Who is God? Your answer to that question will tell you how you suffer. Join AMBrewster as he helps Christian parents understand how their child’s theology will determine how they suffer.
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Recently I was talking to Hillary Morgan Ferrer from Mama Bear Apologetics and she said, “Your instagram is really top notch.”
I really appreciated her encouragement, and I’m sharing it with you because TeamTLP and I work super hard to curate exceptional parenting quotes, articles, and videos on social media. We do this because we believe that God is worth it, and there’s nothing we need to be good parents more than Him and His Word.
We challenge you to redeem your feed. What’s redeeming your feed? It’s when you follow and like and share Christ-honoring content on your social media platforms. You have the power to teach the algorithms what you want to see. You can unfollow destructive individuals who do nothing more than share Failure Philosophies.
Throw out the unhelpful and invite Christ-honoring content into your social media scrolling. That’s how you can redeem your feed.
So, follow and like and share TLP on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and continuing growing as biblical parent!
And don’t forget to take advantage of our free episode notes and transcripts at TakingBackTheFamily.com.
Okay, so last time we started a study in “Parenting Suffering Children,” but before we get back into that, I need to make an important observation.
TLP has many listeners who don’t have children. I’ve asked a number of them why they listen, and they’ve all said the same thing. Please allow me to paraphrase: “What you talk about is Bible. The illustrations may be parenting-related, but the content is true for all of us.”
I share this with you because I could have easily called this study, “Husbanding Suffering Wives” or “Wifing Suffering Husbands” or “God’s Will for Your Suffering.”
The Truth is applicable to all.
I hope — even if your child is a newborn — that you can grow because of this study, that you can know God better because of the suffering you’ve experienced, and that your growth will be a blessing to your family.
Last time we looked at the nature of suffering.
We saw that suffering is subjective. It’s broad and can refer to various experiences.
We also learned that suffering is inevitable and contagious.
But, lastly, we learned that Christians suffer differently. They shouldn’t suffer because of the consequences of their sin, they understand the purpose of suffering, and they don’t make their suffering about themselves.
And that set us up for discussing the “God of Suffering” today.
So, let’s dive in.
If Christians are the only ones who can genuinely suffer well, then it follows that the one thing that makes us different from every one else is the one thing that makes it possible for us to suffer well.
Simply put: God is the reason Christians can suffer well. And some have argued that it is the process of suffering that helps us to better understand God.
Charles Spurgeon once said that “Men will never become great in theology until they become great in suffering.” And I believe the inverse is also true. Those who are great in theology are great in suffering. My hope is that by the end of this study we will better understand what Spurgeon meant and that suffering will be a completely new experience for us and our homes.
Who is God? Who is He really?
Let’s forget about suffering for a moment and consider some key attributes of God.
In a very particular order:
1. God is Holy.
In Leviticus 11:44, God pronounces, “I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.”
Holiness refers to being set apart. So all that God is is set apart to a very specific purpose. He never transgresses His own character. Therefore, when we know His character, we know exactly what God will and will not do.
However, this doesn’t provide us any comfort if God is set apart to evil. So . . .
2. God is Good.
In Luke 18:19 Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone.” Therefore, since God is holy, he will never not be good. God is entirely set apart to goodness in such a way that no one else is. He cannot be bad. He cannot be evil.
Still, this would not comfort us if His goodness somehow alienated Him from us — if He simply rejected us because we’re not like Him.
And that’s where His next character trait comes into play.
3. God is Love.
I John 4:7-8 reads, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
God wants our absolute best. And — since He’s holy — He will never not want our absolute best.
But this won’t comfort us if God merely wants what’s best for us but is incapable of actually giving us what’s best.
Praise the Lord that . . .
4. God is Omnipotent.
Omnipotent means all-powerful.
Now, I don’t have the time to read it, it would take about 10 minutes to read the whole passage, but in Job 38-41 God shows Job how absolutely powerful He is.
Chapter 38 starts out with God challenging Job. God shows up in a whirlwind and says, “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? 3 “Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!”
Part way through God’s dialogue, Job cries out, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.”
But God continues, and by chapter 42, all Job can utter is, “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”
The Bible — from Creation through the Eternal Heaven, Earth, and Lake of Fire — is a testament to the fact that God can do whatever He Wants. We need never fear that He’s too impotent to accomplish our best!
Of course, this is not encouraging if God doesn’t know what’s best. So . . .
5. God is Omniscient.
Omniscient means that He knows everything.
Psalm 147:5 proclaims the Lord’s understanding as infinite.
In I John 3:20 we learn that God knows all things.
And Hebrews 4:13 says, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
The Scriptures are overflowing with the infinite knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God.
“Yeah, but what if He misses something?"
Consider . . .
6. God is Omnipresent.
Proverbs 15:3 teaches us that God sees all things, both good and evil.
In Psalm 139, David poetically portrays that there is nowhere you can go run in the whole of the created and uncreated realms where God is not present.
He won’t miss something. He won’t be caught off guard.
Now, all of this would be the most comforting Truth in the universe if only God were in control of the circumstances of my life.
7. God is Sovereign.
Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Daniel 4:35, “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’’”
Ephesians 1:11, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
God is completely separate from everything that is evil and unloving. He has all strength, and all knowledge, and sees all things. And He’s completely sovereign over the events of this life.
And — as we noticed before — He’s not capricious or foolish in His oversight.
8. God is Wise.
Romans 16:27, "To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.”
And because He loves us James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
But how does God gives us the wisdom we need to respond correctly to the suffering in our lives?
9. God’s Word is Truth.
In Psalm 119:160 David proclaims to God: “The sum of your word is truth.” And Jesus echos this in John 17:17 as He prays to His Father: “Your word is truth.”
And — of Himself — Jesus proclaims, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
And because of all of this . . . his holiness and goodness and love and omnipotence and omniscience and omnipresence and sovereignty and wisdom and Truth . . .
10. God is Trustworthy.
He is the best, He wants the best, He’s capable of knowing what the best is, He’s capable of accomplishing the best, He promises that He is actively accomplishing the best.
The God of the Christian is this God.
The God who is sovereign over suffering is this God.
Now, for some of you, that last sentence confuses you. Atheists and agnostics alike in chorus constantly proclaim that God can’t be good and He can’t exist because suffering exists in this world.
“A truly loving and all-powerful and sovereign and good God would never allow suffering.”
It’s a fair question — a question that hundreds of thousands of theologians and millions and millions of Christians have answered, and it’s a question we plan to answer next time.
But I will say this: the westernized world has lost a biblical theology of suffering because we haven’t experienced that much deep suffering in the first place, and then we’ve bought into the American dream that suffering is bad and shouldn’t happen to us. We view suffering as divine punishment or proof of God’s nonexistent.
I’m going to argue that the confusion does not live in the character of God and the experience of life; the confusion comes from the fact that we’re trying to squeeze God into our tiny little boxes.
Your kids are going to do this. They are going to question and doubt and eventually wander if they try to understand God in light of their experiences.
In order to parent our children through suffering, we need to start with a biblical understanding of Who God is. His character and glory need to fill our eyes. Only then can we hope to enter into a season of suffering with the right understanding of suffering and a knowledge of the response we’re to have to our suffering.
Now, please understand that questions and doubts and the struggling of a finite mind to comprehend the infinite are not wicked and terrible.
I’m so pleased that the apologetics movement is helping parents understand that we shouldn’t be afraid of questions. We should embrace the questions and doubts because we know that God has the answer!
In conclusion, to parent well in suffering, we need to precede it with good theology. Only then will the suffering deepen and prove our theology.
When we enter suffering with nothing more than empty secular platitudes and Failure Philosophies, suffering will challenge what little theology we have left.
As God’s Ambassadors to your home, I promise you that fulfilling Deuteronomy 6 will prepare your children to suffer well. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them . . . so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged . . . .The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers . . . bring [your children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
If you and your family know the God of suffering, you and your family can suffer well.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets. Help others redeem their feed by confronting them with biblical parenting truth as they scroll through the political posts and worldly anthems.
And if you need help for your time of suffering, please contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. This is going to include knowing the God of suffering and why He brings suffering into our lives.
To that end, join us next time as we look at “The Purpose of Suffering.”
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