In His Steps Ministries

In His Steps Ministries

Do you have questions about suffering?
Are you going through a rough time right now?
Are you experiencing depression?
Then you will find this section helpful to you.

In His Steps Ministries
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ChristianSuffering

Suffering
Trying to understand and deal with suffering
Jesus was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.

Suffering and depression

In light of the World Trade Center, Pennsylvania and Pentagon tragedy, the Tsunami, horrendous earthquakes, and the recent hurricanes, here is information on the subject of suffering. (Sounds like the end times)

Hope for the Hopeless and Depressed

| Where Was God in All This? | Why Would God Allow This? | Suffering |
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Links to messages/sermons on suffering |
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Prophetic Statement on the 911 tragedy|
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Terrorism and the God of Christianity |


Suffering and Depression is sometimes linked together.
Be sure and check out our Depression Section.

 

The Book of Habakkuk from the Old Testament might be of help to you to understand about suffering. If you don't have a Bible, then just type in the word Habakkuk below and you can read it online.
Habakkuk 3:17-18
Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, {Though} the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God  of my salvation.


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Are you a Spiritual Seeker? Do you have questions about Christianity or other religions. Check out our Spiritual Seekers Section.

Where was God in all of this?
From someone in NY State:

As I, like most other Americans and people World-Wide, was watching and listening to the horror that took place on the East Coast, I heard many people ask the question posed in the subject line. I was reminded of an interview with a Holocaust survivor that was asked the same question.

Her response inspired the following words.

Where was God in all of this?

God was in the rescue workers who were running into the buildings as most people were running out.

God was in the flight attendant who called her husband as her plane was being hijacked to tell him that she loved him.

God was in the two men who carried a wheelchair bound woman down 70 flights of stairs to safety.

God was in the people who stood bleeding, in line to give blood.

God was in the strangers in cars, picking up strangers stranded in the city and taking them home to their families.

God is in the people who are begging to volunteer, to do anything to help.

God is in the thousands, if not millions who are flooding blood banks thousands of miles away to help people they have never met.

God is in the people who are comforting someone even when they don't know what to say.

God is in the people who watched and cried for people who may remain anonymous in name, but never in their sacrifice.

God is in my neighborhood where I see flags waving from every home.

God is in the men and women, looking at 110 stories of rubble, and seeing only the opportunity to find survivors.

God is with the heroes, most of whom will never be on the news, whose stories will only be told to their closest friends and family; but who saved someone's mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, husband, wife, grandmother, grandfather, aunt,  uncle, cousin, lover, colleague, acquaintance, teacher, mentor or friend with a single act of kindness, compassion and bravery.

God is indeed here......   Author unknown.....

And God is grieving with the mothers and fathers, family members and friends who have lost loved ones.... after all, He knows what it's like to let his only beloved son die a horrible death that He did not deserve, to give life to people who would have died if He hadn't.    

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Why Would God Allow This?

With such a terrible tragedy as the World Trade Center Terrorism, there is always the question of "why would a loving God allow this to happen?".  Listed below is what many of us as Christians feel God's answer would be.

Where Was God?


I know you're mad at Me right now. That's all right. People have been mad at Me before and will be again. Being mad is part of being human. My Son got mad, too. It's all right to be mad sometimes at injustice, for example, or the lack of charity."

"You probably think I am unjust and uncharitable when an airplane goes down like that. All those people lost. The children gone. It doesn't seem right; it can't be loving. You ask, 'Where was God? Why did He allow that to happen?'"

"I allow it to happen because I allow you freedom. I could have left you on a string and made you dance all day without getting tired. I could have moved your mouth for you and made you sing all night without growing hoarse. I could have pulled a wire that would have let you soar skyward and never fall."

"I could have, but I didn't, because I love you so much. I want you to be free to decide when to dance and sing. Free to determine when you will come to Me in faith and hope. Because you are free, some of you choose not to dance or sing. Some of you select hatred over love, revenge over forgiveness, bombs over a helping hand. As you choose, I watch. I do not disappear. I listen to both the songs and the bombs. AND I REMEMBER."

"Where was God?" you wonder... I was there. I whispered in the ear of a little girl, 'Don't be afraid, I am with you.' I held the hand of a business woman as tightly as she clutched mine. I cradled a pilot against my shoulder as if he were a baby again."

"Amid the paralyzing fear, I was there, as I was there with my Son in the garden. Amid the unbearable pain, I was there, as I was with Him as He was whipped. Amid the terrible realization that life was ending too soon, I was there, with Him as He hung on the cross and asked, like you, "My God, why have you forsaken Me?"

"I had not forsaken Him. I did not forsake them. I was there as they fell, and as they rose to eternal joy. I listened to their anger, answered their questions, and showed them why they had been created. Not to end that way, but to live with Me forever."

"In an instant, they came into existence. As you did. In an instant, they left this world. As you will. But beyond that last instant, I kept my promise... A little girl dances, a business woman sings, and a pilot keeps his wings forever.


Suffering

Lee Strobel the author of "The Case for Faith" discusses suffering in his book. Listed below is excerpts from a chapter on suffering.

Since Evil and Suffering exist, a loving God cannot
If God is all powerful, he can do anything. If God is all good, he wants only good. If God is all wise, he knows what is good. So if all these are true - and Christians believe they are - then it would seem that the consequence is that no evil can exist.

  • But evil does exist !

God is all powerful

  • God chose to create people with free will
  • God did not create evil - he created the possibility of evil
  • The source of evil is not God's power but mankind's freedom
  • Even an all powerful God could not create a world where people had genuine freedom and yet there was no potentiality for sin.
  • You can't have a world where there's real choice while at the same time no possibility of choosing evil
  • But - if God didn't create human freedom - - -there would be no humans !
  • If God didn't create freedom of will - it would be a place without sin and a place without suffering - but it would also be a place without love, which is the highest value in the universe.
  • Real love - our love of God and of others - involves real choice......but with the granting of that choice comes the possibility that people would instead choose to hate....
  • Before the Jews introduced the world to 1 God there was paganism, which says if there's evil in the world, then there must be many gods, each of them less than all powerful, some of them good, some of them evil....
  • After God created the world - He said it is good - - - without sin and evil.... God did his part perfectly - - we messed it up !

God is all knowing

  • If God knows all, then a loving God could deliberately tolerate horrible things, like starvation, because he foresees that in the long run, that more people will be better and happier than if he miraculously intervened.
  • He has demonstrated how the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the world ended up resulting in the very best thing that has ever happened in the history of the world - - the death of God himself on the cross....
  • At that time, no one saw how anything good could ever result from this tragedy and God foresaw the result would be the opening of heaven to human beings.
  • So, the worst tragedy in history has bought about the most glorious event in history.
  • and if the ultimate evil could result in the ultimate good - - it can happen elsewhere, even in our own individual lives.
  • Here, God lifts the curtain and lets us see it -- elsewhere, he simply says, "trust me"
  • Suppose you're the devil - the enemy of God - and you want to kill him - but you can't.....However, God has this ridiculous weakness of creating and loving humans, whom you can get at.....You've got hostages ! So - you simply come down into the world, corrupt humankind, and drag some of them to hell. When God sends prophets to enlighten them, you kill the prophets also.........Then God does the most foolish thing of all - - he sends his own son and plays by the rules of the world. - - - and you say "A-ha I got him !"
  • So - when we bleed and suffer, perhaps the same thing is happening ! Maybe this is God's way of defeating the devil.
  • Just as the disciples couldn't see anything good from the cross at the time - - - we cannot see good emerging from struggles, trials and suffering in our own lives....
  • we can see how good came from the suffering and death of Jesus - and we can trust that it will happen in our case too.
  • The greatest Christians in history seem to say that their sufferings ended up bringing them the closest to God - - and this is the best thing that could happen, not the worst.

God is all good

  • dentists, athletic trainers, teachers, parents - they all know that sometimes to be good - - you cannot be kind.... Certainly there are times when God allows suffering and deprives us of the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater good of moral and spiritual education.
  • Moral character gets formed through hardship, through overcoming obstacles, through enduring despite difficulties.
  • For example, courage would be impossible in a world without pain
  • The universe is a soul making machine, and part of that process is learning, maturing, and growing through difficult and challenging and painful experiences. The point of our lives in this world isn't comfort, but training and preparation for eternity.
  • Every time you use force to take away evil, you take away freedom......
  • To prevent all evil, you must remove all freedom and reduce people to puppets, which means they would then lack the ability to freely choose love.
  • If you did this - - you would lose the kind of world a Father would want.....

The megaphone of pain

  • Evil people aren't getting away with anything - - justice delayed is not justice denied.
  • There will be a day when God will settle accounts and people will be held responsible for the evil they've perpetrated and the suffering they've caused.
  • God is delaying the consummation of history out of his great love for them
  • Perhaps one can reason the purpose of suffering, but why the necessity of the excess, which seems so cruel?
  • because we're not God we can't say how much suffering is needed. Maybe every single element of pain in the universe is necessary. How can we know??
  • We are made in God's image - - but we are not morally good. Our good deeds are stained with self-interest and our demands for justice are mixed with lust for vengeance.

Bearing the pain

  • Strobel believes all suffering contains at least the opportunity for good.... but not everyone actualizes that potential......Not all of us learn and benefit from suffering - thats where free will comes in...we choose how to respond!!
  • Just about every human being can reflect on his past and say they've learned from that hardship

Helpful Books
The Case for Faith
by Lee Strobel

When God Doesn't Make Sense by James Dobson
Christian Books, Music, Videos
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Links on Suffering

Listing the following links does not mean that In His Steps Ministries endorses the pastor, church, or every statement in the message. However, we have read each sermon and believe they will be very helpful to those who read them.

Screams of Faith is an absolutely excellent sermon on suffering. It's topic is limited to one question, but an important question-My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?. Are you mad at God because of the tragedy? Then let Him know. He is big enough to hear your screams.

Hope For Those Who Suffer is an excellent website that deals with the subject of suffering in many different ways. I would strongly encourage you to check it out. The webmaster is familiar with suffering.

The Problem with Suffering by Mark A. Copeland is a good site that gives Biblical answers to the following questions:

David Wilkerson from Times Square Church has a sermon titled "The Suffering of Saints!". He answers the question of Why Christians suffer.

What To Do When You Fear the Future by Rev. Matthew S. Kessler is a good short message on principles for living the Christian life in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

When Life is Crazy and God is Silent is based upon Job 23:1-9. Job is bitter with God, but He knows God is with him.

Why Me? asks "Why should I be exempt from suffering?" The reality is that this is a sinful world and we are sinful people, so maybe the question is "why is there not more suffering?".

Here is two links to long sermons by John MacArthur: "How God Uses Suffering--Part 1" and  "How God Uses Suffering--Part 2 ".

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Prophetic Statement

Not A Judgement
by Teresa Seputis
As I write this, the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) happened almost 48 hours ago.  Over the past 48 hours, people have began to speculate why this tragedy has occurred.  Some propose that America has come under judgment and condemnation and this is the first step in her God-ordained destruction.  Others (including some who I respect) have suggested that God intends this as a wakeup call for the United States ...a call to repentance ... e.g., sort of a "spanking" or warning rather than a full blown judgment.

Both of those theories troubled my spirit and were not consistent with the what God spoke to me less than 2 hours after the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center.   So I have been really praying and asking God about this.  I want to share what I believe He said to me.  I want to cover three different areas: 1) what is going on and 2) why this is not a judgment and 3) how we can respond.

What is Going On
----------------

The Lord began to speak to me about what is going on that permitted this terrorist atrocity to occur.  It is really a combination of two things.

First, this is a season where Satan has been given authority to kill, steal and destroy in the nations, as per John 10:10. For a season, Satan has authority in the nations (Luke 4:6). Jesus acknowledges that authority when He refers to Satan as the "ruler of this world" in John 12:31, John 14:30 and John 16:11.  Just as Jesus came to bring life, Satan comes to the nations to bring death and destruction. And we are in a season where he appears to have been granted authority to do so. Satan's attention is not limited to the United States.  If you look around the world at the few last year's events, you will see evidences of Satan's activities and attentions in many nations around the world. There have been genocides, wars, atrocities, economic ruin, human suffering, tragedies, etc in so many parts of the world.

We know from Job 1:10 that God sometimes puts a "hedge of protection" around His servants and even around the nations that name Him as their God. The United States was founded primarily as a Christian nation, and it's laws based primarily on Christian values.  The words "In God We Trust" is written on it's currency, as a constant reminder to the people of the United States that they are God's people.   Because of this, God placed His hedge of protection around the United States and caused it to prosper.  I believe that there were many times in the past where Satan wanted to kill, steal and destroy in the United States on a scale of astronomical proportion; but he was prevented from doing so because of God's hedge of protection around the nation.

Isaiah 5:1-6 show us an important principle about God's hedge of protection. It is offered for a season to allow God's vineyard to cultivate and grow. But if the "vineyard" that God is protecting does not bare good fruit, after due season God tears down the wall of protection and allows it to be "trampled down."  He takes away His protective hedge and allows it to be "burned."

This is what has happened to to the USA as a nation. This terrorist attack is not a judgment, the is due process.  In the past, God had a hedge of protection surrounding the United States.  There are many who love and serve God in this country.  But as a country, as a whole, we have not born good fruit.  As an nation, the United States has brought forth the "wild grapes" of Is 5:4.   Because of this, God has lifted His hedge of protection (Is 5:5). 

Therefore, the United States is no longer protected from Satan's schemes to kill, steal and destroy in all nations on a massive scale.  That is why this terrorist attack was able to hit its target .. in the past that would not have been possible because of God's protective hedge.  But time is up.. God looked for good grapes and He found too many wild grapes.  So He broke down His protective wall that had previously surrounded the United States. Once that protective hedge was gone, the United States became as vulnerable to Satan's schemes against the nations as any other nation. 

(There may be a few nations out there that currently enjoy God's hedge of protection.   South Africa is in the process of reworking her constitution and political system based on Christian standards and values.  In fact, she even has two official Christian political parties.  It is my personal hope and prayer that this will become a Christian nation who enjoys God's hedge of protection and prospers.  And South Korea appears to be very much a Christian nation.. possibly with a higher percentage of born again and praying believers than any other nation on the earth.  It may be that God has put a hedge of protection around her.  I don't know.  But I do know that God has lifted His hedge of protection from the United States.)

Why This is Not a Judgement
---------------------------

First, we have to acknowledge that Israel did go though a cycle where God brought judgement to get them to repent.  They would turn from God to idolatry and God would warn them and then cause them to be attacked and carried away into captivity.  After some number of years in captivity, the people would repent and cry out to God.  He would raise up a deliver and rescue them.  There would be some years of faithfulness and then the whole cycle would repeat.  It is the biblical pattern of God's dealings with Israel that lead some to conclude that the USA is likewise being judged. There are indeed some serious problems/sins in the USA, including abortion, sexual promiscuity, a self-sufficiency and arrogance, and even the "worship" of money. 

But there is a big difference between Israel's spiritual climate when the
judgments fell and the spiritual climate of the United States.  When God judged the nation of Israel, there were not very many faithful servants left.  In some cases, He had only a few prophets and the rest of the nation had forsaken God and had fallen into idolatry.  But in the USA, there are many many who are serve and honor God, who are committed to His Lordship in their lives and who are men and women of prayer.  God has been doing many revival/restoration works in the USA... Pensacola, Washington State and Pasadena to name a few.  Before the November election, God released a prophetic word for the church to pray seriously for this election because it was a critical one.   The Church responded .. there were many city-wide prayer meetings and concerts of prayer, and many who fasted and prayed. Regular church events were cancelled so that people come come together and pray... and many people did so.  The United States certainly has serious
sin problems.. many nations do.  But God has a real (and a growing) presence here in His faithful servants who are committed to obey Him.  In fact, many of the churches in many cities are coming together in city-wide outreach programs, combined with concentrated prayer for the community, and they are seeing results.  People are being reached for the Lord on an ongoing basis. 
This is not the spiritual climate where God brings judgement and shuts down the work He initiated of reaching cities and communities for God.

How Should Believers Respond?
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First, as believers, we must understand that God loves us and that He has put His indwelling Holy Spirit in us, to give us His peace.  It is God's heart and desire that we look to Him and be filled with His supernatural peace that passes all understanding.  We are not to focus on the circumstances and become overwhelmed by anxiety.  We are to put our trust in God and to remind ourselves that He has promised to be
with us in all things and to lead and guide us.  It is certainly appropriate to grieve or mourn the losses and human suffering from this terrorist attack. Romans 12:15 encourages us to "weep with those who weep."  But we are not to become overwhelmed by this sorry and anxiety and fear.  Instead we look to God, and accept and walk in the peace that He gives to us.

Second, each of us individually should examine our hearts before the Lord and should strive to cooperate with the God a much as possible in
personally and individually becoming "good fruit."  The indwelling Holy Spirit is at work in all believers, transforming them to be more like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18).   Choose to cooperate with Him as much as possible, to obey Him as He speaks clearly to you, to walk in personal holiness, to make Jesus Lord of every are area of your life and do things God's way. 

One of the ways that many of us will need to deliberately and consciously  strive to bare good fruit is in the area of forgiveness and not harboring bitterness and resentment and hate.  Some have suffered extreme loss, losing loved ones or being physically injured or experiencing trauma and great fear. Others did not suffer personal loss, but were still deeply impacted, feeling shock, hurt, anger in response to the horror terrorist attacks on their own home soil.  Many Non-Americans were also deeply effected, mourning for the United States' loss and feeling vulnerable themselves, as well as sharing the same feelings of shock, hurt and anger. 

But God's instructions are clear.. FORGIVE.  Jesus Himself commands this many times: Matt 6:14-15, Matt 18:21-35, Luke 6:37, Luke 11:4, Luke 17:3 to name a few.  I am not suggesting that the terrorists should not be found and stopped.  But we each, individually, as Christians must not harbor hate and bitterness in our heart towards them.   For some of us, it will require a choice from our will followed by a supernatural empowerment from God. The good news is that God will help us in this area as we choose to obey Him and forgive.  ALSO, and very important, we need to make sure we do not begin to habor racial prejudices against Arabs or hate the Muslins. God does not hate them, He loves them and wants to bring them to know Him. We must guard our hearts from prejudice towards Muslim and Arab people. We must keep our attitude matching God's attitude.   Our prayer and desire for them should be for their salvation, that they might each come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

Third, believers need to pray for the United States.  All believers should
pray, but US citizens especially need to pray for their nation.  II Chron 7:14 calls for God's people to humble themselves and pray. As they do so, He will heal their land.   We need to coat the USA in prayer.

This next idea is my personal theory, not a prophetic insight.  But we all
know that God is a bit of a "softee" when it comes to requests from His
dear children.  We see His heart to answer our prayers in many places in scripture, including Matt 7:7-11, and in John 14:14.  He is a loving Father who loves to give His children good things when they ask Him.  So I believe that if we come together and ask Him to restore His hedge of protection around the USA, that He may honor that request and answer that prayer.

These are indeed days of great shaking.  I believe we will see this shaking continue over the next season as a "war on terrorism" begins,  as well as shaking from economic fallout of the Sept 11 attacks.  But God's heart for His people in the midst of the shaking is that the be filled with His peace and under His covering protecting arm.  Psalm 91 comes to mind. God is with us and we can walk in His peace.   He is our guide and our protection. I would like to close with God's promise to us from Is 43:2 ... "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." 

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   Teresa Seputis <Teresa@GodSpeak.org

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Terrorism and the God of Christianity

Almighty God, the one true God, represented by God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit is against all forms of terrorism. Not only the terrorism of extreme Islam groups, but the terrorism of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, and the bombings and murders done by anti-abortionists.
 


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