Generation Cedar

“Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing.” 1 Peter 4:19

To choose to suffer means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s Will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not.

The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates (weakens).  If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is – Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23).

Be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy to blacken God’s character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needed sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10.)

Notice God’s unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say – God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.

-Oswald Chambers

19 Responses

  1. I am so amazed at how together you have it! I am looking for some wise words of wisdom for my teenager and wondering if you could personally answer a couple questions for me. If you have the time and would do this for me, you can reach me at arrowsprings@q.com
    Thank you so much! Love the post! Have “Utmost for His highest”and I treasure it so much!

    Thank you!

  2. Heather,

    It would actually be easier to reply back if you use the contact form (look in the tabs across the top). And I don’t always have it together 😉 I’m only just now about to get a shower and get out of my pjs…how’s that for transparency? (Can I plead pregnancy sickness, though?)

  3. I do disagree that sympathy weakens; self-pity is so different from sympathy from others. What’s wrong with sympathizing with others? That’s empathy for life’s hardships, for the battle with Satan; that’s healing words and understanding, friendship and comfort. I don’t see how he interprets that as bad.

  4. Jennifer, Kelly is better at explaining these things than I am, but for wiw…sympathy is often misplaced and becomes enabling – for lack of a better contemporary word. It becomes something other than an expression of concern, really.

    We all know the situation of a child who falls down and then looks for his mother’s response to see what his should be – if she makes a colossal deal out of mama’s little baby falling down and getting hurt when it’s just a normal preschool age spill and the child isn’t injured, that isn’t helping the child, it’s misplaced sympathy and teaches the child self-pity and manipulation. To the point Chambers is making, she’s interrupted her role of mothering, part of which is to grow the child past the point of offense at every tumble, to satisfy her own need (as is often the case with letting emotions derail our purpose). It does weaken him (please don’t misunderstand me – I don’t mean to imply that an injured child ought to be left to walk it off if they need medical attention, or even motherly reassurance).

    That’s just one explanation, I’m sure there are better examples, but I think that’s the difference in context.

  5. CC–I think you did a superb job of explaining it.

    As you said, showing compassion and enabling others to respond wrongly to their circumstance is the key difference.

    I have often compared the difference in our perception of motherhood versus missionary.

    We all expect the missionary on the foreign field to suffer. And while we can sympathize when he contracts dysentery, no one expects him to come home to avoid further suffering. We recognize that sometimes Christians suffer right in the center of God’s will and we honor him and encourage him all the more for his endurance.

    But let the mother of many “suffer”, and it’s a different story. We offer her all kinds of reasons to put an end to the “suffering”, playing on her sympathies in an unhealthy way.

    There is just a general trend among Christians to believe that suffering is indicative of something anti-God’s will; we must be so careful that in our sympathizing we don’t lead people to believe they are in the wrong place.

    I am seeing this so much recently and it’s heart-breaking. “You don’t have to suffer….Jesus came so you could be free.” Imagine someone telling this to Paul? The truth is that we ARE free, even in suffering, as long as we are obediently following where He leads.

    1. And sadly, often what is perceived as “suffering” has been left to subjectivity, and what might be better described as self-indulgence. I guess people are entitled to feel what they feel – I’m no shining example of self-denial to be sure. But the pity party is certainly alive and well within the Body, and the dilution of service that brings is doing it’s damage.

  6. Well it DOES depend on the place they’re in.

    “You don’t have to suffer….Jesus came so you could be free.”

    I see danger in this as well, on the opposite side: many put themselves in bad situations and consider any relief to be coddling. This has taken various forms, from abusing the concept of suffering as Chambers described to cutting off parts of themselves to fit into a narrow box they believe God has for them, a box they may believe has to fit everyone of their gender, occupation, etc. I understand precisely what you mean and are describing here, but I also see a hardness between the lines that’s a little more severe than my general beliefs on the matter.

  7. I have received a lot of sympathy from various friends and family because my husband of 10 years woke up 8 weeks ago and decided to walk out on me and our 4 small children…leaving us with a full time family business to run while I homeschool. (run-on city). I find myself telling people not to pity me ( it was good that I was afflicted…) I have never been so dependant on Christ for EVERY SINGLE BREATH I TAKE. It’s not exactly the worst place in the world 😉 I still have my self pity parties but I live in Romans, Psalms and Isaiah so those end pretty quickly. God is good and faithful and His promises are for me and my family. I don’t like pity but I would LOVE all the prayers I can get…my husbands name is Robert
    my kids are Gracie 10, Xander, 6 Copland 3, Piper 11m

    1. Kristi,

      May God be pleased to reveal Himself to you in a way you have never known and may the body of Christ rise up and come to your aid. We will be praying for you, dear one.

  8. I’ll pray for you Kristi, though I wish for the sake of your children that you wouldn’t count this affliction as good. That’s more likely to induce pity from me than anything else.

  9. Jennifer,

    Kristi is speaking truth about her life from God’s Word, which is often very counter-human feeling. Don’t pity her for embracing the healing and paradoxical truth of Scripture. It will bring her life.

    “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

    “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;”

    1. None of those passages say that affliction’s good, nor that a spouse’s abandoning is. I rejoice in every way God brings good out of bad, and draws me closer when Satan would pull me away, but I don’t credit Him with tragedy nor call Satan’s work “good”. I don’t follow any remote thought pattern of Calvinism. It’s like having a rock for a pillow; my head will never rest there.

  10. “Kristi said, “It is good that I was afflicted”,

    King David (not John Calvin) said. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71)

    It is paramount that we use accurate Scriptural exegesis, even when it conflicts with our human feelings.

    1. King David and I feel very differently about many things, and he was speaking of his own experience, not everyone’s; some trials are ordained, while other conflicts are Satan’s work. It is typically a Calvinistic thought process to call all conflict God’s, and good, and to use such passages to support this idea.

      1. Jennifer,

        I think it’s futile to argue with you but still so important that you look at the WORD for your understanding about life, especially if you’re offering your interpretations to others.

        King David, the man after God’s heart, only echoed what the entire Bible says about trials and suffering. It doesn’t matter from whence they come; that’s the important point that you’re missing.

        It only matters what our response to them is and that we DO believe God when He says He works ALL things for our GOOD. Because of that, we are repeatedly reminded to “rejoice” in our sufferings.

        “Count it all joy when you experience suffering” is exactly what Kristi was saying when she said, “It is good that I was afflicted”.

        End of debate.

        1. Of course I believe God works all things for our good. That does not mean He causes all bad things, which is my point. And I will not see Him as if He did. There’s a difference between rejoicing for the good He will do, and counting it good that we are afflicted to begin with.

          1. I was afflicted, by Satan. God brought me relief, and it was amazing. His mercy is such that He can bring miracles out of darkness so great, that it almost seems as though the mistake, or blot, never occured. But I know Satan’s mark; I knew it last night. I will never, ever call it God’s; I will never confuse the mercy He shows at the end of suffering with the plan of the wicked creature who caused it to begin with. There is no debate here for me; it is black and white, and red with my soul’s blood. I will fight the spiller of it with every ounce of righteous hatred I have until I die.

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