GOD Almighty, the Creator, we Christians call Jesus,
allowed sin and suffering to enter the world thru Adam's fall Gen3.
GOD is clear in Ps51:5 Rom5:12, so we are subject to Rom1:18; 2:9
till Jesus restores to us individually His holy, pure nature 2Pet1:4.
GOD's restoring process or redemption plan is Bible based but varies
in its application; Job33 Acts14:22 Rom6 all qualify soul salvation.
GOD is taking Karla thru her personal Lk3:16; 12:50 Mk10:39 into 1Jn3:6.

GOD is having Joni edify His 3part church that a few Zech13:9, as
Paul, who lived for others' souls 2Cor12:15 or Phil3 or Col1:29.
Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty
Joni Eareckson Tada

     "Are there really reasons for suffering, Joni?" Karla Larson asked, as though the question itself rested on her shoulders like the weight of the world.  Karla is a woman in her late thirties who is desperate to understand a few reasons why.  Severe diabetes is the root of it all.  Both legs amputated.  A heart attack.  A kidney transplant.  Constant battles with collapsed veins.  Severe edema and legally blind.  When we first met at a Joni and Friends retreat, I remarked, "Karla, I'm amazed you were able to make it," to which she replied with a grin, "I thought I'd better come before I lost any more body parts."
     "Look at me," she said, dropping her gaze to her lap.  Through her shorts, I could see the contour of the large plastic cups around her stumps, Karla wasn't wearing cosmetic legs, but the bare steel bar kind with a hinge at the knee.  She held up her hand to show something new: a fat white gauze wrapped around the end of a knuckle.  Her finger had been amputated. "I'm falling apart."
     After several moments, she continued, "I'm a Christian.  I've suffered.  Don't you think I've paid my dues?" she asked with pleading eyes.
     "I'm not depressed or anything, I just... don't see the point.  I want to go home now.  Heaven, I mean."
     "Grab your Bible," I said, gesturing to the one squeezed between her leg and the side of her wheelchair, "and read for me Philippians 1:21."
     Karla fumbled through the pages with her hand (I told her I wished I could help but my hands were no better; in fact, worse.)  She found the page and read aloud, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."  She brightened, "Hey, there it is!  See?  To die would be gain.  Even an apostle agrees with me."
     I smirked.  "Read on."
     "Okay, okay...'If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two:  I desire to part and be with Christ which is better by far; but it is necessary for you that I remain in the body" (Phil. 1:22-24).
     Watching a half-blind, legless, ailing woman trace the words on the page with a bandaged hand and give them voice made my throat clutch.  "It's okay to be torn between the two," I said softly.  "To go home to heaven is better by far."  Karla gave a puzzled look as if I were granting her permission to end it all with sleeping pills.  "But," I said quickly and emphatically, "but it is more necessary that you remain here."
     "Why?"  she scrunched her face.
     "Look, read it again.  It says, 'It is more necessary for you that I remain.'  You may think it's far better to depart and be

with Christ, but as long as you remain in the body, your family and friends have something to learn.  Something of eternal importance."
The Power of Example
     So many in our culture of comfort are not surviving crises.  Slump-shouldered and near defeat, they need the power of example.  They need to see someone experiencing greater conflict than themselves make it.  "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Heb. 6:12).
     If people are floundering in the mire of their problems, if they are infected by a spirit of complaint, or if they are (GOD forbid) lazy like the battle-weary believers mentioned in Hebrews, they need to be reminded that the power of GOD works - really works, not in theory, but in reality - in someone else's life.  It's a good "reason why" behind our suffering.  Karla Larson is a powerful example.
     "Do you realize GOD needs you?" I asked her.
     "He doesn't need anybody."
     "Look up another verse. Colossians 1:24."
     "Okay, here it is," Karla said after she found the verse. ... Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church."'
     She reread it silently then looked up.  "Huh?"
     "Nothing is lacking when it comes to what Christ did on the cross.  It is finished, just as He said, but something is lacking when it comes to showcasing the salvation story to others.  Jesus isn't around in the flesh, but you and I are.  When we suffer and handle it with grace, we're like walking billboards advertising the positive way GOD works in the life of someone with inspiration," I stammered, groping for words.  "It's you.  Because we are one in the body of Christ, we are linked together.  Your victories become mine" (I Cor. 12:26).
[CCCInc. Note: 1Cor12:12-28a qualify His true, holy body living 1Jn3:6 in Him.]
     No man is an island.  We are all connected.  "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone" (Romans 14:7).  The purpose of life is to live for others.  Jesus showed us that.  Especially "Others" who are stiff-necked and stubborn against Him.  First Corinthians 1:27 talks about them:  "For GOD chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; GOD chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him."
For the Sake of Others
     After Karla and I prayed, she turned her wheels to go.  "I'm going to think about what we covered," she said over her shoulder as she went ahead.  I watched as a few of Karla's friends who had brought her to our retreat gathered around her.  One of them gave her a bottle of water, a straw, and a hug.  It is better, it is necessary for them that Karla remains.
     Something nagged, though.  Does this make hurting people nothing more than audiovisual aids in the hands of a utilitarian GOD?  Object lessons from which others can learn?  Do suffering people keep emptying themselves as mere role models of inspiration?  What does Karla stand to gain?  
[CCCInc. Note: We must copy Christ into His death to be worthy of His life Rom6, then we must be fellow-partakers
1Cor10+11 or 2Cor4:11 or 1Pet4:12.]

     I hearkened back to the example of Paul.  After he acknowledged it was more necessary that he remain in order to strengthen and encourage others, he added.  "I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you, your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me"  (Phil. 1:25).
     I like that part "on account of me."  What others gain from observing Karla gets credited to her eternal account.
     If they profit, she gains.  If they are rewarded, she reaps.  If they are lifted up, she is raised with them.  She shares in the blue ribbon for the fruit borne in their lives.  This is why the Apostle Paul spoke of those in whom he invested his life as "his joy and crown" (Phil. 4:1).  Other people are our crown!
[CCCInc. Note: Willing suffering in His purity is qualified in Rom8:17 2Tim2:12a explaining Dan12:3 Rev11:7
(Dan8:24; 11:31; 12:7) into Rev20:6.]

     "Praise be to the GOD and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the GOD of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have

received from GOD.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort which produces in you endurance of the same sufferings we suffer" (2 Cor. 1:3-6).
     "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  who, being in the very nature GOD, did not consider equality with GOD something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant... He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!  Therefore GOD exalted Him to the highest place" (Phil.
     All the power, honor, glory, blessing and riches showered upon Christ on His crowning day, all of it, overflowing all the universe, we will share in.  What is it worth?  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).
     GOD never would have chosen suffering as a path for His people, but since humans opted for that detour, since suffering is now part of what it means to be a homo sapiens, GOD is going to use it.  Not halfheartedly, but in delight.  For as dark and pernicious as it is, GOD will squash suffering like a grapefruit in the face of the devil, turning it inside out into something sweet, delightful, and heavenly.  If suffering can't be avoided, GOD's going to redeem it to usher us into the highest echelons of heaven.
     "GOD has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that each part should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it" (I Cor. 12:24-26).
     As the Church exercises its muscles in sacrificial service, it rises to its calling, it steps into the grand purpose for which it was designed.  As it does, GOD smiles.  Suffering is being squelched.  Pain is being purged.  And the darkness which chokes the hearts and blinds the eyes is being pushed back.  When your heart is being wrung out like a sponge, an orderly list of "sixteen good Biblical reasons as to why this is happening" can sting like salt in a wound.  You don't stop the bleeding that way.  A checklist may be okay when you're looking at your suffering in a rearview mirror, but when you're hurting in the present tense, "Let me explain why this is happening" isn't always livable.
     We must use the Bible's answers from GOD.  The problem of suffering is not about some thing, but Someone.  It
follows that the answer must not be one thing, but Someone.  "Knowing our Lord Jesus Christ" is keeping your eye on the Sculptor - not on the suffering, or even suffering's benefits.
     GOD, like a father, doesn't give advice.  He gives Himself.  He becomes the husband to the grieving widow (Isaiah 54:5).  He becomes the comforter to the barren woman (Isaiah 54:1).  He becomes the father of the orphaned (Psalm 10:14).  He becomes the bridegroom to the single person (Isaiah 62:5).  He is the healer to the sick (Exod. 15:26).  He is the wonderful counselor to the confused and depressed (Isaiah 9:6).
     This is what you do when someone you love is in anguish:  you respond to the plea of their heart by giving them your heart.  If you are the One who's the center of the universe, holding it together, if everything moves, breathes, and has its being in you, you can do no more than give yourself (Acts 17:28).
     Jesus lost His life.  Thankfully, He was not scorched by death.  He burst back to life.  What power!  If I'm to be held steady in the midst of my suffering, I want to be held not by a doctrine or a cause but by the most powerful person in the universe.
     Amazing love, how can it be?  That GOD should plunge the knife in His heart for me - all the while, me dry and indifferent, cool and detached.  That He, the GOD of life, should conquer death by embracing it.  That He should destroy the power of sin by letting it destroy Him.  This is "the foolishness of GOD... wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of GOD stronger than man's strength" (I Cor. 1:25).
     Once heaven has our attention, a fervid anticipation for GOD's ultimate reality - appearing with Him in glory - beings outgrow, making everything earthly pale in comparison.  Earth's pain keeps crushing our hopes, reminding us this world cannot satisfy; only heaven can.  And every time we begin to nestle too comfortably on this planet, GOD cracks open the locks of the dam to allow an ice-cold splash of suffering to wake us from our spiritual slumber.

Excerpted from When GOD Weeps:  Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada
and Steven Estes ©1997, published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 49530.



23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of GOD."

Mat6:33:  seek the kingdom,   seek His righteousness,
both require a work of faith (belief) or "obedient faith."

GOD's kingdom:  thru...
Mat11:12  "violent take it"
Lk13:24  "strive to enter"
Jn10:9  "if enter...saved"
Jn3:5  must be born of GOD
Acts14:22  "thru tribulations"
2Pet1:10  "diligence" into 1:11,12
His kingdom is in Him  Rom14:17
very few in Him 1Jn2:6; 3:6
also born of GOD 1Jn3:9; 5
His righteousness:   thru obedient faith...
note: justify + set right is the same Greek
Rom2:13  doing the law justifies
Rom3; 4:12-16  Jam2  faith works
Gal2; 3 thru faith, copying Abraham
1Cor1:30  "in Christ" (of Him 1Jn3:9)
...again in Rom6
Rom6:16  "obedience to righteousness"
Rom6:18  "slaves of righteousness"
the true heavenly promises are "in Christ" 2Cor1:20-22, if we
continue to be sealed by the Spirit, our guarantee Eph1:13,14; 4:30,
as the Spirit is life Jn4:10-14; 6:63; 7:37-39  2Cor3:6; 5:5  1Jn3:24; 5.
Dear Laszlo,
Apr '98-Passover
GOD's special gift has been given to you; a place in His kingdom, reserved
for very few believers who went thru His purging fire and cleansing water.
GOD's gift you currently belittle, in fact, stupidly, almost deny, so beware,
lest you continue being negative and blaspheme in your heart.
GOD is separating you from your family because you failed to heed
His voice and continued following worldly ways, against the Spirit.
GOD is purging you of the negative spirit Jn15:2, as you are currently
useless to Him in edifying His flock, they need encouraging words only.
GOD had us put the Mar '98 letter on the internet for the world to see
how He is refining His true people, but warning them to continue.
GOD promised He would change your mind into an edifying tool, that
He can use to copy true disciples who never complain, but edify.
GOD has a mere handful at your level in the whole world, so stop
feeling sorry for yourself and start praising our holy Almighty GOD.
GOD, in Mar '84, completed my Rom6 into 14:17, then in Apr '84 took me
into a deep purging of my mind Eph4:23, so today I have completed 14 years
in heart and mind purity, refusing satan's evil temptations, yet lest I become
complacent, He warns me 1Cor9:27 2Cor7:1 Heb3:6,14 Rev3:5.
Dear Laszlo,
Oct '98
GOD, in Mar '98, graced you to spiritually grow, from death to life Jn5:24 1Jn3:14,
having slowly fire purged you Zech13:9 Mat3:11 1Pet1:7 Rev3:18, 21yrs of Rom6.
GOD, in Mar '98, graced you to overcomer level 1Jn2:13b; 3:9; 5:4 Rev2; 3, but you fail
to use His overcoming power to witness His agape level of love to others Jn15:10 1Jn4.
GOD has proved His true gospel to you, but you fail to share even the basic message
as to: obedience... into born again, into born of Him, into soul salvation, into life.
GOD expects you to VOICE His work of grace, love, power in your life to glorify Him,
why else did He bring you out of your past sinful life, if not for His glory?
GOD's promise is clear in Jn15, bear fruit or produce true disciples Mat28:19,20,
or face His wrath for disobedience, it is your choice, He cannot lie 1Pet1:25.
GOD in Paul warns us, share the truth or woe 1Cor9, ever submitting or obeying
His commands to retain our spiritual walk Rom8 Heb6; 10; 3:6,14 1Jn3:24.
GOD's word clearly puts your current status at risk, your present behaviour
betrays Christ, so heed His voice and diligently obey your calling.