Archive | April 2014

Where Was God?

WHERE WAS GOD?

 

“Where was God when……”  How many times I have heard a client say that to me during a counseling session when they have been telling me of a painful, traumatic time in their past.  “Where was God?  Why did He let me go through this terrible time, this terrible experience, this senseless pain?  If He is really a God of love, then how can He allow so much suffering….How can He allow ME to suffer?”

 

These questions most often arise in sessions with clients who have been sexually abused.  One of the reasons I believe that childhood incest and other sexual abuse is so devastating and deep-seated lies in the fact that the experience seems to almost uniformly distort the victim’s view of God.  We know that abuse of any kind produces a profound sense of abandonment, separation, a sense of aloneness for the child that haunts her/him into adulthood.   Such events can permanently lower brain chemicals, such as Seretonin, and distort  perceptions,  feelings, thinking, and choices long after the event has passed.

When a child is abused by a primary caregiver/provider, the child’s perception is that s/he has been abused by God because it is from our parents, our primary caregivers, that we first learn the concept of one who is greater than ourselves, a higher authority.

 

The child, as s/he matures, does not seem to be able to separate their view of God from the view they have of their parents.  There does not need to be violent, physical abuse to produce this belief.  Neglect or verbal abuse; shaming, will serve the same purpose.

 

So where was God when this abuse and/or neglect was going on?  A single, unique event in history, the crucifixion of Jesus, provides a powerful insight to this question.

 

Scripture tells us in Isaiah 52 and 53 that Messiah, the Anointed One, would suffer a death that would free all who chose to accept His sacrificial act.  We often hear from God’s Word that “Jesus died for our sins.”  But there is more to that phrase than meets the eye.  What came to me one day in pondering the question, “Where was God?”, was the fact, supported by scripture, that Jesus took on our EXACT pain, suffering, turmoil, shame, aloneness, fear, guilt, illnesses, and beyond…. everything that was sin, or the product of sin, Jesus, at one point in time, one moment in history, took upon Himself and made His.  He did not take on some generic form of sin and pain that represented ours.  He took on, experienced, my/our, EXACT sin and pain.

 

So what has that to do with the answer to the question of God’s whereabouts?  It has everything to do with it!  If it is true that Jesus took upon Himself, ALL SIN AND ANY RESULT OF SIN, then the answer to the question of God’s whereabouts when I have gone through pain and suffering, or go through it in the future, is clear.  The one answer that makes any sense is that God Incarnate was experiencing our pain with us!  He was there!!  We have not been abandoned!  He is not without love and capricious.  He dealt with the situation in the one way that would eventually give us a way out of pain and suffering, a way out of sin!

God apparently decided a long time ago that what He wanted for the human race was the opportunity to have a CHOICE!  Otherwise we would be robots, incapable of choosing to have a relationship with Him out of our own free will–incapable of loving Him.  Knowing we would exercise our choice in such a way as to cause separation from Him (sin), He provided a way out, both in the here and now and eternally.  He would take away all of the things which estrange us from Him and dump them as you would so much garbage.  But to do so, He had to come as a real man and die a real death so you and I could be REAL!

 

Don’t we as parents, spouses, family members, and friends often try to take away painful feelings and circumstances those WE love are experiencing?  We try to, but we don’t have that power.  Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves or others: free us from the pain and suffering He knew was coming.  In that one moment on the cross, all of human history, past, present, and future, was focused on the Lord Jesus so that anything that would block us from Him could be destroyed and thrown away forever!  So that any loss we would suffer could, in some way and time, be paid back in full and even more!

 

Isaiah 53:4 & 5 shows us that Jesus, the Messiah, “…took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…”.  His death was so real that Isaiah 52 implies that taking on our sin and suffering so distorted His features that He was unrecognizable!  He took on OUR EXACT PAINS, GRIEFS, BURDENS, and ABUSE, AS WELL AS OUR SINS!

 

A friend of mine recently became ill and couldn’t care for her house.  Some of her friends went over and cleaned it from top to bottom.  They didn’t clean up dirt and trash that was similar to her’s or that looked like her’s.  They cleaned up her EXACT DIRT!  Jesus did the same thing in one moment in time for all of us.  He knows what you and I have and are experiencing because He has already experienced it!  He chose to do this for a couple of reasons:

 

  1. To prove how valuable we are to Him.
  2. To demonstrate, in the clearest possible terms, that He has provided a way for us to be healed, both now and forever: Spirit, Soul and Body.

 

He couldn’t prevent us or others from choosing sin or being affected by sin without violating our free will, but He found the one way out.  “…the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isa.53:5b NIV).

 

Where was God when you were being abused, violated, hurt, shamed, cheated, betrayed?  HE WAS THERE!  He also is there when you sin and cause pain to others!  And, He promises that He always will be!  (Heb.13:5)

 

 

Jerry Izor

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 23, 2014.

The Church @ En-gedi

 

The Church @ En-gedi

         En-gedi is an oasis located near the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea.  It is a source of “living water” : God’s Gracethat originates from an inexhaustible spring which has been steadily flowing for thousands of  years in the wilderness of Judea where little or nothing grows.  At the site of the spring, water flows out of the hillside fresh and clear providing growth of vegetation in the immediate area, as well as quenching thirst for any traveler.           Is there a church at En-gedi?  No, not physically… but spiritually.  En-gedi can serve as a model for all churches that profess Jesus as Savior and Lord and through whom the “living water” of the Holy Spirit freely flows.           To me, Friday Home Group is just such a church.  We are off the beaten path; one has to be searching or be drawn in order to find us, but the outpouring of God’s love and hope is clearly visible when in our midst.           My prayer is that we will be steadfast in allowing the little “Oasis” on Welsh Hills road to keep flowing and to guide other weary travelers to the “living water” God is providing.    Some may come to stay, others for only a time of refreshment and healing as they travel to another place and purpose prescribed by the Lord.           As we receive “life” from  Messiah, may we daily “live in Him and  then pass that “life” on to others as He directs.           Come all in need:  click this link and view video of the actual spring:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNGf6wGYJi4nd drink!

This entry was posted on April 9, 2014.

Seeds and Apples

 

Seeds and Apples

 

I recently heard a man say, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.”  That thought has been germinating, if you will, ever since, and it has grown some encouragement in my spirit from the Lord.

As Christians, we each are given the opportunity to share our faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord with those Messiah puts in our lives.  Like a golden apple, the Gospel represents the fruit of life; eternal life.  Each of us is given the apple to eat and be nourished eternally ourselves, but with seeds to be planted so that others may live as well.

My favorite scripture is John 15:1-11, in which Jesus talks about how we can produce an abundant amount of spiritual fruit if we abide in Him, the True Vine.  I’ve always wanted to be a producer of that fruit, to be the literal fulfillment of John 15:5, but now the Lord has shown me my focus all these years has been too narrow.  I’ve always pictured fruit as a single thing or action, something tangible that I could see and know I had accomplished.  But as I’ve looked at my life, I haven’t found much in the way of the fruit I’ve been expecting and hoping for.  I’ve missed the point that spiritual fruit is a result of abiding in Christ, being filled with and led by the Spirit daily allowing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to be evident in my life.

I was given my golden apple, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, on December 7th, 1977.  I can remember it had seeds in it, but I’m not sure how many.  I had hoped there were still some left to be planted, but now the Lord is telling me to remember that each seed represents an apple tree, not a single apple and that the fruit produced cannot be numbered this side of heaven.

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2014.