These are snippets of ideas from the book I am presently writing, Letters to a Modern-Day Job, which is one-part an autobiography on my dramatic fall from grace from an Ivy-League to losing everything – health, career and love life to incurable debilitating eczema and the most unlikely restoration far beyond what anyone could imagine; and one-part letters that I would have written to my former self to help him go through the most difficult years, the Abyss, where everything was at stake, who I thought God is, the will to live, what I should do with the distain I had for this world.
This post is for the people who are suffering to the brink of being broken, but also for those who haven’t got to that point but want to know the thoughts of a brother that has gone ahead in the journey of longsuffering and impossible adversities.
Dear sufferer, this is for you. I hope that revealing to you suffering in its another form, the form that God can use, that this suffering can “lose it’s teeth”, and we can have courage to traverse this season into the purpose and promotion on the other side.
I call this post Little gods, the Oven and Futility:-
Don’t fear suffering.
It may be mind-bendingly hard, it might put you in the uncomfortable place where all your presuppositions of life are challenged, especially when it doesn’t make sense.
You might be forced to go through it, but in God’s hands you don’t have to fear it. There is a crown at the end waiting.
But if you think you can be a god of your own construction, the “little god” who thinks his own potential is endless, while the creator God is finitely reduced to a set of ideas for you to take advantage of, than longsuffering has nothing for you. It will just embitter you because it prevents you from getting what you set your purpose to be – that the universe revolves around you, and pleasure and power are the only trophies that matter. Suffering is just an indicator of how deficit you are in the race to be that “little god”.
Put another way, I find that one person starts with the predisposition that they should be “little gods” they are already wanting to ignore God himself, because if one suspects God exists, they would realize that the grand story of life is central to Him and not to ourselves. Thus, when suffering occurs, it becomes convenient to view suffering to feed confirmation bias. The little god says, “Since God has to do good to me in the way I define it, regardless of how I feel about him (which is the attitude of a little god), suffering justifies what I already believed in secret… there is no God.”
But, if we dare to be humble for a split second, in the silent lucidity, suffering can produce revelations that even the highest of IQs might not fully realize.
Those that have the humility to suspect that there could be a God central to the universe, that a grand purpose outside of us exists, suffering might do the opposite. Suffering exposes how limited we are – ourselves, the people around us and the physical universes. Saying humans are limited is anathema to today’s new age ideas that we are “small gods”. “My potential is endless”, I heard many untested teens say. But seeing clearly the boundaries of our human limitations is not a bad thing, because it allows us to know where we end and where the true God must be. The more intense the suffering the more those limitation boundaries have a chance to surface hidden beneath our own unjustified egos and unproven ideas. Only when we can clearly see our own limitations, we have a chance to know where we end and where the transcendent, like God begins. Just because God is “invisible” to the naked eye doesn’t mean we can’t find him. The reality of life is like a jigsaw puzzle. If we know where the boundaries of the other pieces that we can see are, then we know God must at least exist in the rest of that space, even though He overlaps on everything else.
Those who hardly suffer live may living in a kind of existential bliss and ignorance with a sophomoric understanding of deeper realities than thinking the universe revolves around ourselves. Their sense of their limitations are not hard boundaries but unclear regions of a large expanse like the probability of where an electron is in an atom, which can theoretically span to infinity. But in actuality it is God that is at the center of reality and His boundaries are infinite, not us. His reach and His purposes overlap and greatly exceeds ours. If we truly want to maximize our potential, the best we can do is to latch on to God and thus be part of that central story that already has a place for you, like the actors in most amazing stage play. For who knows what truly satisfies our minds and souls than the person that created us in His image?
Those that hardly suffer are busy building pleasurable achievements with themselves in the center, not questioning if there is something else the universe should be revolving around, because nothing is stopping them from doing so. Unbeatable sufferings force us to consider ideas that were once unchecked – those our sense of our limitation boundaries to go from that unclear probable range to clear and present. However, if those limitations are not clearly defined, it also prevents them from exploring God fully because the more they have been blissfully entertaining the notion how much they themselves might be.
When we stop trying to be “little gods” that’s when we are ready to actually know God himself and in so doing derive more meaning and become more much than our petty ideas for what a “little God” was in the first place.
Suffering is the like the heat of an oven. Like clay our souls can get bent out of shape and hardened by the fires. Though we might have no control over the fires, we do control who we ask to enter the fires with (Dan 3:24-26), who can more importantly, have the authority over those fires (Rom 8:28) so that we can have supernatural comfort in suffering (2 Cor 1:3) and what was meant to bent you out of shape might turn into something beautiful. (Gen 50:20)
Don’t condemn yourself if you feel mired by fatalism. It is natural to be fatalistic if you have really been a victim of large evils. (Job 3, Jer 20:14, PS 22:1, Matt 27:46) It is those who don’t have bouts of fatalism that I doubt ever saw the real ugliness of the world or have ever had their limitations shoved in their faces. Instead, know that fatalism will run its course, and when it has done so, God will be waiting for you and you will be surprised in a good way. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross guarantees it. (Rom 8:32)
Your future self.
PS: You’ll still be getting that babe you thought was cute 7 years ago. Years from now, when she sees all the work God has done on you, she’ll regret never being your friend.