August left me burned out and running on fumes. The reasons were many, like trying to deal with the pain and brokenness around me, a long to-do list, not enough rest, poor sleep, a prayer being answered for my one big thing, and issues at work. I was tapped out.
Because I tried to carry the load myself. I was so foolish.
Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
It seems to happen every year. It wasn’t that I thought I could do it without God. What it was is I was so busy I forgot I needed Him myself.
The Importance of Rest
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Doing God’s work is important, but to do it effectively we need rest and renewal. We can’t give what we don’t have.
That’s why Sabbath time is important. Our daily routines can get in the way of time with God. Guard that time. It’s unhurried time in rest and worship every week; a time to remember what God’s done and restore balance in our life.
A vital prayer life is important. Jesus often went alone to pray. Spending time with God in prayer nurtures our relationship with Him and equips us to meet life’s challenges and struggles.
Schedule a time where it’s just you and God. I am finding that the more I do, the more time I need with Him. Strength comes from God, and we can only be strengthened by spending time with Him. And we all know you have to make time because you’ll never find it.
How to Manage Your Energy
I asked one friend and mentor who had to defer me to another friend and mentor. It wasn’t their strength either. So I asked my other friend. First, she told me to know my limits which reminded me of this Coffee with Jesus strip.
Then she said to ask them if I can pray for them. On days I don’t have a lot to give, ask them if I can pray for them before they get started really good.
We’re human and limited but serve an infinite and all-powerful God. The key is to stay connected to Him and connect others to Him.
Having looked at how God is described in the Bible we now focus on His attributes. Starting with His incommunicable attributes to get a grasp on how big God is.
What does God having incommunicable attributes mean?
They are aspects of His character that are easily misunderstood because we’re not familiar with them. That’s why Grudem’s definitions (as you’ll see) come in two parts. The first part defines the attribute, the second to guard against misunderstanding by stating a balance or opposite aspect that relates.
Is God independent or does he depend on something?
God’s independence is defined as follows: God does not need us, or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify Him and bring Him joy. This is also called God’s self-existence or aseity.
Where in the Bible does it say God doesn’t need any part of creation in order to exist?
In Acts 17:24-25 Luke records Paul saying that God isn’t served by human hands as though he needed anything. God asks Job (Job 41:11), “Who has given to me, that I should repay him?Whatever is under the whole Heaven is mine.” No one can give God anything that doesn’t come from Him first.
C.S Lewis used the analogy of a boy asking his dad for money in order to buy his dad a gift. A pretty good analogy I think.
Did God create us because He was lonely?
No. The Trinity exists in the perfect relationship. In John 17:15 Jesus says the God the Father, “glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.” John 17:24, Jesus speaks to God the Father about, “my glory which you’ve given me in your love before the foundation of the world.”
There was love and communication between the Father and Son before creation. The fact God is a Trinity, three in one, means they had no need for a relationship with us. We weren’t created out of necessity.
Why did God create us? God created us for His pleasure (Colossians 1:16) and so that we, as His creation, would have the pleasure of knowing Him (John 15:14-15).
How can God exist at all?
He exists by the virtue of His own nature, what philosophy calls a necessary being. A necessary being is pure actuality, it cannot not exist. Think of Thomas Aquinas’s unmoved mover.
The Bible says in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” John 1:3 says, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Moses wrote in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
When Moses asked God who should he say sent him, God answered, ““I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
It’s constant present tense rather than past or future. God exists in a fundamentally different order of being. He’s qualitatively different, everything could go away and He would still exist.
So what can we do for God?
We can honor and bring Him joy. We aren’t meaningless. You see, the fact He chose to create us in His image determined that we have value. Enough so that God the Son died for us, for you, shows how significant we are. (Ephesians 1:11-12; John 3:16). In fact, He delights in us (Zephaniah 3:17-18).
I recently finished a book by Tim Keller titled Walking with God through Pain and Suffering. Highly recommend it. It was a gold mine, and I took a stack of notes. I’m going to skip over the explanations and go right to the application part of dealing with suffering.
It’s A Matter of Perspective
In a natural secular framework, this life is all there is and the meaning of it is to be happy. Suffering has no place in this line of thought so there are no inherent resources for dealing with it. It’s why we tend to look to older cultures for help where suffering was a way of life.
Suffering is dealt with by controlling your responses. Some medicate, or self-medicate. Others do it through force of will like the Stoics (who leaned towards fatalism) and Buddhism (which kills all desire so suffering cannot take root). There is also finding the source and eliminating it. Either way, the person is all alone with no one to make it right in the secular view.
I went the way of the Stoics after my godson died, deciding to tough it out for the most part. I did talk to therapists and counselors. It still led to a fatalistic attitude and bottling it up. Like a volcano about to blow, people around me started to get burned and I realized I needed GriefShare.
Learning From Suffering
In the middle of the pain, it’s hard to see any good in it. It’s not until after that we can see it. There are three benefits of suffering.
People who endure and make it through are more resilient. My definition of a bad day is so much higher now.
Suffering strengthens relationships. It’s where you find out who your friends are. It also teaches you to appreciate the living more in times of grief.
Suffering triggers a change in priorities and philosophies. We discover what’s truly important, who is truly important. Slights are easier to forgive, petty arguments become pointless, and trivial negatives are overlooked.
There is a line in the movie The Crow, where the main character, Eric Draven says, “Little things used to mean so much to Shelly–I used to think of them as trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.”
In relationships, the people we care about, and our actions that affect them: that is absolutely right. Everything is precious.
Suffering Is A Forge
A dear friend of mine quoted part of the 23rd Psalm in GriefShare.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.
“Through.” You have to walk through it. As we walk, we are humbled when we discover how little control we have. That was one of my major wake up calls.
It also teaches what it truly important, and forces us to rely on God. Like the Psalm says, “for you are with me.” Grief and pain are like clouds that hide the sun, but God is there.
The lessons we learn from it can help us to help others.
Suffering is Inevitable (Yay?)
This is a broken, fallen world that will one day be restored. Until then we will face suffering. We may bring it on ourselves, it may be from betrayal, or we have no idea why it’s happening. The one we all face is loss.
Tim Keller’s advice to prepare for it beforehand is to have a deep knowledge of the Bible and a strong prayer life. The first prepares the mind, the second, the heart.
Walking with God in Suffering
Unlike those with a naturalistic secular view, we’re not alone. It’s not a fight we have to fight alone, and we have a hope that their worldview cannot give them. Afterlife.
Tim lays out 8 things to do as you walk through the valley.
Cry. Be brutally honest with yourself and God. David did, there are several Psalms on lament. Job is an entire book of one man questioning God. Jesus cried bloody tears in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Trust. Trust God because He is sovereign, and trust His love because He’s been through it. Remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Wrestle with it all until you can say is, ‘thy will be done.’
Pray. Job complained to God, and in doing so acknowledged God can do something about it. Go to church, read your Bible, ask God to help.
Discipline your thinking. Look back at answered prayers. I keep a list of mine to help me remember. Look at God’s promises in the Bible like all the tears will be wiped away, no more sickness or death, and everything will be made new. Do this until your heart is engaged.
Self-examination. Adversity presents an opportunity to look at ourselves and ask, ‘how do I need to grow?’ and ‘what weakness is this time of trouble revealing?’
Reorder your loves. Suffering reveals that we either love some things too much, or we don’t love God enough in proportion to them. Suffering hurts more when we turn good things into ultimate things. Jesus suffered mightily on the cross for us and recognizing that will help.