"When God Doesn't Make Sense"
by James Dobson
(Tyndale House Publishers, 1993, 209 pp.)

*Continued from last week

     In chapter three, he gives us a list of four principles (pages 39-59).  These are the principles he had learned over the years about God's working in our lives:

  1. God is present and involved in our lives even when He seems deaf or absent.

  2. God's timing is perfect, even when He appears catastrophically late.
  3. For reasons that are impossible to explain, we human beings are incredibly precious to God.
  4. Our arms are too short to box with God.  Don't even try it.
     The author tells hurting readers to expect confusing situations and to embrace them as opportunities for their faith to grow.  He urges readers to store their questions away for a future time and to press onward.
     God has created us with the capacity to enter into fellowship with Him through prayer and to ask Him for help in times of need.  However, he points out that God is not obligated to perform "on cue" for us to impress us or to give us everything we ask for.
     Dobson says everyone has a troublesome spot in his or her life that God, for whatever reason, refuses to take away.  He cited the example of the apostle Paul who prayed several times to have a "thorn" removed from his life, yet God just told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  The bottom line is that life goes on in a state of relative imperfection, and we must accept this reality.
     Dobson presents the biblical view that trials and suffering are good for us (Chapter 7).  Adversity can have either a negative or positive effect---depending on one's perspective.  Jas. 1:2-4 tells us that adversity develops faith.
     Many biologists have observed the "adversity principle" at work in the plant and animal kingdoms.  Habitual well being is not good for any species.  An existence without challenge takes its toll.  Among the examples shared the author points to the animals a zoo as an example of life without challenges.
     The adversity principle applies equally well to humans.  The suffering endured by the English during WW II produced great courage, unity, and strength.  Hard times often lead to emotional and physical hardiness, while ease can bring spiritual weakness.
     Many would usually blame God for the tragic circumstances in life, but often those tragedies are the direct result of sin.  The Bible shows a clear link between disobedience to God and the ultimate consequence of death.  James discusses what happens when a person allows temptation to lead him to sin; when sin is full grown it leads to death.  Sexual and other sins are brought about by our actions; God is not to blame for our disobedience.  "God is not against us for our sins.  He is for us against our sins.  That makes all the difference" (page 164).
     Dobson encourages people going through painful, confusing experiences to realize before the event occurs that "our trust in Him must be independent of our understanding. There's nothing wrong with trying to understand, but we must not lean on our own ability to comprehend" what God is trying to accomplish (page 198).
     In his conclusion, Dobson urges the sufferer to " 'Lean into the pain' when your time to suffer comes around, knowing that God will use the difficulty for His purposes---and, indeed, for our own good.  The Lord is very near, and He has promised that your temptation will not be greater than you can bear" (page 209).
(Review by Dr John Lim)
     Mr. Richard Chia, one of the members of BGST Council, was our speaker at Chapel on 28th August. He took as his texts Heb. 4:12-13 and 2 Tim. 3:16, and spoke about the Word of God and about the work of Scripture Gift Mission, with which he is involved.
     There was once a colporteur taking Bibles through a part of Sicily who was stopped by a bandit. The bandit told him he would have to burn all his Bibles, and started a fire. As he was about to place the first Bible on the fire, the colporteur asked if he might read part of it to the bandit. The bandit allowed him to do so, and the colporteur read out Psalm 23 to him. 'That's very good!' said the bandit, 'I'll keep that book.' So he set it aside. As he was about to put the next Bible on the fire, the colporteur again asked to read part of it out, and this time he read out the parable of the Good Samaritan. Again the bandit was much impressed, and kept that copy of the Bible too. The next passage the colporteur read out was the passage about love from 1 Corinthians 13. The bandit kept that copy of the Bible from the flames too, and so the two of them went on. The net result was that not one copy of the Bible was burned, and the bandit made off with all of them. Later the colporteur returned to that part of Sicily, and found that the bandit had in the meanwhile become a Christian, a pastor indeed, and was now teaching the Word that he had once wanted to burn.
     This story illustrates the life-giving power of the Word of God. It is sad that many preachers today prefer their own words (their stories, their accounts of their own experiences) to the Word of God. There is no substitute for the proper exposition and application of biblical truth.
     Hebrews 4:12 tells us four things about the Word of God: (1) it is God's Word; (2) it is living; (3) it is active; (4) it is sharp.
     The Bible is God's Word, breathed by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and with the same life-giving power that God's breath had when it entered Adam's nostrils (Gen. 2:7).
     The Bible is living and active; or alive and powerful. It is God's imperishable seed which has transforming power when it takes root in our lives (1 Pet. 1:23), cleansing us (Ps. 119:9), guarding our hearts (Ps. 119:11) and making us wise (Ps. 119:98). An example of this is the growth of the Chinese church in the last 50 years. When the missionaries were expelled from China in 1949, there were about 1,000,000 Christians, and the question arose Would they survive? They have not only survived, but have grown to between 70 and 100 million in number. Such is the power of God's Word.
     The word of God also has great penetrative power. It is sharper than a surgeon's knife and reaches the innermost recesses of our beings, exposing everything in us, even the parts which we manage to keep hidden from those who know us.
     And so it is important for us in our ministries not to neglect the preaching of God's Word, however much effort it costs us. Wherever we are ministering, from the pulpit, in the hospital, during home visits, we should be sure to minister God's Word to people, so that people are touched by the power of God's Word and not, for example, by the power of our personality or our persuasive words.
     This has been the philosophy of Scripture Gift Mission. SGM is now a world-wide organisation which distributes portions of Scripture in more than 900 languages. The aim is to make the Scriptures available in small, readable portions, particularly to those who have not heard it previously.
     Mr. Chia's talk concluded with a brief description of some of the more practical aspects of SGM's ministry.
     This week (4 Sep), the Chapel speaker will be the Director of Pioneers In Asia (Singapore).

     Next week (11 Sep), Mr Joshua Tang, Ministry Development Director of Trans World Radio will be sharing the works of TWR.
  1. CHANGE OF DATES. In view of the visitation by the Asia Theological Association, we will be bringing forward some classes.

  • BG214 (Thu) : 24 Oct -> 17 Oct (10-11.30am)
  • CH101 : 24 Oct -> 17 Oct (6-7.30pm)
  • BG112 : 26 Oct -> 19 Oct (1-3.30pm)
  • BG212 : 26 Oct -> 19 Oct (4-5.30pm)
  • BG214 (Sat) : 26 Oct -> 19 Oct (5.30-7pm)
  1. VISITORS. We are glad to welcome Dr Robert Newman, Professor of New Testament at the Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Dr Newman is also an astrophysicist  from Cornell University.
Wishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!

Ms Lim Bee Lum  2/9
Mr Lau Pak Soon  3/9
Mdm Loh Chee Yen  3/9
Ms Christabel Tan  3/9
Mr Barry Zhang  3/9
Mr Leong Weng Kam  3/9
Prof Teo Choo Soo  4/9
Mr Hua Chai Sing  5/9
Ms Loretta Lim  5/9
Mr Tan Boon Siang  6/9
Mr Errol Oh  7/9
Mr Quek Tze Ming  7/9
Ms Donna Lim  7/9
Mr Albert Cheng  8/9
Rev Louis Tay  8/9

Top | Home | Library | Archives | Email
Biblical Graduate School of Theology
4, Bishan Street 13, Singapore 579792
Last update 23 Jun 2005.
    Sep 2002