God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Monday Musings: COVID-19, Gratuitous Suffering, and God's Purposes

The last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll in many ways on every person. It has not really left anyone untouched. Many have had friends and family, if not themselves, in hospitals, barely clinging to life as doctors scramble to give them relief and a chance at recovery.

Rick Carr is one who found himself a victim of the virus, spent many months in the hospital and is still recovering from its effects today. As he could, he brought the readers of his blog along through the journey of pain, prayer, gratitude, and healing. You can read about it at his site Extreme Gratitude

A line in his post on healing and prayer made a profound point: 

"If this long, miserable process has resulted in others being helped, encouraged, strengthened in their faith, and praying like they haven’t before, then it has been worth it."- Rick Carr

Many people wonder how an all-loving God could allow them to suffer, even those who have followed Christ all their lives. The Apostle Paul states the purpose of our suffering in his letter to the Romans:

"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose."- Romans 8:28 HCSB

"All things." Not just the good things. Not just the enjoyable or fun things. "All things" includes the suffering that we endure. Most people have no issues with that part; however, they often think that the suffering is for their good. The profound point made by Carr above, that may be difficult to consider in the middle of our suffering, is that the "good" of Romans 8:28 may not necessarily be for us but for someone else

We, of course, are not the only one who "love(s) God: who is called according to His purpose." Numerous others are in that category, as well. It is very possible, if not probable, that the suffering that we endure is for the eternal benefit of someone else: whether that benefit is coming to salvation in Christ or coming to know Christ better. And please notice that my use of "or" implies only the minimum of one person's eternal benefit; multiple people stand to have eternal benefits that can include both coming to salvation in Christ AND multiple others coming to know Christ better. 

Now, let us back-track in the eighth chapter of Romans to the eighteenth verse: 

 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us."- Romans 8:18 HCSB

No matter how much suffering with a finite duration we endure (even all of it combined), it is overcome by a single good purpose of God's with an infinite duration. This means that your finite suffering is not gratuitous. There is a purpose for it, even if that purpose does not necessarily involve you. And a single infinite purpose is infinitely greater than all the finite suffering in the grand view of eternity. 

This can be hard to understand, much less accept, when we are in the pain of suffering. But we know that because God has been faithful in the past and that He is the same ("yesterday, today, and forever"- Heb 13:8), we know that God WILL use our finite suffering for the infinite good of someone who is called according to His purpose. 

This is not something that is merely hoped for, or blindly believed; it is something that is logically known- a trust that is grounded in the reality of who God is and the reality of what He has done. This is not a blind faith. This is a biblical and logical faith, a faith that demonstrates reason and purpose for our suffering, a faith that demonstrates how and why an all-loving and all-powerful God would allow so much suffering in our lives. 

For more on suffering and God please continue your journey of faith with these encouraging posts:

Elon Musk Finally Buys Twitter- Is Truth Now In Jeopardy?

Elon Musk
So Elon Musk has finally closed his deal with Twitter. We've been anticipating this purchase for quite some time, whether your anticipation of the inevitable change has been fearful or hopeful. Many people fear that Musk's purchase of the Twitter social media platform will bring a political change in the United States of America and, possibly, the world. They fear that elections in America will be affected due to Elon Musk's claimed dedication to "free speech" and lack of censorship.

It seems that those who fear Musk's claimed dedication fear it because they do not support it. Those who fear free speech and lack of censorship do so because they know that they cannot win in the public marketplace of ideas without suppression of contrary viewpoints, evidence, and arguments. It seems that they fear that they do not have enough logical, rational points to convince an educated and thinking public to accept their policies, so they must resort to fallacious and false appeals and suppression of counter-evidence and counter-points. It seems that such fear and actions are unfounded if those who exhibit this fear truly do have evidence and logic on their side. 

If Elon Musk is serious about free speech on his platform and serious about ending censorship, then let the ideas and points be heard. Let them be analyzed. Let them be judged. If you think people are judging incorrectly, educate them on the proper and logical way to judge. Be willing to be educated, yourself, and to change your mind when the evidence and logic point strongly in the other direction. 

Will free speech and lack of censorship affect elections in America and around the world? It certainly could. Where there is freedom of speech and freedom to hear and analyze points of view, outcomes have a chance to be different than if the public cannot hear, much less, analyze options. But that is nothing to fear, unless you fear a land that this governed by the will of a thinking and educated people. It is nothing to fear, unless you fear a culture and society that is shaped by the majority and not the elite few who control what information is given to the public. It is nothing to fear, unless you fear open discussion of ideas and the possibility that you may be found to be wrong. 

Quote from "Before You Hit Send" by Emerson Eggerichs- “We are free to reject the beliefs we deem false. But civil people do not have a right nor desire to hate those who adhere to systems of belief they find abhorrent. Civility does not mean we sanction their 'truth claims'. However, to bring them out of their false persuasions, we must show them love and respect. If we do not, we will not win their hearts. Furthermore, we sour them to what we believe. When we detest people, they will not listen from the heart to the truth claims of our faith.”

Of course, if the majority is truly wrong, then it needs to be demonstrated, and logical and moral efforts must be made to persuade the majority, not limiting freedom and censoring the false ideas. Limiting freedom and enacting censorship appears weak. If you have the true ideas, why use a strategy that appears weak when you have the strength of reality on your side?

In the Twitter world that Elon Musk claims to be intent on creating, for those who do fear a lack of censorship on Twitter and cannot defend their claims logically, a different strategy will be employed. Truth and falsehoods will be heard. But because both will be heard, they can be analyzed and will be freely accepted or rejected. Falsehood is now in jeopardy of more people on Twitter not believing it, but as a logical consequence, so is truth. Your claims and my claims will be in jeopardy on Twitter in the coming months and years if Elon Musk is serious

Those who wish to be free thinkers and not allow those with the loudest voice to think for them must prepare themselves to properly analyze the loudest claims that will come and be prepared to accept the truth even when it is not what you originally thought. We also need to be prepared to defend the claims that we believe to be true against both logical and illogical critique. No doubt that Twitter will continue to have plenty of illogical critique of ideas (even false ones), but if Elon Musk is serious about free speech and removing censorship from Twitter, then logical critiques and truth will soon be heard on Twitter once again, and users must prepare themselves to both deliver and consume tweets appropriately. 

Quote from "Time For Truth" by Os Guinness- "Truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it."

See the posts below for more on being focused on truth and using logic to judge the soundness of arguments presented.

Secularism: A World of Propaganda and Power

Secularism: A World of Propaganda and Power

Logic is a reliable tool of knowledge because it is grounded in the eternal nature of God. Humans have access to this tool because they are created in the image of God. If God does not exist, then neither does the reliable tool nor the access to it (even if it did exist). The world of being a functional atheist outside the privacy of our homes (secularism) is a world with no knowledge and only propaganda and power. 

There is a concerted effort to remove God from the public consciousness of America. If God is removed, then there is no higher moral authority by which to judge one party as moral or immoral, and no foundation on which to challenge the party in power. 

While it seems that American politics is increasingly being characterized by secularism (regardless of which political party), it is important that we consider this trajectory when we go to the polls in November. If God is removed from the consciousness of America, there will never be an end to the power struggles among those who disagree until one has so overwhelmed the other that there is no discussion or intellectual debate allowed publicly or privately; even the implication of a challenge to those in power will be punished. 

Quote from "Time for Truth" by Os Guinness - “What happens when we succeed in cutting away truth-claims to expose the web of power games only to find we have less power than the players we face? If truth is dead, right and wrong are neither, and all that remains is the will to power, then the conclusion is simple: Might makes right. Logic is only a power conspiracy. Victory goes to the strong, and the weak go to the wall.”

For more please check out these posts and books:

Human Depravity and American Government

Quote from "Time for Truth" by Os Guinness - “Few understand that the United States, because of the convictions of its founders, is a nation with a realistic view of evil embedded in its constitutional checks and balances.”

Human Depravity and American Government 

“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”- Malcolm Muggeridge

"Few understand that the United States, because of the convictions of its founders, is a nation with a realistic view of evil embedded in its constitutional checks and balances."- Os Guinness

It seems that both parties in America are increasingly attempting to execute their policies without the objective moral foundations and boundaries of God's character or the truth of man's sinfulness. The "separation of Church and state" has been misunderstood, and that misunderstanding has necessarily led to this result. Both parties' policies will, when unrestrained by the recognition of these two realities, result in the abuse of citizens and the destruction of the nation. The only difference in the abuse and destruction will be the direction from which the they come. 

"Like the physical universe, the moral universe is governed by unforgiving laws that we do not have the power to alter."- Frank Turek and Norman Geisler

Each party seems to operate on the idea that they are "God's gift" to this nation and cannot do or think any wrong. The lack of humility and lack of willingness to have intellectual discussions about policies in our nation's leaders is quite frustrating and even maddening. America's three-branch system was designed as a "check and balance" on such attitudes of those in power, for if there is no recognized moral authority above the government, then those in power will determine what is right and what is wrong for those they govern or dictate.

No matter which party "wins" in November, the American people cannot allow that party to undermine, override, or dismantle the checks and balances that exist in our governmental system. If we allow either party to do so, the depravity in the hearts of those in power will make itself known in painful ways. 

For more please check out these posts and books: