Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Question of Pain...In Real Life

by Jim Dotson

Haven’t we all asked ourselves the question Patrick drew from the hat last week,  “If God loves us, why doesn’t he protect us from pain and suffering?” 

In November of 2003, I absolutely asked myself that question over and over again.   Perhaps you heard me asking it, because I screamed it a few times as I walked or ran outside determined to wake God up so he would answer me. 

Certainly my pain paled in comparison to the pain that many others face: broken relationships, health issues or the loss of a loved one.  Mine was simply being fired from the job that I had allowed to define me for 15 years – leaving me lost, confused, and afraid.

Apostles’ pastor at the time, Terrell Glenn, asked me a piercing question the afternoon of my termination after he sat and listened patiently as I unpacked the events of the day;  “Is this between you and your employer or between you and God?” Terrell went on to encourage me to keep my eyes and ears and expect God to show up and reveal himself in a new way.  He also encouraged Ann and I not to hide the pain and suffering but to let the church walk with us through it.

In the sermon last week, Patrick offered four options to consider regarding our belief and understanding of why God allows pain.  Based upon my story and experience, I cast my vote for Option # 4: God is good, loving and powerful – yet, God allows suffering for a higher purpose.  Actually, I am banking my life on Option # 4 and encourage you to do the same!

I learned that the pain and suffering was not what God wanted FROM me but what he wanted FOR me, and my family.  He clearly had a higher purpose and he allowed the suffering because he knew it was what I needed to cause me to grow in my knowledge and understanding of HIM.  God loved me too much to allow me on the path I was headed on – not that it was bad, but it simply wasn’t best.  God sometimes allows pain and suffering because it is the path we need to travel to experience his abundance.

One of the many lessons learned during this season was learning to receive.  I enjoy giving, but would rather be independent and self-sufficient, not needing to depend on anyone for anything.  God had to teach me to be a gracious receiver, to allow me to be a better giver.  Ann and I have never felt more loved and cared for than during these six years as our Apostles Family loved and cared for our family in such a beautiful way. 

I believe so strongly about Option # 4, that I wrote a book about it, Taking on Goliath.  No, I didn’t write it after last week’s sermon – but last week’s sermon certainly stoked my passion and excitement for the truth it.  In the Lord’s perfect timing, I will be doing a book signing this Thursday evening, January 15, 2015, at 7:00pm at Quail Ridge Book Store, 3522 Wade Avenue in Raleigh.  Beginning at 7:00pm, I will be sharing for about 30 minutes about the story behind my book.  Ann and I invite you to join us at Quail Ridge on Thursday. 

You may find my book of interest as you will know the cast of characters (the names of the “bad guys” have been changed to protect the guilty :) and enjoy reading about the love demonstrated through the Apostles Family.  Most of all, please pray that the book will be an encouragement to those who are suffering to run to God rather than run from Him!

Jim Dotson

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