Archives For suffering

The last 18 months have been a season of more struggles than my wife and I have seen in our previous 21 years of marriage. Not struggles in our marriage, mind you, but things like the death of a close family member, failing marriages in the family, family “issues” that seem to creep up on a regular basis and then of course, our son’s accident in December. We have never experienced so much pain, sadness and frustration as we have in the last 18 months.

Now, I do not write that because I want anyone’s pity. I don’t. In fact, for the last 20+ years of my life we have been fairly sheltered from having to deal with these types of things. So, starting with getting the word that we were being laid off, we have experienced things that I never thought we would have to go through. I have never struggled to have a job. Since we were married, we have never had to live with anyone else. We have not had a lot of death or divorce to deal with in our families and we certainly have never had a child almost die in a car accident.

There have undoubtedly been moments that I have asked God “Why?” “Why do I have to go through all of this? Why can’t I find a church to pastor, why can’t I do this or that? Why is my son having to go through all of this pain?” Those are all questions that I wanted answers to. Those are questions that we all would want answers to. I believe God knows that we want those answers. I was sitting in the hospital room watching Josiah sleep one night, just thinking and being quiet before God when I got an answer.

“Why not you, Jason?” And that was it. No other answers. Nothing more specific. Just, “Why not you?”

I thought about that for several days. I never expected to be immune for bad things in life. I never held to the thinking that if I was a good and performed for God that I would somehow have a magical life. But, I also never expected these things to “happen to me.”

We have learned much over the last several months. Though many of the situations we have faced are not pleasant, we have been able to walk through them, day by day, knowing that God was in control; knowing that He has a purpose and a plan for everything. I may not know all of the “why” surrounding these struggles but I do know that through everything that God says “why not you, Jason?” that He will use it to make His name famous. He will use my struggle to allow me to be more compassionate, more loving and to be able to help others because of what we have faced. I am thankful for that.

Just this morning, I read Romans 8:35:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”

No matter what we face, we are not separated from the love of God. In fact, our struggles make God’s love more real and evident. Verse 37 goes on to say:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

I am a conqueror because of the love of God. His plans and purposes advance when I ask “why not me” and I lean in to Him, and then reach out to others.

Whose fault is it?

Jason Petermann  —  December 27, 2010 — 1 Comment

There are so many things that go through your mind when you face circumstances in your life that are tragic. As I have read through the Scriptures I see that even Jesus’ disciples first thoughts when confronted with someone in a tragic situation was to ask, “whose fault is this,” or “why?”  I am not one who believes that asking “why” offends God or makes Him mad. I think it is normal and really I believe God even expects us to ask questions when we find ourselves in those tragic circumstances.

Jesus and the disciples ran in to a blind man in John 9:1-5.  He had been blind since birth, and as mentioned, the first thoughts of the disciples were to be able to have a reason, to understand why this horrible situation existed.  After all, if something bad happens, someone has to be at fault, right?  So they immediately thought that either the man who was blind, or his parents had sinned.  Some how, they had been so bad that God decided he would punish them by giving them a blind son. Their view of God was that of some powerful and demanding overlord that would punish you physically if you did something bad.  How awful to have those first thoughts of a loving and gracious God. Certainly God could do that if he pleased.  Certainly God has every right to punish those who sin.  But that is not how God works.

Jesus replied to the disciples request to place blame with another view of the situation.  He says in John 9:3

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

It was not a matter of sin on anyone’s behalf.  It was a matter of God wanting to do something that people would look at the situation and say, “Only God could have done that, it had to be a God thing.” When you think about it, how awesome is it to be someone that God chooses for His works to be displayed?

As we look at our circumstances with our son Josiah, we certainly would say that we wish we never had to face this.  I think as parents this is a normal thought, to remove pain for our kids. It is not our choosing; it is not easy. You never want to see your child hurting, even to the point of struggling to breath. Though we would take this from him if we could, we would also would stand here and say “this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  We believe Josiah is alive and will make a full recovery so that God will be lifted up and those that look at Josiah will only be able to say, “Only God could have done this.”

It is God that sends the rain that allows the harvest.  It is God that brings winter that turns to spring.  God is sovereign.  He is in control.  That does not change in the good or the bad of life.  We hold to that as we look at the works of God displayed in our family.

Struggle

Jason Petermann  —  December 4, 2010 — 14 Comments

As I sit in his room late this night, I see my son struggling.  Struggling to breath on his own, struggling to awaken so that he can see those around him. I see him struggle to be comfortable with wires coming out of places in his body that they were not meant to be.  I see him struggle, and I struggle.  I struggle with understanding why I could not be there in his place.  I struggle with wondering why God allows bad things to happen to good, young people.  I struggle with knowing that I cannot fix anything for my son.  Those are real struggles.  This is real life.  There are times when the struggle can overwhelm us and it is hard.

What I do not struggle with is knowing that my son’s life is in God’s hands.  In fact, so is my life.  I do not struggle with knowing that God still loves me, even though my son lies in this hospital bed.  I do not struggle with believing that God has a purpose for all of this, and that God is interested in how I respond during this journey.  He is making me who He wants me to be.  He is making Josiah who He wants him to be as well.  There is no struggle with believing that God is in control of all things, and that every detail of the situation that I find myself in at this moment was planned out long ago.  God works from the future back, so I do not struggle with believing God has already been to the end of this, and there is good that He has planned.

There is nothing wrong with the struggle.  It pushes us towards a loving Father that is there with His arms wide open to embrace us.  We do not wish for the struggle.  We would have a pie in the sky type of life that is a fairy tale with no struggle at all.  I would never have asked for this for my son.  But I would never take away the opportunity for God to work in His life or in my family through this struggle.  Pray we run into God’s arms and continue to find the comfort of His embrace.

2 Corinthians 6:7 “We have spoken the truth, and God’s power has worked in us. In all our struggles we have said and done only what is right.”

jesus-crossIt is Good Friday, and my thoughts are directed towards my Savior and the suffering He went through during this next 24 hour period nearly 2000 years ago.  As I sit here in my comfortable chair, drinking my coffee and listening to the sounds of a couple of my children as they go about their day, I am overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus did what He did… and that He did it for me.  Overwhelmed that God the Father would allow His Son, His PERFECT Son to bear the pain and suffer as He did. I am overwhelmed that by no merit of my own, the God of heaven showed favor on me by allowing Jesus to become sin for me… actually, it was more then that, He took upon Himself the sin of all humanity, so that we could come to God in a right relationship.

I am also overwhelmed, because even though God did all of this for me, I still sin. I am overwhelmed with the fact that Jesus shed His blood, yet I am still a selfish individual who chooses my way instead of His many times. I am overwhelmed to know that God’s plan is still to use me to love others and help them take their next step towards Him, even when all of my steps are not always in the right direction.  I am overwhelmed knowing, that with all of the good that I think I do, it is still not enough to merit the love that He pours on me every day.

I am overwhelmed…

A Good Reminder

Jason Petermann  —  April 15, 2008 — 1 Comment

I read the book of Philippians today. It is probably my favorite book in the Bible. Every time I read it, I am reminded specifically of two things:

1. That Christ Jesus showed what true humility in coming to this earth, living a Holy life ( what an example for me), and then going to the cross on my behalf. (chapter 2:5-8)

2. My happiness is found is so many things out side of myself. I may go through rough spots here and there, but if I get my focus off of me, and on things that bring true joy I can then live life to the full.

Paul tells us in this book that he finds joy in several things: others (the Philippians themselves, chapter 1), sharing the the gospel (Chapter 2) and God Himself (Chapter 4). He then goes on to explain that he has learned to be content! WOW! Contentment, what is that? It is a foreign word to most of us in the good old USA. But Paul says rich or poor, sick or healthy, respected or not, he had learned to be content, because his sources of joy were outside of himself. What a great reminder for me today. Thanks God!