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4 Things God Should Have Given Me

You bless us when we pray to You, don’t You?

In church, we’re taught to clasp our hands tightly, shut our eyes, bow our heads and pray earnestly for whatever we want. I think I score brownie points for attending Sunday service regularly and serving in different ministries—you know, music, children, and youth ministry.

Your Word instructs us to “. . . present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6) and “. . . he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). Now that’s a promise written in the Bible. Oh, in fact, You promised again in Matthew 6:33 that “ . . . and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Since You so kindly offered and promised, here are four things I want. I’m not sure why You had denied me of them for the past 20 years, but it’s not too late to give them to me now. Like, right now.

 

1. Talent in Music

You seem to have forgotten about this when You created me. While You gave my friends the gift of perfect pitch and the enviable skills of playing multiple instruments, I was stuck with the amazing ability of not being able to differentiate between different notes.

Okay, fine. You did give me the ability to play one instrument. But, seriously, the guitar isn’t that hard to pick up and so many other people can play more than one instrument. Can’t I just have one more musical talent?

Also, if You had made me talented in music, I could have been the next Chris Martin of the gospel music industry. Just think of all the melodious tunes I could have written and the many lives my music would have impacted for you. Better yet, there would be thousands of people at my concert praising Your name.

Doesn’t that just sound wonderful? It sure does to me.

 

2. An Abundance of Money

This is important. Do you know how embarrassing it is when I need to count the coins in my wallet at the end of each week to see if I can afford the additional ice-cream cone from McDonalds?

Now, if You had made me rich, I would be able to buy whatever I wanted without worrying about the price tag that comes with it. Too many clothes? That wouldn’t be an issue; I could just get another wardrobe. Not enough space? I could move into a huge house and not worry whether my king-sized bed could fit through the door.

I could even give to missions and help You grow Your Kingdom. I could sponsor pastors training in Bible school and plant new churches. I know, God, I should start giving now. But look, I’m not earning that much now, so You shouldn’t expect so much. I’ll definitely start giving when I earn more.

So just give me the wealth first, okay?

 

3. A Pretty Face

Wow, God, just look at that girl—her large sparkling eyes, high cheekbones, and beautiful smile.

Instead of making me look like that, you gave me slits for eyes and a round face. No amount of make-up can enhance my features or change the way I look—I’ve tried it. No matter how fashionably I dress, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not pretty. With a face like hers, I could wear rags and still look effortlessly beautiful. And that’s probably when guys will start to notice me.

Of course, it’s not about being complimented or being the envy of others. I just want to be pretty so that I can help Your people feel better about themselves when I dish out beauty tips on how to look prettier.

 

4. Intellect

You know that I’ve never been the one to ace all my subjects or top the class. I’ve always been comparatively slower in understanding concepts and learning new things. None of my teachers or friends has ever called me “smart”.

Honestly, God, I think that’s Your fault. If You had blessed me with wisdom like how You blessed Solomon, I wouldn’t have to struggle so much during classes and spend so many late nights cramming for exams. And I wouldn’t need to go for endless hours of tuition to catch up with the syllabus. Don’t You know how much effort it takes for me to walk to my tuition classes two blocks away?

And if I were smart, I would have been in a position to help my weaker classmates with their schoolwork. I wouldn’t need to be that annoying friend asking for help instead. You said it’s more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35); I want to obey You, okay?

I’ve said my piece and I hope You understand why I need all these things. Seriously, God, I have a tough life now. I know You said suffering produces perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4). But I’m not the “suffering” kind. I know myself better than You do.

Look, if You gave me all these things, I’d praise You every day and tell everyone of Your goodness. I mean, I could do it now as well, but wouldn’t You look so much greater if I had more when I praised You?

 

Editor’s Note: In case you were wondering, yes, this was meant to be a little exaggerated and tongue-in-cheek. Some of it is true, like the musical talent bit. But no, the author doesn’t always have McDonalds ice-cream cone every week. Still, there may be a couple of thoughts here that probably have crossed your mind before. Share with us what you struggle with and how God has been speaking to you. We want to hear from you.  

Is God A Killjoy?

Written By Tay Boon Jin

Boon Jin has been a staff with Singapore Youth for Christ for the past 16 years. She now serves in Malaysia—reaching children through the teaching of English.

Killjoy was the name of a low-budget horror movie made in the year 2000. The narrative is about a toy clown named Killjoy that a young man tries to bring to life, after his love interest is stolen by a thuggish gang member. But before the spell can take effect, the young man is killed. Eventually, Killjoy comes to life and starts to wreak horrific revenge on those who killed its master. Sounds exciting? Well, the movie was lambasted by reviewers as a “poorly constructed horror film” with some even saying it was the “worst movie”. To the makers of the film, the reviewers were probably the real killjoys.

In life, there are many people that we deem as killjoys. It could be the boss who always gives us extra work to do over the weekends or that one friend who for some reason or another, always cancels appointments at the very last minute. But to some individuals, there is no greater killjoy than God himself. Today, many blame God when joyful moments cease or when they fail to experience joy in their lives.

Regardless of where we stand, we can all agree on this fact: We regard joy, also known as the feeling of great delight or pleasure, very highly in our lives, and rightly so! After all, man is created to enjoy the utmost pleasure. Man is to take pleasure, and much pleasure for that matter, in his environment, his vocation and his relationships. After all, the Bible tells us that man was created to be in a lasting, permanent and satisfying blissful state.

Yet, consider this irony: today, movie makers make millions churning out plots that bring the audience to the edge of their seats by a sudden turn of events in an otherwise happy story. In the past, the tension would invariably be resolved at the end by a positive turn of events. But these days, a happy ending is no longer a guarantee. Some postmodern filmmakers choose to leave the audience hanging with a plotline that ends abruptly or ominously, placing the blame on God or fate.

Just like in the case of the moviemakers, perhaps we are the real killjoys, not God. What else could be the reason for our delightful moments being cut short or denied? Consider, for instance, moments where we take delight in wrong pleasures, such as when police storm in to raid a drug den the very moment a group of drug takers are high on drugs. To the drug takers, the police are certainly a killjoy but to a bystander, it is apparent that the drug takers are better off without that pleasure. Or if a man indulges in food and suffers a heart attack while gorging his 100th dish, would we say that God was the killjoy (for taking his life)? Logically, we would “blame” the man himself—it is a consequence of his own insatiable appetite.

In labelling God a killjoy or rather, the killjoy, we have made ourselves the measure of all things. Like Eve, the first woman created, we have defined our delight apart from the One who gave us life—the one who gave man the Garden, the vocation to rule over creation and the relationship to love one another. The psalmist says in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v. 11 ESV). God is the source of joy and it is pleasurable to God when His creatures are full of joy in Him!

On the contrary, we are God’s killjoy—if God’s joy could ever be killed that is—when we nailed Jesus Christ to the cross because we delighted in what we ought not to. The first Garden was beautiful and one can only imagine the true joy and delight Adam had. His first vocation was not toilsome as he exercised the authority vested on him to name the animals. The first sight of his first companion was a delight that led him to unite with the woman in one flesh. Within the safe boundaries God laid, the first man and woman could live, work, and play freely.

But the tension in the narrative was created when man failed to obey God’s instruction and rejected what is truly delightful—God Himself. The eternal union of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was mysteriously “broken” so that by the Son’s death, we may live. When we call on the Lord Jesus to save us from drowning in the sin of our delights, He pulls us to safety, because Jesus Christ took the punishment due to us. Now, He gives us life abundantly, to enjoy once again what God has lovingly given to us to enjoy.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

God is no killjoy. Instead, He affords us the greatest joy if we only believe and trust Him.

If God is good, why is there so much evil and suffering?

Written By Adriel Yeo, Singapore

This must be one of the most perplexing questions Christians face. The problem of evil and suffering is a thorny issue that has caused some to fall away from their faith, prevented others from coming to God, or discouraged some from growing deeper in their walk with Him.

When I started exploring Christianity, I had so many questions, including the problem of evil and suffering. I read quite a few books on Christian apologetics that attempted to address this question and grappled with the issue for a long time—and I still have questions.

For some of us, steering clear of the issue might seem like the solution, but I think it can be unwise to completely ignore this problem, because many of us struggle with it constantly. If God is all good (omnibenevolent) and all-powerful (omnipotent), He cannot possibly allow evil, can He? If He does, then surely He is either not all good or not all-powerful.

Philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga, Peter Van Inwagen, and William Lane Craig have presented a strong case that allows for evil to exist while maintaining that God is still omnibenevolent and omnipotent. Plantinga, in his “free will defense”, argues that so long as God grants free will to human beings, there will always be the possibility of man committing moral evil—in which God cannot intervene, for to do so would go against man’s freedom of will.

As to why God then allows free will, he argues in his book God, Freedom and Evil that it is possible for a world in which human beings have free will to be better than one in which humans do not. There can be no love in a world devoid of free will, for example, because love requires agents to make decisions voluntarily, without being coerced to. He explains it further:

“To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He (God) must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.”

Such a relationship between God’s omnibenevolence and free will could provide a helpful perspective as we try to understand why there is so much evil in the world. But it is still limited. Here’s the reality: while almost all of my friends whom I have spoken to about this are willing to buy into Plantinga’s argument, they still have issues. Intuitively, they just feel uncomfortable thinking about all the seemingly unnecessary deaths that are happening around the world. The amount of injustice doesn’t seem to make any sense, no matter what the explanation.

This has led me to believe that the issue is perhaps less of an intellectual problem, and more of an emotional one. The question about evil and suffering has no easy answer because it is not about logical possibilities or impossibilities. Rather, it is an issue of the heart—we want to understand why people go through various difficulties. In fact, to hear the cries of help and feel burdened is a good thing, because it reveals a side of our humanity. As such, I am not sure that any answer provided may be satisfying. A sweeping statement like, “It’s because of sin” may not help a person who is going through a difficult time.

Instead, as we ponder on why God is good and yet there is suffering, perhaps we can consider this: why is there a historical Jesus, and a crucifixion that is followed by an empty tomb?

When we look at the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection, we will see not a God who doesn’t care, but rather one who does and is determined to restore all of creation. That’s why He sent His son Jesus to earth to die for us on the cross, so that we would be forgiven of our sins, and raised Him from death, so that we have hope of eternal life.

Sometimes, I wonder, how many Christians turned to God because they were persuaded by how the Christian faith addressed the problem of evil and suffering through Jesus’ death and resurrection? For me, I became a Christian because I felt convinced by historical evidence for the resurrection, and at the same time, felt deeply convicted that I had disowned the God who had created all things. And while I continue to ask questions about evil and suffering, I’ve come to realize that I cannot make any sense of what is going on from my limited understanding and perspective. I keep going simply because of the truth of who Jesus is.

Personally, I think that if we focus solely on questions such as “Why me?”, “Why now?”, or “Why must this happen?”, we’re never going to make any sense of suffering, much less take any comfort in any solution provided. Rather, I believe that being a Christian means turning our eyes away from the “Why me?” question to the “Why Jesus?” question. He is the object of our hope.

We may never be able to fully comprehend this issue, but what we do know—and can take comfort in—is that God does care, and that the whole person and being of Jesus attests to this truth.

The question of evil and suffering will always tug at our hearts, and we will always struggle with questions regarding suffering. But we know that it isn’t because God doesn’t care. He does and He has taken action in setting the world right.

As N.T Wright says: “When we learn to read the story of Jesus and see it as the story of the love of God, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves—that insight produces, again and again, a sense of astonished gratitude which is very near the heart of authentic Christian experience.”

 

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