When the God of Heaven Sends You to Hell

Posted by on October 13, 2012

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh…” Jonah 1:1-2

There’s a dark truth people don’t tell you, when you sign up for a life of faith. You won’t find this truth plastered across t-shirts, or on big banners hanging over pulpits, or engraved in fancy gold script on the front of your new Bible.

The truth is this: the God of Heaven may hurt you. He may break your heart. He may send you to Hell.

When you make the commitment to serve Him, you promise to go where He sends. You promise to accept His will. You promise to do as He commands.

But when you first begin your Christian journey, you believe His commands will lead you to your Promise Land. Because that’s what Love looks like, right? Love does no harm. Love protects. Love is synonymous with blessing and joy and answered prayers.

Right?

One of the most quoted verses in the North American church, the verse you will find plastered across t-shirts, on big banners above pulpits, and engraved on shiny new Bibles, is found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Oh yes, we LOVE that verse.

What we miss, in our focus on that promise, is a gigantic, uncomfortable reality: there’s an entire Bible full of other verses and promises. And some (many) promise pain.

The story of Jonah is a profound example. Buried in the first two verses of this book, there’s a dark truth big enough to rock our beliefs about God to their core. The problem is, most people are in such a rush to condemn Jonah, to characterize him as a buffoon and a whiner, they speed right past the warning sign.

Any child who has ever experienced a Sunday School flannel board knows Jonah as the “prophet who ran from God”, the “disobedient prophet”, or “the guy who ended up as whale food”. And Jonah was all those things. But before his seaweed wrap, he was someone else.

To get the full picture, we need to look at the scene right before the curtain goes up in Jonah 1:1. What was Jonah doing? Was he cheating on his taxes, stealing candy from children, and beating puppies? No. In fact, quite the opposite: He was faithful. He was holy. He was chosen. He was exceptional.

Jonah was a prophet of Israel. He held one of the highest offices in the nation; a role that was often more powerful than the king or the priests of the land.

His every word was tested and weighed by the people he served. And, He spoke on behalf of a God who did not tolerate falsehood, impurity, or greed in His ambassadors.

Jonah’s career was what you might call “high risk”. If you misspoke or misstepped as a prophet, you didn’t get a slap on the hand or a timeout in a corner; you got a quick death and a small grave, courtesy of the people you served –or God Himself.

But there was no grave for Jonah, because he was doing the job right. He filled this role for years. He anointed a King. He probably acted as a military advisor for the country in battle, and served as a social and spiritual guide for the entire nation.

Imagine a bearded, Jewish version of Billy Graham, dressed in sandals and an embroidered Yarmulka. A spiritual giant who is also a five-star general and a life coach. This guy takes faith and obedience seriously. He keeps his hands and heart clean. He’s seasoned, committed, and mature.

And then one day, the God of heaven, the One Jonah has served and trusted all his life, throws open the door of his world, and says those fateful words: “Hello Jonah, faithful servant. Go to Hell.”

Over dramatic? I don’t think so. That’s the problem with breezing past these first two verses in Jonah’s story. We miss the implications, the sheer devastation in the statement, “Go to Nineveh.”

The first word out of God’s mouth was, “Go”.

For some of us, hearing a “Go” from God is something we’ve longed for. “Go get your adopted child.” “Go start that job.” “Go take that vacation.”

But on this day, for this man, “Go” meant something else. “Go” meant: “Today you lose everything you love. Give up your family, your position, your church, your friends, your animals, your belongings, and your house of white-washed stone. Give up all that is familiar—your culture, your language, and your community. Surrender your routine, your stability, and your favorite papyrus-jersey sheets. Go, knowing you will use up your energy and resources on the way. Go with no assurance you’ll ever return.”

That command alone would be sufficient to break most of us.

But God wasn’t done. As Jonah sat there in silence, God announced the destination. “Go, Jonah. Go to Nineveh.”

If the first command was tough to comprehend, the second was far, far worse. To lose everything was one thing. To be sent to Hell? Entirely another.

And for Jonah, Nineveh was Hell. It represented the greatest evil and torment he could imagine.

In Jonah’s day, the Assyrian capital of Nineveh was massive, powerful, and universally known for its terror and brutality. This was a city where they filleted the bodies of their Hebrew captives—while the captives were still alive—and hung their skin on the walls as trophies. This was a city whose rulers and commanders were killers and sexual deviants. This was a city where dark magic, animal sacrifice, and spells of witchcraft took place in every street and alleyway.

The Assyrians also had a thing for attacking their neighbors, and they had caused more damage to Jonah’s people than any other. They laid siege to Jerusalem and razed many other villages to the ground. They rounded up their children as slaves, raped their women, and disemboweled their men.

These were not people who arranged guest suites with fruit baskets for itinerant preachers come to prophesy their doom. So Jonah knew that besides being sent to Hell, he was also being sent to his death.

And yet, we’re so smug when we talk about how rebellious and disobedient he was. “That Jonah,” we say, shaking our heads. “What an idiot he was to disobey. To think he could run.”

I suggest that if we received the commands Jonah did, our smugness would shrivel faster than a lone gourd in an Assyrian desert. Our faith might shrivel that fast, too. Why? Because we’ve all got our own version of evil and torment; we’ve all got that one nightmare that wakes us up in a cold sweat, with dread drenching our hairline.

Only one thing could fill us with greater horror than that nightmare: If the God of love and grace, the God we’ve been so sure is good, sends us there. Because He’s the rescuer. The Savior. The Father of love. He’s supposed to save us from Hell, not send us there. Jeremiah 29:11 says so. Right?

This year, my husband was torn away by an unexpected, long-term military deployment, I said farewell to my friends, my animals, my church, my home, my belongings, my ministry, and the business I ran for a decade. My credit card was hacked, I lost a year of irreplaceable computer files during a computer corruption, was horribly wounded by someone I trusted, was struck with blindness in one eye, was diagnosed with an incurable disease, and with that diagnosis saw my greatest dream for the future fade. My insurance refused to cover my medical treatment when I needed it most, I experienced several severe financial blows… the list of losses goes on, and on, and on.

This year, everything I loved and treasured was ripped away. This year God sent me to Hell. Had I known what was coming, I might very well have made a run for Tarshish, too.

Many Bible teachers say Jonah’s primary reason for running away from God was that his patriotism and zeal for justice exceeded his faith and zeal for mercy. While I’m sure that’s true, I suspect Jonah fled to the ends of the earth for another reason. I suspect he ran to escape the face of a God he no longer recognized.

I mean, what do you do when you’re a Prophet, and the God you’re supposed to represent goes completely postal and schizophrenic? Because surely that is how God appeared to Jonah after He issued His command.

For centuries, God specifically commanded the Israelites to avoid any association with brutal, idol-worshipping, baby-sacrificing cultures. These Assyrians and their king had bullied, mocked, and terrorized the Israelites for years. God Himself killed 185,000 of these Assyrians in one day, when they attacked the Israelites. But now, suddenly, He’s worried about 120,000 of them (and their cows) in the capital city? Worried enough about them to send Jonah there and destroy Jonah’s whole life in the process?

Madness! Jonah must have believed that either he was losing his mind, or his God was. Either way, there was only one option that made sense: Run.

What a dark day of disillusionment that must have been, for this man of faith. I doubt he wore his Jeremiah 29:11 t-shirt when he boarded that ship for the ends of the earth.

I think many of us have had a Tarshish season. A time when God appears more monster than messiah.

I am living that season right now. The heartache and loss God has allowed in our life in the past year devastates and enrages me. I struggle to see how this level of Hell can possibly coexist with any form of Divine Love.

What I’ve found equally challenging is the response of people around me as they observe our suffering.

In many cultures around the world, suffering is such a consistent part of life and faith, it doesn’t require an explanation. Suffering just is. But in our culture, where we’ve been taught that health, success, and prosperity are directly connected to God’s blessing and approval, suffering is not as common, and therefore must be categorized, labeled, and explained.

Three labels have been constant in people’s comments to me: Sin, Stupidity, or Schooling.

A large number have suggested that our heartbreak is a direct result of our sins. That we did wrong, offended God, and are being punished. Because only bad people suffer. Good people get Rolexes and river cruises.

A second group believes that our heartbreak is a direct result of our stupidity. If we had been smarter, if we had responded in a more thoughtful, strategic way to our losses, God would not have allowed them to continue. Because only dumb people suffer. God blesses smart people.

The third group contends that our heartbreak is a direct result of God’s schooling in our lives. “Wow, God must be preparing you for something big, to put you through all this.” “God must really trust you to send all these trials your way.” Because only those He trusts suffer. Those He doesn’t trust get to be happy and healthy.

Beyond the gaping theological holes in these simplistic explanations, the thing these well-meaning people forget is that when you are suffering, you don’t need categories and labels and explanations. You need courage. And pronouncements like these do not produce that. At all.

I suggest that if there must be a label and an explanation for our suffering, it is a fourth, which is closer to the explanation for Jonah’s experience.

In Jonah’s life, the storm and the swim and the seaweed were all consequences of his refusal to do as God commanded. But the death sentence He received from God before that? That was because Jonah was doing things right.

What kind of leader sends the person who is doing right into Hell? I can think of only one.

When we first become Christians, we focus on God as the God of Love. And He is. He is. But just as Jeremiah 29:11 is not the only promise in the Bible, so God is not just a God of Love. He bears many titles, not all of them as comforting. For instance, God is also known as our Captain and Commander.

The great Italian commander, Giuseppe Garibaldi, once made this speech during a recruitment drive:

“I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely with his lips, follow me.”

Jesus may not have said it with the same Italian flair, but He conveyed the same reality when He said, “If any man wishes to be my follower, let him deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me.” The problem is, we’ve so insulated our faith with scripture t-shirts, and big banners, and shiny new bibles, we forget the seriousness of what we signed up for in the first place.

God is a God of great compassion, but He is also a great commander. He sees the whole picture, and will send His followers wherever necessary in order to accomplish His great end goal.

I suspect the hard part, for Jonah, was the moment he realized fulfilling his role in God’s great end goal would allow the Ninevites to escape judgment, while costing him everything. And if tradition and legend can be believed, it did cost Jonah everything. A tomb, in the ruins of Nineveh, is believed to hold his body.

The ending of the book of Jonah is sad. Plain and simple. Jonah’s sitting outside the city, in the desert, and he is angry. Angry and praying for death, because God doesn’t make sense. God has granted mercy to a city of tormentors, and taken away all Jonah cared about in the process. Jonah who served Him faithfully all his life. Jonah who tried so hard to be holy. Jonah who always remembered to tithe, who always went to church, who always washed his hands before eating.

Jonah’s story is a vivid reminder that God’s ways will feel horribly unfair at times. But this is especially true if we focus on all the happy Bible verses about blessing, and ignore the others. The ones that suggest a great cost of self-sacrifice comes with our faith. The ones that suggest that God can (and will) do whatever He chooses with our life when we give it to Him. The ones that suggest that God has a very different perspective from ours about what success and glory look like.

What has kept me from losing my mind, in this season of anguish and struggle, is not to question or even think about His goodness. At times like this, the goodness of God feels about as far away as Tarshish, and thinking about it only makes us crazy.

The truth is, He may or may not restore and repair all the loss and injustice of this season. He may or may not heal this incurable disease. He may or may not allow the military to continue to send my husband into harm’s way and separate us for yet another year.

But I don’t follow God because of what He can do for me. I don’t serve Him because He’s some kind of Divine David Tutera, who whips out fairytales, miracles, and perfect parking spots while smiling and calling me his Bride. I follow Him because He is God and there is no other. He is my Commander. And that means He has the right to break my heart and send me to Hell if it will accomplish His overall purpose.

There are two possible outcomes, I think, to being sent to Hell. Hell can leave us in ruins, or we can leave it in ruins.

In Jonah’s case, the trip to Nineveh ruined him. It broke his heart, fricasseed his faith, and destroyed His relationship with God. How well I understand that. How many nights I have lain in bed this year, bouncing prayers off the ceiling and feeling ruined beyond repair.

Jonah didn’t have the benefit of reading his whole story up front. He only saw the immediate horror and loss before him. And when we’re in our Tarshish season, that’s true for us as well.

But based on his story and all that happened to Nineveh during and afterward, I believe that if/when God sends us to Hell, He doesn’t intend for us to die there. He intends for us to plow into it, leave it changed, and get the Hell out of there (ahem:P).

And so, in this Tarshish season, I remind myself that I don’t see the whole picture yet. And I keep walking, keep following my Commander, and keep remembering the words of another great general:

“If you are going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

 

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    38 Responses to When the God of Heaven Sends You to Hell

    1. Marlo Schalesky

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kelli, and offering hope to others walking through the darkness and loss. Two “tangent” thoughts that occurred to me: God may send us to Hell, but Jesus has been there first (“he descended into hell”). We don’t go alone (“…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…you are with me”), and He has already been there ahead of us. Second thought is about that Jeremiah 29:11 verse — we forget that was from a letter sent to people who were in exile, ripped from their promised land. It was sent to people who were suffering the loss of absolutely EVERYTHING and they weren’t getting out of it any time soon (not for 70 years!), not people who were sitting fat and happy in their promised land, or even to people who were going to be rescued in few months or years! I think that gives me a different, and more accurate, view of what that popular verse is really all about. Anyway, those are a couple things that crossed my mind. LOVE your thoughts on Jonah’s story – great insights!

      • Kelli Standish

        Marlo Schalesky » It was fabulous to sit with you by the ocean and talk over some of the concepts behind this post last week. And thank you for sharing your follow up thoughts. I especially love the point that “God may send us to Hell, but Jesus has been there first.” So fantastic. Wishing us both the courage to go through Hell and keep going :)

    2. Ann Shorey

      Powerful reminder, Kelli. My heart thanks you for your openness, and particularly for the reminder that there are lots of promises in the Bible–not all of them flowers and sunshine.
      I love you, my dear friend.

      • Kelli Standish

        Ann Shorey » Openness can be challenging when we’re raw, because we risk more wounds. But I believe that when we’re honest, we give other people permission to be honest, too. In a world of false fronts and permagrins, we desperately need that permission. Your honesty and faith are two of the things I love most about you. Thanks for being real, and a blessing in my life!

    3. Georgia

      Oh Kelli, I’m so sorry for your trials. Thank you for this beautiful insight and wisdom. Great quote to end it with too. What an encouragement to so many people to know it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong when life is… awful and hard. Thank you.

      • Kelli Standish

        Georgia » Thank you for stopping by! I love that we can all gather here and encourage each other, and refute some of the weird, creepy religious sayings that have broken our hearts during difficult times. As Katie Ganshert said so well in the comments below: “Jesus suffered the greatest-–more than any of us can comprehend–-and obviously that dude didn’t sin.” The fact is, life can be super awful and hard, and sometimes it has nothing to do with our sin and everything to do with living in a fallen world and/or God’s long-range plan.

    4. Mary Tatem

      Thank you, thank you for the deep and courageous insights you shared–the perfect answer to life in an imperfect world. As strange as it sounds your words are a soothing balm to the hurting soul. I love you and am so sorry for your suffering, but so grateful that you use the authority invested by your suffering to shed light on the flaws in mankind’s reasoning. Total surrender isn’t total if we only accept certain answers. God bless you with the fulfillment of His purposes.

      • Kelli Standish

        Mary Tatem » One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 32:2

        “And you will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.”

        If suffering can give us wisdom to be a great rock in the desert for others, then it is not wasted. It is worth the cost. Thank you for your love and constant prayers. What a gift you are to me and to everyone who knows you.

    5. Rel Mollet

      Dearest Kel ~ just like many of our conversations over the years, your insight, honesty and heart are both gut wrenching and healing, especially as I think of the suffering you have endured and continue to wrestle with daily. I grieve your losses and admire your courage and determination, even more when you feel you have none yet you hold on – you have the toughest fingertips I know! My love and prayers are always flying across the Pacific to you, precious girl.

      xo xo xo

      • Kelli Standish

        Rel Mollet » I could not have survived this year without your friendship. Day after day, dark night after dark night, you have walked with me, grieved with me, prayed with me, and lifted me up. You have been a place of refuge for my soul, and your faithful, passionate support has kept me from losing my mind. I may have tough fingertips, but so many times it was you who helped me keep my grip. In this season of horrible loss, I am still rich because you are in my life. ((HUGS))

    6. Cynthia Herron

      Kelli, sometimes in our human frailty, there are simply no words. I find that now is one of those times. Our family walked in the season of suffering for so long, and well-meaning platitudes grew old. The best things we can say to people are: “I’m so sorry you’re suffering.” And mean it. “I’m covering you in prayer.” And pray. “How can I help?” And then ask for specifics and assist.

      So, dear Kelli, I’m saying those things to you just now. I’m weeping with a burdened and broken heart for you. And keeping a constant prayer on my tongue for God to bring about victory.

      • Kelli Standish

        Cynthia Herron » At this point, I’m not even asking for victory. I’d be fine with just a short break in defeat and no new waves of loss :) Thank you for being such a faithful prayer support and encourager through this time, and for sharing this post with friends. I appreciate you.

    7. Michelle Ule

      I have no idea about the why of your loses, and each new bit of news slaps with a wide-eyed stun. You hardly know what to think, save one thing:the desire to touch your arm with compassion, or to hug, and simply say, “I’m sorry.”

      • Kelli Standish

        Michelle Ule » Thank you, Michelle. I am blessed by your compassion, and appreciate your heart.

    8. Sarah Forgrave

      Kelli, Your courage is an inspiration and your honesty refreshing. So thankful to have met you last week.

      • Kelli Standish

        Sarah Forgrave » It was great meeting you, too! Wishing you a courageous, soul-rich week.

    9. Suzy Parish

      Hi Kelli!
      First, I LOVED your post. I have a long list of trials myself and what I have found in addition to the attitudes you listed of fellow believers is a common fear. I have studied this for many years and believe that the pat answers we get from others stem from their fears. Fears that if they are not able to easily categorize our suffering that they may be in danger of befalling the same fate. Thus the “You need to pray more, you need to hear from God more.” These fellows are so similar to Job’s comforters.I can’t be angry at them though, and I don’t see that you are either. It just stems from a lack of experience in the crucible themselves.
      “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” Colossians 1:24 This verse always sticks in my mind when I am suffering.I will be praying for you. Love in Christ, Suzy

      • Kelli Standish

        Suzy Parish » Your insights here are profound, and so true. One of the things that really helps me not get bitter, when people say thoughtless things, is to pray that God firmly brands their response onto the What Not To Do list in my heart. (See: What Not to Do and What Not to Do Part 2 ) That way, I never use that same canned, unproductive response on someone else!

    10. Olivia Newport

      What a great look at hard questions. And helpful to me in my own challenges. Just this morning I underlined this passage in Looking Up When Life Gets You Down by Warren Wiersbe. He was talking about the unhelpful explanations of Job’s hell. “When you and I hurt deeply, what we really need is not an explanation from God but a revelation of God. We need to see how great God is: we need to recover our lost perspective on life. Things get out of proportion when we are suffering, and it takes a vision of something bigger than ourselves to get life’s dimensions adjusted again.” Wiersbe reminds us that Job is not really about suffering, but about the fact that “God is big enough to help us when life tumbles in.

      • Kelli Standish

        Olivia Newport » Thank you so much for sharing this Wiersbe quote! It’s fantastic. I’m going to go find that book on Amazon and add it to my reading list. Meanwhile, know that I am CHEERING for you through the challenges. One step at a time, one day at a time, one minute at a time. You can do it.

    11. Charise

      I’m in a season too. Different details but so so painful and confusing. This is not what I signed up for! I was thinking today it was like the Christmas gifts I gave my cousin and my Uncle. My cousin who I don’t know so well, feel suspect of and just don’t like– never thanked me. And it bugged me for WEEKS. My uncle who I know to be generous, introverted and always a good guy even if difficult did not thank me either. Didn’t bother me so much. So, I’m trying to decide I KNOW God and if I’m in a difficult spot I don’t like, I have to trust the character of God I love (like my Uncle). I’ll pray for both of us to serve well.

      • Kelli Standish

        Charise » Trust is hard. And silence is harder. And trusting when the Heavens are silent is hardest of all. My heart goes out to you for the pain and confusion you’re going through. My prayer for you and your season is the same as I pray for my own: May God give you full hands through your suffering. May your losses make you rich in spirit. And may every trial make you a stronger and wiser advocate for those He will send your way who are hurting. Press on, woman.

    12. Carole Towriss

      Kelli, Thank you for your transparency. I know what platitudes feel like and how little good they do, and I know that often there is no “why.” I offer my prayers and love to you.

      • Kelli Standish

        Carole Towriss » One of the greatest gifts any of us can give each other is to say, “I understand”, and that actually be true. “I understand” comes at a high price–we pay for it in pain and loss and our own dark nights of the soul. I know you’ve paid that price.

        Poet Kahlil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” I say the scarred ones are the safe ones. Thanks for being one of them :)

    13. Liz Johnson

      Kelli, I have no words. I think you’ve said it all–and said it so well. We choose to trust God not because he gives us easy lives, but because the reward of seeking and following him is God himself. I love how Isaiah says that he was “undone” because he had “seen the King.” For Job the same thing. What undid him was not the trials but that the God of the universe revealed himself to him. I pray that God reveals himself to you, too, and that you will have courage to face these hard times.

      • Kelli Standish

        Liz Johnson » A number of people have asked me, during this time, how they could be praying for me. For the first fifty times or so, I just stared back bleakly, shook my head, and said “I have NO idea” :P More recently, I’ve been asking people to pray that my faith wouldn’t fail. But I think your suggestion is ten times better. I’m adding that to the top of my prayer request list. Thanks for stopping by!

    14. Michael K. Reynolds

      During times like these it’s hard to decide whether we would prefer to be curled up in the belly of the whale or be spat up on the shoreline. Sometimes all strength is required just to have the faith that God will provide an answer. But, I’ve found that He always does. Praying for you Kelli. Your ministry reaches farther than you know.

      • Kelli Standish

        Michael K. Reynolds » I love this: “Sometimes all strength is required just to have the faith that God will provide an answer.”

        You are so right. Sometimes the night is so dark, there is no strength left to find Him. In times like that, I believe faith is the willingness to be found by Him.

        Thanks for stopping by, and for sharing.

    15. Wendy Paine Miller

      Crying now.

      Love the honesty here. Love YOUR honesty. Going back for another read.
      ~ Wendy

      • Kelli Standish

        Wendy Paine Miller » My instant-friend-just-add-Bookie-Retreat, thanks for stopping by:) I’m praying for both of us, that our faith will not fail, and that we will become more stalwart, more wise, and more courageous for others through our meatgrinder seasons. Press on!!

    16. Hillari Delgado

      Thank you for sharing yourself so openly. I sat beside you recently, saw your calm demeanor and smile and never knew what trials you are undergoing with such grace. I will be holding you up in my prayers.

      • Kelli Standish

        Hillari Delgado » I’ve always loved the extended version of the quote we often hear, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

        The full text from that author (Scotsman Rev. John Watson) says, “The man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us, we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle.”

        I am thankful for your kind smile at that table, even though you didn’t know what I was facing in life. You were already living John Watson’s exhortation:)

    17. Suzanne Tietjen

      Kelli, this is not pretty, but your words and your faith are beautiful. I will keep praying.

      • Kelli Standish

        Suzanne Tietjen » Thanks for your prayers! I appreciate them very much.

    18. Katie Ganshert

      Love this, Kelli.

      All I can really say is a resounding Amen.

      So often, we pray for deliverance and yet His deliverance is very rarely what we think it ought to look like. A baby in a manger? A bloodied, beaten carpenter hanging on a tree? The thing of it is, we don’t see the whole picture. We see the middle of the story – when everything is chaos and crumbling. We don’t see the end. Which is really kind of ironic for us writers out there.

      Whether in this life or in the next to come, there WILL be victory. That is a promise in the bible we can cling to.

      And the whole suffering-because-of-sin thing? I will never understand that. Jesus suffered the greatest–more than any of us can comprehend–and obviously that dude didn’t sin.

      You are one hell (:-P) of a soldier. Prayers for you on the front lines of battle, Kelli. Prayers.

      • Kelli Standish

        Katie Ganshert » I’ve always loved the words to the song “Show the Way” by Kim Hill, and I think they echo what you’ve shared:

        If someone wrote a play just to glorify what’s stronger than hate,
        Would they not arrange the stage, to look as if the hero came too late?
        He’s almost in defeat, it’s looking like the Evil side will win,
        So on the edge of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins,

        But it is Love who makes the mortar, and it’s Love who stacked these stones
        And it’s Love who made the stage here, though it looks like we’re alone
        In this scene set in shadows, like the night is here to stay
        There is evil cast around us but it’s love that wrote the play.

        Wishing us both end of story clarity– in the middle :)

    19. Chad Cohoon

      Thanks for posting and taking the time to so sort these deep waters in the midst of your deep waters.

      Having had some deep one’s myself, I’m still as guilty of being in one of those 3 categories concerning my advice… usually the third because I do think it is truth and that the Lord tests those He loves for His purposes and future plans at times.

      I love your insight that this is not always the case and there does not have to be an answer to the “why” for it to be a Holy and pleasing thing to God. God made this plainly clear with Job and His response to Job’s reasonable question. I’ve always read that section of Job with Isaiah 1:18 in mind thinking.. well this is why I’m somewhat skittish of reasoning with you Lord:)

      Courage to you Sister in this season, I so wish I lived closer, I could do SOMETHING I’m sure, but we are broke and in a similar season just in different ways and along different paths.

      I remember the Lord telling me once that I had given Him all my rights to not suffering and that it was good… hard words to embrace.

      The Lord has since comforted me with lives like Joseph that look utterly ridiculous without the end chapter … even more ridiculous than my own. You know my story better than most Kelli and you and Dennis were there when the Lord brought me out of my Nebuchadnezzar experience.

      Loving you and Dennis from afar and of course praying for courage, and that you would be surrounded with the warmth of His people… well those whose love hasn’t waxed cold anyway:)

      I shared this on my FB page, hope you don’t mind, I felt it was superbly written and a needed message for many of my “friends” to read who just don’t get it (not that I’ve got it all figured out in any way!)

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