Suffering

A Dead Boy Brought to Life

God is revealing something of himself to us in this story and in similar stories. He does not act according to our expectations. There is much about God and his way with the world and with his people which is incomprehensible. There is much about God and his way with the world that is counter-comprehensible – it is the opposite of what seems to make sense. God’s ways with his people are often the last thing that you would expect. They often seem to be the opposite of making sense.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Ahab’s Sin, Elijah’s Prayer, and God’s Word

For a time, God was no longer speaking to Israel. That was a greater judgment than the famine. For as we read in Deuteronomy 8:3, “[M]an does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” We cannot live without bread. But at a deeper level, we cannot live without the word of the Lord.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Resurrection, the Gospel and the Christian Life

Read: 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Text: Verses 8-14

The Christian message is surprising and counter-intuitive in many ways. There are many things about it that are difficult to take. On the one hand, it is the most glorious message possible – a message of the forgiveness of sins, of acceptance with God, of eternal life, of the satisfaction of our deepest longings. But on the other hand, it is a call to suffering and death. Jesus himself tells us to count the cost. Jesus himself tells us that following involves self-denial and taking up our cross.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Living with Realism and Hope in our Time

The application for us as we face a new year is, “Do not be complacent. Do not take it for granted that you are not being pulled into the current of worldly thinking and worldly living. Think very seriously about your life and values and priorities in the light of biblical teaching.” One of the common themes of the best Christian literature on this subject is that the only Christians who will survive in the current environment are those who go deep – that is those who are serious about their relationship with the Lord...
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Life in the Spirit, Future Glory and God’s Everlasting Love

Read: Romans 8

An unsaved person, who is ruled by his sinful nature, sets his mind on the things of the flesh. A saved person, because of the work of the Holy Spirit within him, sets his mind on the things of the Spirit. This is an important self-examination verse. Indeed, this is an important self-examination section because Paul is describing the difference between a person who is not saved – that is still in the flesh – and a person who is saved - who is being changed by the Holy Spirit.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The (Apparent) Futility of Life

These verses draw out the implications of life under the sun if God is not in the picture. But they also describe what life can look like for believers when they feel that God’s way with the world does not make sense and that life seems to be nothing more than pain and futility.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

The Problem of Oppression

Jesus is God’s answer to the dilemma posed by the author of Ecclesiastes as he agonizes over the horror of oppression in the world. God sent Jesus to proclaim liberty to the captives and to set at liberty those who are oppressed. But Jesus went about fulfilling that mission in a very unexpected way. He did it by entering into suffering himself. He did it by being on the receiving end of oppression himself.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Comfort for the New Year (2)

God works all things together for our ultimate good. And our ultimate good is not a life of ease and this-worldly comfort. Our ultimate good is being right with God and growth in holiness and godliness. Our ultimate good has to do with growing in the knowledge of God and in faith and love and submission to God. Our ultimate good has to do with learning not to be overly attached to the comforts and pleasures of this life and learning to enjoy the greater and deeper pleasures of loving God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra

Truths of the Reformation (8) Luther’s Theology of the Cross

The terrible reality of suffering in the world makes it hard for some people to believe that God exists. If God exists and is good and all powerful, how could he allow all of the terrible suffering that we see in the world. The cross sheds light on this question as well. The cross was the greatest evil; the creature murdering the creator! And yet it was God’s way of bringing about the greatest possible victory. This is what God does. He does not operate according to human expectations. He pursues his purposes through ways and means that seem foolishness to men. And we must see suffering in that light...
— Rev. Jerry Hamstra