From  the  book


WHEN  GOD  DOESN’T  MAKE  SENSE



"He Will

Deliver Us,

but If    

Not ..."


We must hasten now to deal with a series of questions that are critical to everything we have discussed to this point: What is God's role in situations that confuse and sometimes disillusion His followers? Where was He amidst the challenges that confronted Chief Bob and Esther Vernon, Dr. Jim and Sally Conway, Darryl and Clarita Gustafson, Dr. Jerry and Mary White, Drs. Chuck and Karen Frye, and the others we have considered? Specifically, does God hear and answer the prayers of His people?


A surprisingly large percentage of Americans believe deeply in the efficacy of prayer. In a Newsweek cover story entitled "Talking to God" (January 6, 1992), the Gallup Poll reported that 78 percent of Americans prayed once a week and 57 percent prayed at least once per day. Ninety-one percent of women prayed at some time and 85 percent of men. This included 94 percent of blacks and 87 percent of whites.


"Some of these prayers," Newsweek commented, "are born in extremis: there are few atheists in cancer wards or unemployment lines. But in allegedly rootless, materialistic, self-centered America, there is also a hunger for a personal experience with God that prayer seeks to satisfy."


The authors concluded:


Even in the university, the temple of all that the Enlightenment has distilled, prayer has found a home. "It was very rare 20 years ago to find vital, vibrant religion on the college campus," says David Rosenhan, professor of law and psychology at Stanford University. "Now there are prayer meetings here that are attended by 300 to 500 students regularly."


I'm not naive enough to believe that all these praying Americans were seeking a committed relationship with the Living God. For some, prayer is only an inch or two from superstition, such as astrology or any other shot in the dark. Nevertheless, the receptivity for things of the Spirit is very encouraging to those of us who have longed for a revival of religious fervor in the nation.


[THAT  WAS  THEN,  TODAY  MARCH  2018,  I  DOUBT  THAT  PERCENTAGE  STILL  HOLDS,  YET  THERE  ARE  MORE  “RELIGIOUS”  PEOPLE  IN  THE  USA  THAN  ANY  OTHER  WESTERN  NATION;  BRITAIN  HAS  LESS  THAN  3  PERCENT  WHO  ATTEND  WEEKLY  CHURCH  SERVICES  -  Keith Hunt]


But what do you believe about the meaning of prayer? Is it true, as James 5:16 says, that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective"? Was Jesus speaking to us when He said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7)?


Speaking personally, I have staked my life on the validity of those promises. They were "God-breathed" and then dutifully recorded by the inspired writers of the Word. Our foundation as believers is rooted in the Scriptures, where the message is unmistakable. Consider these verses:


Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always (1 Chronicles 16:11).


The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him (Proverbs 15:8).


Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1).


In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).


[HERE  AS  A  NOTE,  THE  CONTEXT  SHOWS  CLEARLY  THIS  “SPIRIT”  IS  JESUS  CHRIST,  NOT  A  THIRD  MEMBER  OF  A  TRINITY GOD  -  I  COVER  THIS  ALL  IN  STUDIES  UNDER  “GOD,  CHRIST,  AND  THE  HOLT  SPIRIT”  -  Keith Hunt]


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).


Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:2).


Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.(1 Thes-salonians 5:17-18).


I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing (1 Timothy 2:8).


It is obvious not only that prayer is honored by the Lord, but that we are commanded to enter into this personal communication with Him. And what a privilege it is! Have you considered the nature of this gift we have been granted by the Almighty? We need not make an appointment to get His attention. There are no administrative assistants or secretaries with whom we must negotiate. He never puts us off to a later date when His schedule is less congested.


Instead, we are invited to walk boldly into His presence at any moment, day or night. He hears the faintest cry of the sick, the lonely, the despised of the world. Every one of us is known and loved by Him, despite our imperfection and failures. Truly, the invitation to prayer is a precious expression of the Creator's incomparable love and compassion for humanity. That, understanding has been woven into the fabric of my life and family from earliest childhood.


[SO  IT  WAS  FOR  ME  ALSO,  ATTENDING  A  CHURCH  OF  ENGLAND  SCHOOL  AT  AGE  7  WITH  1/2  HOUR  OF  BIBLE  FIRST  THING  EACH  SCHOOL  DAY  -  Keith Hunt]


The year was 1947 and I was a senior in college. An ominous telephone call came one afternoon from my parents, who sounded anxious and upset. Mom quickly told me that my dad had developed an angry-looking sore on his right hand. They had watched it for some time and realized it was not healing. Finally they went to see a dermatologist and had just returned from his office. My father, age 46, was diagnosed as having carcinoma, squamous cell—a type of skin cancer that is curable in the early stages but dangerous if not treated. The doctor seemed concerned. He told them that a microscopic examination of tissue revealed a "very mature" cell. He couldn't tell whether or not it had metastasized (spread to other parts of the body), but he could not rule out that possibility.


It was decided to treat the cancer with radiation over a period of six weeks. At the end of that time, the healing process should begin. If the lesion was controllable locally, it would disappear entirely in about five more weeks. But if it did not heal, more serious problems were ahead. The specter of amputation was raised. My father was an artist, and the thought of losing his right arm (or his life) alarmed the entire family. We began praying for him.


Four weeks after completing the radiation treatments, the sore was still much the same. No sign of healing had occurred. Tension mounted as we continued to get discouraging medical reports. (I'm sure the disease would be less challenging today than in the fifties, but the episode was extremely distressing at that time.) My father's physician began contemplating the next step. Dad went ton our denominational leaders and requested that brief service occurred two days before the end the fifth week, at which point the dermatologist had indicated a further decision would have to be made. Exactly two days later, the sore healed, over. It never returned.


This is but one example of dramatic answers to prayer that I witnessed during my childhood and youth. Illustrations from that era could fill this book, quite literally, because we were a family that believed in prayer. So many stories come to mind. 


I remember an occasion when my father had given his entire paycheck to a pastor whose children needed shoes and warm clothes. Dad was a soft touch for anyone with a financial problem. Inevitably, we ran out of money a few days later—and went straight to our knees. I can still hear my father praying after he had gathered his little family around.


He said, "Now Lord, You said if we would honor You in our good times that You would be faithful to us in times of need. And as You know, we could use a little help to get us through."


I tell you honestly that a check for $1,200 came in the mail the day following that prayer. My faith grew by leaps and bounds during those formative years, because I saw God respondimg to family that depended upon Him. It happened hundreds of times.


My wife, Shirley, did not grow up in a Christian home, and her experiences were very different from mine. Her father was an alcoholic who abused his family and spoke of God only when cursing. Shirley's mother, while not a Christian, was a wonderful woman who loved her two children. She recognized her need for assistance in raising her kids and began sending them to a neighborhood evangelical church when they were very young. There, Shirley learned about Jesus— and she learned to pray.


This little girl, trapped in poverty and the heartache of alcoholism, began talking to the Lord about her family. Especially after her parents were divorced, she asked Him to grant two requests. First, she prayed for a Christian stepfather who would love and provide for them. Second, Shirley knew she wanted to have a godly home and family someday. She began asking the Lord for a Christian husband when the time came to marry. It touches my heart today to think about that child, alone on her knees in her bedroom, talking to God about her need. I was out there somewhere oblivious of her existence, but the Lord had me in a long-term training program. By the time I met this pretty young lady in college, I did not have to be pushed.


That story beautifully illustrates the efficacy of prayer. The great God of the universe, with all His majesty and power, was not too busy to hear the small voice of a child in need. He not only brought the two of us together, but He sent a fine, never-married man to be Shirley's new stepfather. Both her parents are Christians today and are serving the Lord in their community.


When Shirley and I met and fell in love, therefore, we each brought a strong faith to the relationship. From those early days, we determined that Jesus Christ would have the preeminent place in our lives. I remember the two of us sitting in my junky old Mercury before we were married and expressing a prayer of dedication for our future home. We asked the Lord to direct our paths, and especially, to put His blessing on any children He might loan to us. Then I pledged to Shirley that I would spend the rest of my life trying to provide the kind of happiness and security she had missed as a child. This was the foundation on which our little family was built.


Now, after more than three decades together, we have seen God's consistent faithfulness in response to our prayers. I don't know where we would be without this source of strength and sustenance. In fact, the most significant development of our marriage has been the growth and maturation of Shirley's prayer life. She has become what is sometimes called a "prayer warrior," maintaining a constant communion with the Lord. It is fitting, given this spiritual fervor, that she has been appointed chairman of the National Day of Prayer.


[LET  ME  SAY  HERE,  AND  EXPLAIN  THE  WAY  OF  THE  LORD.  THE  DOBSONS  AND  SHIRLEY  WERE  IN  A  RUN-OF-THE-MILL  SO  TO  SPEAK,  PROTESTANT  CHURCH.  THE  PROTESTANT  CHURCHES  ARE  NOT  A  PART  OF  THE  TRUE  CHURCH  OF  GOD;  THEY  ARE  AS  DECEIVED  IN  THEOLOGY  AS  MUCH  AS  THEIR  MOTHER,  BABYLON  MYSTERY  RELIGION  -  THE  PAPACY!  THE  PROTESTANT  CHURCHES  ARE  THE  DAUGHTERS  OF  THEIR  MOTHER,  THEY  ALL  HAVE  SOME  POINTS  OF  THEOLOGY  DECEPTION  FROM  THEIR   MOTHER  CHURCH.  BUT  EVERYONE  IS  SPIRITUALLY  BLINDED  UNTIL  GOD  REMOVES  THAT  BLINDNESS,  CALLS  THEM  TO  BE  GIVEN  THE  OPPORTUNITY  TO  BE  CHOSEN,  ONE  OF  THE  VERY  ELECT.  ALL  THIS  I  PROVE  IN  OTHER  STUDIES.  IT  IS  GOD  WHO  IS  RESPONSIBLE  TO  TAKE  BLINDNESS  AWAY.  IF  HE  DOES  NOT,  HE  CERTAINLY  HAS  THE  RIGHT  TO  ANSWER  THE  PRAYERS  OF  “CHRISTIANS”  NO  MATTER  WHAT  DENOMINATION  THEY  ARE  IN.  ANSWERING  PRAYERS  IS  MAINLY  TO  DO  WITH  THIS  PHYSICAL  LIFE.  MILLIONS  UPON  MILLIONS,  WELL  ABOUT  1.5  BILLION  CHRISTIANS  ARE  IN  THEOLOGICAL  DECEPTION;  THEY  MAY  VERY  WELL  BE  SINCERE,  BUT  THEOLOGICALLY  THEY  ARE  SINCERELY  WRONG!  AS  SHOCKING  AS  THAT  MAY  SOUND  TO  MOST.  JESUS  SAID  BEFORE  HE  CAME  AGAIN,  MANY  NOT  THE  FEW,  BUT  MANY,  WOULD  COME  SAYING  HE  THE  CHRIST  WAS  THE  CHRIST,  BUT  WOULD  DECEIVE  MANY,  NOT  THE  FEW,  BUT  THE  MANY!  AND  SO  IT  IS.  GOD  HAS  LEFT  THE  99.9  PERCENT  OF  “CHRISTIANS”  IN  THEOLOGICAL  BLINDNESS!  SO  HENCE  THE  LORD  CAN  ANSWER  THEIR  PRAYERS  AS  HE  SEES  FIT.  SO  THERE  IS  NO  QUESTION  THAT  “CHRISTIANS”  AT  LARGE,  HAVE  PRAYERS  ANSWERED  IN  THE  AFFIRMATIVE,  AS  DOBSON  IS  HERE  EXPLAINING  -  Keith Hunt]


Now let me wade into deeper water. Although hundreds of Scriptures tell us that God hears and answers prayer, it is important to acknowledge what most of us have already observed—that He does not do everything we ask in the manner that we would desire. Years may pass before we see the fulfillment of His purposes. There are other occasions when He says "no," or "wait." And let's be honest, there are times when He says nothing at all. As we have indicated, many believers become confused and wounded in those instances, and their faith begins to wobble.


[THAT  IS  BECAUSE  PASTORS  HAVE  NOT  TAUGHT  THEM  THE  ENTIRE  WORD  OF  GOD;  MOST  “CHURCH”  PEOPLE  DO  VERY  LITTLE  DEEP  READING  AND  SEARCHING  THE  SCRIPTURES,  OR  THEY  WOULD  UNDERSTAND  GOD  IS  NOT  SOME  SERVANT  JUST  WAITING  FOR  ORDERS  TO  DO  EVERYONE’S  BUSINESS  OF  THE  DAY  -  Keith Hunt] 


This disillusionment was the theme of a classic novel by W. Somerset Maugham entitled Of Human Bondage. The principal character was a young man with a club foot who had hated his deformity from earliest childhood. When he discovered Christianity, he thought he had found a quick way to get rid of it. He began praying that God would heal his foot and make him normal. As it became apparent that his repeated requests would not be granted, he felt his faith had been invalidated, and he lost interest in God. I wonder how many times that unfortunate drama has been reenacted through the centuries.


Every long-term believer has had the experience of praying for something that God appeared not to grant. As a case in point, let's return to the story of my father's skin cancer. Although he was healed of this disease, both he and my mother are in heaven today. [NO  THEY  ARE  NOT….. DEATH  FOR  A  CHRISTIAN  IS  NOT  GOING  TO  HEAVEN  -  SEE  MY  STUDIES  UNDER  “DEATH,  LIFE  AND  RESURRECTION”  -  Keith Hunt]. Our prayers regarding subsequent illnesses did not keep them earthbound when the Lord called them across the Great Divide. If that is troubling to the reader, remember that Lazarus, whom Jesus miraculously raised from the dead, later died again. Every person Jesus healed eventually passed away. It is said that time heals all wounds. That may be true, but it also wounds all heals.


Does this seem contradictory to the affirmation of prayer I have expressed? It shouldn't! Consider for a moment the kind of world it would be if God did exactly what we demanded in every instance. First, believers would outlive nonbelievers by centuries. The rest of the human family would be trapped in decaying bodies, but Christians and their children would live in an idyllic world set apart. They would never have toothaches or kidney stones or myopic vision. All of their businesses would succeed and their homes would be beautiful, etc. The entire basis for the God-man relationship would be undermined. People would seek a friendship with Him in order to gain the fringe benefits, rather than responding with a heart of repentance and love. Indeed, the most greedy among us would be the first to be drawn to the benefits of the  Christian life. Most importantly, these evidences of God's awesome power would eliminate the need for faith. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:24, "Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" Our faith, then, is anchored not in signs and wonders but in the sovereign God of the universe. He will not "perform" on cue to impress us. Jesus condemned those who wanted Him to put His miracles on display, saying, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it" (Matthew 12:39)- He wants us to accept Him in the absence of proof. Jesus told Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). We serve this Lord not because He dances to our tune, but because we trust His preeminence in our lives. Ultimately, He must be—He will be—the determiner of what is in our best interest. We can't see the future. We don't know His plan. We perceive only the small picture, and not even that very clearly. Given this limitation, it seems incredibly arrogant to tell God what to do—rather than making our needs known and then yielding to His divine purposes. Jesus Himself modeled that attitude of submission for us. He asked His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane that the "cup" of humiliation and death be removed from Him. He knew fully what the crucifixion meant. The emotional pressure was so intense that great drops of blood penetrated His skin. Medically speaking, that phenomenon is called hematidrosis, and it occurs only in persons undergoing the most severe distress. Yet even in the midst of that agony, Jesus prayed, "Yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

There are many other biblical examples of this yielding to divine authority. The Apostle Paul asked the Lord on three separate occasions to remove the irritant he
called "a thorn in the flesh." Three times the answer was no. Instead, he was told, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
(2 Corinthians 12:9).


You'll also remember the story of Moses and his encounter with the voice of God in the burning bush (Exodus 3-4). The Lord instructed him to confront Pharaoh and demand that the children of Israel be released from Egyptian captivity. When Moses asked why the children of Israel should believe God had sent him, the Lord armed him with miraculous powers. He turned his staff into a snake and back again into a staff. Then He caused Moses' hand to become leprous and made it healthy again. Finally, God told him that if they would not believe those two signs, he should take water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground and it would turn into blood. These startling feats were designed to reveal the power of God and to authenticate Moses as His representative.


But then a curious thing happened. Moses complained that he lacked eloquence for the task—"I am slow of speech and tongue" (Exodus 4:10)—yet the Lord did not offer to heal that infirmity. Doesn't that seem strange? He had just performed uncanny miracles that enabled Moses to carry out His mission. Why wouldn't He eliminate this troublesome speech impediment? He certainly had the power to do so. Wouldn't it have been logical for the Lord to have said, "You're going to need a strong voice to lead a million people through the wilderness. Henceforth, you will speak with authority!" No, that isn't the way Jehovah responded. First, He became angry at Moses for using this source of weakness as an excuse. Then He designated Moses' brother, to serve as his mouthpiece. Why didn't He just "do the job right" and get rid of the problem? We don't know. As I've said before, there are times when God doesn't make sense.


We can assume that the Lord didn't heal Moses' “slowness of tongue" because Moses, like Paul, was learning that his strength was made perfect in weakness. He was chosen for leadership not because he was a miracle-worker or a superman but because the Lord determined to use his inadequacies and shortcomings.


Thank God, I was accepted under the same provision. Each of us is riddled with flaws and shortcomings that the Lord could overcome with a whisper. Instead, He often lets us struggle with our weaknesses to reveal His own power.


That understanding comes straight out of Scripture: Paul wrote, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [clay pots], that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:7, KJV).


It seems to me that every believer has at least one problem with his "clay pot" that is especially troublesome—a nagging irritant or disease—that the Lord steadfastly refuses to remove. I call them "if onlys."


Look around at your Christian friends. Talk to them about their circumstances. Most will admit to having an "if only" that keeps life from being ideal. If only I didn't have diabetes, or deafness, or sinus problems (or any combination of medical problems). If only my husband    and I were not infertile. If only I hadn't gotten into that bad business relationship, or a lawsuit, or a loveless  marriage. If only we didn't have a sick child, or a retarded son or daughter, or a troublesome mother-in-law. If only we weren't so strapped financially. If only I hadn't been sexually abused as a child. If only ... if only God would clear up this one difficulty for me. Yet the problems persist. Regarding those difficulties, the Lord quietly repeats what He said to Paul nearly 2,000 years ago, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). 


If I may paraphrase my understanding of that Scripture, He says to us, "Everyone is asked to endure some things that bring discomfort, pain, or sorrow. This is  yours. Accept it. Carry it. I will give you the grace to endure it." Thus, life goes on in a state of relative imperfection.


Elisabeth Elliot proposed another explanation for the troubles of mankind in a short essay called "Nevertheless, We Must Run Aground." This is what she wrote:


Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it "run aground?"


The story of Paul's voyage as a prisoner across the Adriatic Sea tells how an angel stood beside him and told him not to be afraid (in spite of winds of hurricane force), for God would spare his life and the lives of all with him on board ship. Paul cheered his guards and fellow-passengers with that word, but added, "Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island" (Acts 27:26).


It would seem that the God who promises to spare all hands might have "done the job right,"  the ship as well, and spared them the ignominy of having to make it to land on the flotsam and jetsam that was left. The fact is He did not, nor does He always spare us.


Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.


[YES  WE’LL  FIND  IT  IN  THE  RESURRECTION  AND  ETERNITY,  NOT  BEFORE  -  Keith Hunt]


"Running aground," then, is not "the end of the world." But it helps to "Lead us not into temptation "—the temptation complacently to settle for visible things.1

   

There is practical wisdom in these words. All believers will "run aground" at some point in their lives, and they (we) must learn not to panic when the ship grinds

……


1 "The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter," September/October 1988.

……


into a sandbar! That poise under pressure can be learned to some degree. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." It is an acquired serenity.


Unfortunately, there are a few highly visible Christian ministers who confuse people by teaching them there is no need for perseverance and self-control. Why should we practice endurance when health and wealth are available to everyone? By making just the right noises to God, we can tap into His power for trouble-free living. They would transform the King of the Universe into a subservient magician, or a high powered errand boy, who has bound Himself irrevocably to the whims and wishes of us mere mortals. It is a dangerous misrepresentation of Scripture with far-reaching implications for the uninitiated.


[YES  WE  HAVE  THE  MINISTERS  OF  THE  “PHYSICAL  RICHES  GOSPEL”  WHERE  IT’S  TAUGHT  GOD  WANTS  YOU  TO  BE  PHYSICALLY  BLESSED  WITH  LOTS  OF  MONEY,  NO  MORTGAGE,  A  FANCY  MORE  EXPENSIVE  CAR,  HOLIDAYS  HERE  AND  THERE  -  A  GET  RICH  LIFE  BY  CONCENTRATION  ON  SOME  VERSES,  WHILE  IGNORING  OTHERS…. AS  SOME  HAVE  SAID,  “YOU  CAN  MAKE  THE  BIBLE  SAY  ANYTHING  YOU  WANT  IT  TO  SAY.”  MANY  OF  THESE  “PHYSICAL  RICHES”  GOSPEL  PREACHERS,  LIVE  IN  MULTI-MILLION  DOLLAR  MANSIONS,  HAVE  EXPENSIVE  CARS,  EVEN  THEIR  OWN  JET  AIRPLANES,  AND  THEY  TEACH  THEIR  TUNNEL  VISION  BIBLE  FOLLOWERS  THEY  ALSO  CAN  HAVE  ALL  THIS.  THEY  GET  SUCKED  IN  BECAUSE  THEY  DO  NOT  READ  ALL  THE  BIBLE  -  AND  LIKE  GAMBLERS  THEY  ARE  HOOKED  ON  GETTING  PHYSICALLY  RICH,  AFTER  A  WHILE  IT  IS  LIKE  A  DRUG  AND  THEY  ARE  CONSTANTLY  BEING  FED  THE  RICHES  DRUG,  AFTER  A  WHILE  THEY  ARE  AN  ADDICT  -  Keith Hunt]  


I heard a radio minister say on a recent broadcast, "you have a need, it will be met the moment you ask for help from the Lord. Even as you begin to pray, it is already accomplished. God will solve that problem, whether it is sickness, unemployment, the need for money—whatever. If you have faith, there's no question that God will solve it for you."


It's true that the Lord often does intervene dramatically in the lives of those in difficulty. Scripture could not be more clear about that fact. But He will be the determiner of how He responds. No one has the right to make that decision for Him!


After hearing the radio minister make his sweeping assertion, I went directly to my office at Focus on the Family to attend a staff devotional. I shared what I had heard on the air, to which one of my colleagues said, "It's too bad my dad doesn't know that." His elderly father has suffered a debilitating stroke and now sits partially paralyzed in a wheelchair. This good man, a retired minister who gave his life to Christian service, is going through a tough time. He spends much of his day looking out the window at a golf course on which he will never again walk. It is unconscionable to tell such hurting people that they simply lack the faith to be good as new.


[IT  IS  ABOMINABLE  THAT  SUCH  PEOPLE  TEACH  THIS  TO  OTHERS  BY  ONLY  QUOTING  CERTAIN  VERSES,  OR  GIVING  ONLY  SOME  EXAMPLES  IN  THE  BIBLE  TO  BOLSTER  THEIR  “HEALTH  AND  WEALTH”  GOSPEL.  THEN  IT  IS  ALSO  UP  TO  THE  INDIVIDUAL  TO  READ  THE  ENTIRE  BIBLE  FOR  THEMSELVES,  NOTING  ALL  THINGS  THE  BIBLE  TEACHES  -  SO  THE  INDIV- IDUAL  PERSON  HAS  THEIR  PART  TO  DO…..TO  READ  AND  LIVE  BY  EVERY  WORD  OF  GOD  AS  JESUS  SAID  WE  SHOULD (MAT. 4:4)  -  Keith Hunt]


I witnessed another example of this distortion last summer when I visited the United Kingdom. I had gone there to write the early chapters of this book and was deeply enmeshed in the difficult issues we are discussing. Almost on cue, I learned that an American "faith healer" was coming to conduct a highly publicized crusade in London. The media gave this man much wider coverage than he would have received at home, calling him "one of the most popular televangelists in the States." (Actually, he is not very well known here.) Clearly, the British press was convinced that a phony was coming to rip off the gullible in the name of the Lord. That is, indeed, the way it looked.


I will not judge the motives of this televangelist because I am not personally acquainted with him. Perhaps he believes he is doing the Lord's work. But there were aspects of his London crusade that were disturbing. His ad in the tabloids depicted a pair of dark glasses like those worn by the blind. They were cracked. It also featured a white cane, broken in the middle. The caption read, "Some will 'see' miracles for the first time!" Get it? I'm sure thousands of handicapped men, women, and children in London understood the message. It implied an end to suffering was available for those attending the "miracle service." It's not that God can't heal the blind—or any disease or deformity. He can and He does. But to my knowledge, He never performs those miracles en masse. Let's put it this way: I have never seen any minister fulfill a promise of universal healing to all comers. Oh, there are some who would have us believe they have a magic touch. But there is reason for skepticism. Furthermore, there's often a disturbing hysteria or a circus atmosphere in the healing services. Such mass-produced miracles affront the sovereignty of God and make a sham of His holy worship.


I'm also convinced that each advocate of universal health and wealth has a little secret down deep in his soul. He has had the experience of praying for a desperately ill family member or a close friend who, nevertheless, did not survive. It has happened to every pastor in every denomination. But this secret is rarely admitted amidst the glitz and exuberance of a "miracle service." Do you agree that there is something not quite honest about concealing those instances when God replies, "It is not my will"?


[YES  I  AGREE  INDEED!  -  Keith Hunt]


Returning to the televangelist who came to London, the British media was even more skeptical when the crusade ended. They hired physicians to interview and examine blind and sick people coming out of the "miracle" services. The results were very embarrassing to committed Christians in that great city. It effectively alienated some nonbelievers who might otherwise have been open to the message of the gospel.


There is another reason I am concerned about the teaching of universal health and prosperity. It establishes a level of expectations which will eventually wound and weaken unstable Christians. Someone said, "The man who expects nothing will never be disappointed." By contrast, a person who really believes that all trouble will be swept away for the followers of Christ is left with no logical explanation when God fails to come through, sooner or later an illness, a business collapse, an accident, or some other misfortune will leave him in dismay.


What is he to believe when he discovers "life as it is" turns out to be very different than "life as it is supposed to be"? He stumbles toward one of several conclusions, all of which are potentially damaging to his faith: (1) God is dead, irrelevant, bored, or uninvolved in the affairs of man; (2) God is angry at me for some sin I've committed; (3) God is whimsical, untrustworthy, unfair or sinister; or (4) God ignored me because I didn't pray enough or display enough faith.


All four of these alternatives serve to isolate that individual from God at precisely the moment when his spiritual need is the greatest. I believe it is a ploy of Satan to undermine the faith of the vulnerable. And it begins with a theological distortion that promises a stress-free life and a God who always does what He is told. (Note: Some unpleasant experiences in life do result from sinful behavior. We'll discuss those circumstances in chapter 9).


Those who would give glib answers to the awesome question of human suffering have probably not spent much time thinking about it. They certainly have not labored, as I have, in a major children's medical center. There, little kids go through terrifying experiences every day of the week. Some are born in pain and know nothing else. Some have mothers who are cocaine or heroin addicts and come into the world in desperate need of a "fix." For days, the perinatal ward echoes with their pitiful crying. Older children are brought in who have been humiliated, battered and burned by their abusing parents.


Others are like the little brown-eyed girl I remember so vividly in the oncology unit of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She was a four-year-old charmer whose parents had thought she was normal and healthy. But the previous day, her mother noticed a protrusion on her side when she was bathing the child. It turned out to be a large malignant tumor. She had only a few months to live. I left her room with a lump in my throat and a longing to go home and hug my healthy boy and girl.


Perhaps you have noticed that life seems blatantly unfair. It pampers some of us and devastates others.


Perhaps this is the most disturbing question posed to the thoughtful Christian. How can we explain such an apparent injustice? How can an infinitely loving and just God permit some people to experience lifelong tragedy while others seem to enjoy every good and perfect gift? And what can we conclude when the unfortunate individual is a child? Well, I know the answer offered by theologians—that sickness and death came into the world as a result of sin, and we are all under sentence of death. It comes to some sooner than others. I understand and accept that explanation, even though it leaves us with a troubled spirit.


[TRUE  THE  WRONG  WAYS  OF  LIVING  MULTIPLY  DOWN  THROUGH  GENERATIONS…. WE  EAT  WRONG,  WE  FARM  WRONG,  WE  POLLUTE,  WE  DESTROY  THINGS  THEN  ADD  A  FEW  VITAMINS  AND  CALL  IT  “HEALTHY”  FOR  YOU.  WE  AS  WESTERN  WORLD  PEOPLE  HAVE  GREATLY  DEGENERATED  OVER  TIME.  WE  HAVE  DEGENERATED  A  LOT  EVEN  FROM  OUR  GRANDFATHERS  TIME.  IN  PHYSICAL  LIFE  WE  IN  THE  WEST  DO  SO  MANY  THINGS  WE  SHOULD  NOT  BE  DOING,  AND  DO  NOT  MANY  THINGS  WE  SHOULD  BE  DOING;  IT  EVENTUALLY  CAN  GO  DEEP  ENOUGH  INTO  ARE  VERY  NDA,  AND  CHILDREN  ARE  BORN  WITH  MANY  PHYSICAL  PROBLEMS  -  AND  THE  WHEEL  KEEPS  TURNING  -  GOD  TOLD  ANCIENT  ISRAEL  IT  WOULD  BE  THIS  WAY  IF  THEY  DID  NOT  OBEY  HIS  LAWS  AND  COMMANDMENTS  -  Keith Hunt]


Admittedly, this explanation of suffering is not very satisfying as we look into the face of a child in pain. It is, however, the best we can do. I've indicated that we can explore the mind of God only so far, and then, inevitably, we run out of brain power. His thoughts are not only unknown to us—they are largely unknowable. He has never made Himself accountable to man, nor will He ever. He will not be cross-examined or interrogated. Nowhere in the Bible does God speak defensively or seek our approval on His actions. He simply says, "Trust me." In His lengthy interchange with Job, not once did Jehovah apologize or attempt to explain the hardship that befell His servant. Still, we are told specifically that God is loving, kind, merciful, long-suffering, gracious, fatherly, patient, etc. So what are we going to do with the discomfort of unanswered questions? It all comes down to the choices posed by Dr. Jim Conway. Either we continue to believe in God's goodness and postpone our questions until we see Him face to face—or we will descend into bitterness and anger for the suffering around us. There are no other alternatives. Inevitably, you see, we circle back to the necessity of faith.


Well, let me end with this: You'll remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reported in the third chapter of Daniel. They incurred the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar by refusing to fall down and worship the idol he had set up. He made it clear that if they again refused to obey his command, they would be thrown into a "burning fiery furnace." Their response to that murderous threat is one of the most inspiring passages in Scripture:


The God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)


What courage these men showed in the very face of death! What conviction! What faith! "God can save us," they said, "but if not, we'll serve Him anyway." That is the biblical prescription in its simplest terms. He can heal the disease that grips my body—but if not, my faith will survive. He can correct my child's handicap, or save my bankrupt business, or bring my son home safely from the war. But if not, I will continue trusting in Him. That's what Job meant when he said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (13:15, NKJV). It is what Paul meant when he said, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5, NKJV). In verse 8 Paul describes that mind-set: "He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross." That utter abandonment to the sovereign will of the Lord is what He wants of His people, even when circumstances seem to swirl out of control. He can rescue—but if not . . . !


To the reader out there who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or the parent whose child is in danger, or the recently widowed woman who faces life alone—let me offer a final word of encouragement. Remember when Nebuchadnezzar looked into the blazing furnace and saw four men instead of three, and the fourth looked like the "Son of God"? It is comforting to note that only Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego came out of the fire. That other Man, whom we believe to have been the Christ, remained there to comfort and protect you and me when we go through our fiery trials.


He will never let you down—but He won't let you off, either!

………………..


TO  BE  CONTINUED


OVERALL  MOST  CHRISTIANS  DO  NOT  HAVE  A  SMOOTH  RIDE  IN  THIS  PHYSICAL  LIFE;  FOR  MOST  THERE  WILL  BE  BUMPS  ALONE  THE  WAY;  THERE  WILL  BE  THE  TOP  OF  THE  MOUNTAIN  AND  THE  LOWS  OF  THE  VALLEY.  MOST  CHRISTIANS  WILL  GO  THROUGH  SOME  TRIALS,  TESTS,  AND  TROUBLES  OF  VARIOUS  TYPES.  GOD  ONLY  GIVES  A  SMOOTH,  LITTLE  TO  NO  PROBLEMS,  BUT  TO  A  VERY  FEW.  ONE  THING  HE  HAS  PROMISED  TO  HIS  CHILDREN  IS  THAT  HE  WILL  NEVER  TRY  YOU  ABOVE  WHAT  YOU  ARE  ABLE  TO  BEAR…. YOU  WALK  IN  TRUST  AND  FAITH,  AND  YOU  WILL  SEE  THE  LIGHT  AT  THE  END  OF  THE  TUNNEL;  BUT  REMEMBER  THE  LIGHT  FOR  SOME,  LIKE  PAUL,  PETER,  JAMES,  AND  OTHERS  WAS  THE  LIGHT  OF  DEATH.  WE  ARE  IN  A  SPIRITUAL  FIGHT,  SATAN  IS  GOING  ABOUT  TRYING  TO  DEVOR  ALL  HE  CAN.  WE  MUST  BE  AS  PAUL….. “I  HAVE  FOUGHT  A  GOOD  FIGHT;  I  HAVE  RUN  A  GOOD  RACE…..A  CROWN  OF  GORY  WAITS  FOR  ME.”


Keith Hunt