVER question Him? Who are we as mere creations to ask why? Ask what? Ask when? Ask where? Ask how? Finally, who are we as human beings to question or demand ANYTHING of or from Him? What right do we as human beings, whom God created and God could wipe out in a nanosecond, to be upset, angry, disappointed, disillusioned, or ANYTHING but grateful, humble, obedient, loving, and trusting toward Him? (Job 40:1-9, Job 42:1-6)

I was recently in deep contemplation about God and about my current life circumstances when I heard God say, “If it is MY will it must be yours. If it pleases ME it must please YOU.” In short, I heard the phrase over and over, “If it pleases the Lord...” (James 4:15)

Having written all of the above I want to make clear that God doesn’t want us to suffer. Quite the opposite! Nor does He demand we ALWAYS be happy NO MATTER WHAT (there’s difference between happiness and joy). Nor does He demand we accept EVERY situation no matter how dire without communicating our fears, concerns, sorrow, or outright despair. Nor does He not want us to request relief or solutions or a way out. In fact, we are commanded to pray and when doing so, lay out our requests to Him and that would logically include the relief of suffering.

He gave us His Son Jesus as our intercessor, He gave us His Holy Spirit as our guide, counselor, comforter, and His Word (the Bible), and the Body of Christ, so much more, so that we could find relief or at least comfort and encouragement during times of suffering. He loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer, fail, or even die. It just so happens those things occur because the world is fallen. However, He gave us the freedom to pray, study His scriptures, and turn to the Body of Christ for encouragement and other assistance. He also promises us Christian Believers eternal rewards so we can take our eyes off our current circumstances and remain focused on eternity. Finally and most importantly, He gave us grace. Grace, HIS grace, should satisfy us no matter what. That is why when we suffer and God allows it, it truly is for our own benefit. (Lamentations 3, Romans 5:3-4)

Suffering here and now reminds us why we don’t want to live forever in a world that is fallen and has not put God as its center. Suffering here and now gives us opportunities to show the depths of our love and faith in HIM and not in our flesh and not in the here and now. Suffering allows us to grow as God rescues us, comforts us, and reveals more about Himself to us. Suffering allows us to truly be a good witness to other lost souls and a source of inspiration to other Believers when our faith is not only sustained in hard times, but grows. Suffering develops and refines our character and makes us deeper individuals better able to understand other people and to help them once our suffering is relieved and suffering begins for them. It allows us to develop empathy and compassion for other people, all of whom God loves as much as He loves us. Suffering is the means in which we grow to understand that the world without God as our center of existence is not only not enough, it’s completely miserable. It helps us to keep our eye on the prize, the eternal hereafter, when we Believers in Christ will exist together forever in peace and harmony, praising our Majestic Creator. Each time we enter a bout of suffering we should be growing in character, deepening our faith, gaining deeper understanding of God’s vast love for us, and developing true empathy for our fellow man so that we are moved to share our knowledge of Christ and our resources with them (Isaiah 58:10). Without suffering, human beings cannot have any of those things to any great degree.

Who truly appreciates their health and how good it feels to be able to function at full capacity until they fall ill or become injured? Who truly appreciates their loved ones and their relationships with them until those relationships are threatened or tested somehow somehow? Who truly appreciates food, shelter, clothing, or money until they must struggle to get those things or simply must go without those things completely? Like toddlers learning to walk, who don’t appreciate gravity until they fall down, we don’t learn to appreciate what we have until we realize how easy it is to lose it and until we realize to Whom we owe all the credit, gratitude to for having all these things, and that is the Lord God Himself.

If it pleases the Lord...that should be our mantra. “I will be there tomorrow, if it pleases the Lord.” “I will get this job, if it pleases the Lord.” “I will do this or that, if it pleases the Lord.”

We must remember Who God is and who we are at all times. If we are still breathing and have the ability to think and we have a relationship with Him as Christians we must remain cognizant of the fact nothing we have is ours. Nothing we are able to do (abilities, talents) is of our own will or power. No amount of time, down to the millisecond, is ours to do with just what WE want and its certainly not to be taken for granted. If we breathe and think and know God we must remain grateful, loving, obedient, and joyful to Him. We must learn to just be content we have Him as our Abba, Father. Because in reality, that is ALL that matters. His love for us, our love to Him in return, and the eternity we will get to spend praising Him are MORE than enough in this life. Suffering is the means in which sincere Believers come to understand that to deeper and deeper degrees.

Even Jesus suffered during His human existence for our sakes (Hebrews 2:10). What is it for us to suffer, especially for His sake, in the blink of an eye that is our existence in the present? Especially when one considers what our Heavenly rewards will be? This too shall pass, one way or another. But God’s love for us and our relationship with Him as Believers in Christ endures forever and nothing compares or even comes close to that! (Psalm 136:1, Romans 8:38-39) Hallelujah and amen!