Finding Perspective in a World of Pain

Maturity brings perspective.

I have the distinct memory of a shopping trip to the Red Barn Market, a grocery store in the small town of Jonesburg, Mo.  I was with my mother; we had just finished gathering the necessities & were standing in the checkout line.  I remember the sound of the beep as the cashier slid each item, one by one, across the scanner.

That’s when my dream developed—my dream of being a checkout girl.

Now, as you may have guessed, as I matured I realized that my dream was really more of a nightmare. I have no burning desire to work as a checkout girl in Jonesburg, Mo. Yes, maturity brings perspective.

As we grow and change, so do our ideas and beliefs.  It is unrealistic to think that our childhood ideas should follow us into adulthood.  But…

This is precisely the problem that so many of us struggle with in today’s world—and it costs us dearly.

As children we are taught that God cares about our each and every need.  That He has the “whole world in His hands.” We are built with a fundamental understanding of how God works and who He is.

Our world is beautiful.

It is simple.

It is kind—and from that we draw conclusions about the God that created it.  We understand that He is beautiful, simple, & kind.

But as we grow our perspective changes.  We realize that this world we once found beautiful is sick. We see tsunami’s claiming the lives of thousands, wars driven by men hungry for money, & starving children in a world overflowing with food.  At this sight our vision of God is shattered, our understanding of His character altered, our faith shaken. Perhaps you have never struggled with this, but unfortunately that would place you in the minority. I have watched as friends have struggled and faltered. Many have walked away; some remain, but simply avoid the issue because they find no answers.

So, you ask, what is my point?

My point is this: the little view that we teach our children is flawed. We have misrepresented the very character of God.  We teach that He is in control of everything; that all that happens is from His hands.

I don’t know that I agree.

We raise children that believe their God is one who controls every aspect of their life. I believe this is problematic.

Is it true? Does God control every aspect of our lives? I don’t think so. Gasp.

Human beings are incredibly powerful, so powerful, in fact, that they are the only beings on this Earth that can limit God himself. We make choices, and those choices limit the power of God.

There was an accident not too long ago in the town where I used to live.  A group of young kids were riding in a car without wearing their seatbelts.  They were hit by a drunk driver, and the results were catastrophic.

Did God cause this? Did Satan?

The driver of the other car made the choice to drink that night. He made the choice to get into his car and drive.  Those kids made the choice to drive without wearing their seat belts.

God didn’t cause that to happen for punishment.

He didn’t cause that to happen to bring anyone to Christ.

He didn’t cause it at all.  We did.

The free will of human beings can limit the power of God.

Every time Christians take some awful event and give God credit for it, they’re tarnishing the very name of God, and I believe they are costing Heaven the souls of some.

The Bible says that God brings rain on the just and the unjust, that every good and perfect gift comes from the father of love. God is love. He does not cause accidents. He doesn’t give you cancer to bring you closer to Him. He didn’t cause sin and I don’t believe that He uses sin to bring about His purpose. We live in a sinful world; let us place the blame where it belongs—on us.

Of course, this is only my perspective. How do you find perspective in a world of pain?

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4 thoughts on “Finding Perspective in a World of Pain

  1. Funny – the Red Barn Market, was always the Market Basket to me. I know as I have grown older, that my memories are not very clear of my little Jonesburg town or of the people in it. It amazes me that we at some point lived in the same town as little girls. Now that being said, thank you for this post. I think on this subject a lot when talking to Olivia. I, as you said, tell her that we are in God’s hands. God is always protecting us. Yet, her grandmother had a stroke and died, she sees a little girl with no hair due to chemo, she knows we are struggling with this or that, she spoke to the fireman at her school and knows that fires are real and can really do damage. So…why?? God was and is to protect us. Knowing that she is only 5, I do try to explain that God lets us make choices. He loves us so much that he wants us to choose to love him. By him letting us choose love, we also get to choose our path of life. Do we want cereal in the morning or French toast? Cereal is faster – which gets us out the door quicker, which changes the events in our day than if we would have just sat and waited on the French toast to be made. Different cars on the road, different people walking, sun slightly a little higher or fog not quiet lifted – all because we chose the cereal. Is God capable to stopping the bad stuff from happening? Yes, but we choose our path. He can’t block it or in the end, then we didn’t get to choose to begin with.

    Loving your thoughts Jessica! Really makes my brain stop and think!

    • Kim–you know, as I was writing this I could NOT remember the exact name of that supermarket! I knew the ice cream shop was the Dairy Barn (used to go there a LOT), anywho, thanks for jogging my memory! I think you’re right about the name! I think the line between God as divine protector and the atrocities in the world is fine, and difficult for us to understand. I struggle with how to explain these very deep things to Layla. I just try to be honest and tell the truth, it’s hard, but I definitely think the little ones are better able to understand than I might have originally thought. Thanks for reading!

  2. I’m not sure how I could add to this, Jess. I agree that the things that happen in this world are not things God has done *to* us but, rather, are the result of the fact that we live in a fallen world. They are our problem, not His. And yet He made them His problem by sending His son to take them onto His own person and die in our place. It’s pretty amazing, really. Really well written!

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