Category Archives: suffering

God’s Love Doesn’t Negate the Possibility of Suffering

I’m currently teaching my way through the book of Mark in the New Testament  at my church. I want to pass along something about God’s love that many people seem to miss.

When Jesus was baptized, his Father revealed a big part of his heart by what he said. If I  had to imagine what God might say to Jesus in that moment, it would be something like, “I have called you to save the world. It will require all that you have, but I send you forth!” That’s a very functional message and it shows a bit of who I am: task oriented.

But to the contrary, Jesus’ Father wasn’t task oriented at all. He was very relational and affirming, saying:

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 

Can God’s Love Allow Suffering?

What’s striking to me is what follows:

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:12,13

​God immediately put Jesus in a place of suffering, isolation, and temptation. The mention of the wild animals just added to the scary and unpredictable nature of being in the wilderness.

It’s hard for many people to grasp that God allows suffering. In their mind, suffering negates the possibility of God’s love for them. They are convinced that if God loves them he will never allow them to suffer. When bad things happen they are quick to question and doubt God’s love, if not his very existence. Their faith rises and falls on their circumstances. They feel close to God when things are good. They feel far from God when things are bad.

​What we have to remember is that we live in a broken world. Someday God will set all things right. He will judge the wicked and reward the righteous. There will be no more death or sickness. All suffering will cease. Until then, his only promise is to be WITH US in our suffering, not rescue us from all suffering.

God’s Love Does Not Guarantee We Will Not Suffer

When Jesus walked the earth his healings and miracles were not guarantees that all believers would experience these things on earth. They were only a promise of the hope Jesus offered his believers who followed him to the end of time. His miracles were a snapshot of heaven to come.

It’s in these hard times that we see the reality of God the most. God wants to prove his faithfulness to us and have us prove to ourselves that, with his help, we can face anything.

Notice how the text above ends by saying that angels attended Jesus. That means they served him or supported him during his temptations so he could overcome the temptations.

It’s in these hard times that we see the reality of God the most. God wants to prove his faithfulness to us and have us prove to ourselves that, with his help, we can face anything.

If you are going through a hard time, trust that Jesus is with you to comfort you, guide you, and sustain you through it. He has even sent his angels to support you. ​

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Free Forty Day Devotional for Lent 2017

I’d like to give you a free devotional for Lent 2017.

I’ve always enjoyed following a devotional for the season of Advent and Lent. Short daily meditations help keep me centered on what’s truly important. For Advent: reflecting on how I can best receive the presence of God in my life. For Lent: reflecting on how God uses suffering to refine me into the likeness of Jesus as I wait for God’s resurrecting power to fill me.

Free Lent 2017 Offer

For this reason I want to offer you a gift of my book, Return from Exile, free on Kindle on Ash Wednesday as well as the two days preceding it. Return from Exile uses the biblical theme of exile to explore how God uses loss in our lives. Over the forty days I reflect on what causes exile, what we can learn in exile, and what it takes to return from exile to live a new, resurrected life.

I hope you will share this post to let others know about this offer. The book is also available in paperback at 30% discount here if you use the code: YHSMPH6T. You can also purchase it at full price from Amazon.com.

A Book for Those Struggling with Loss, Pain, Anger & Disappointment

Here’s what one recent reader said of the book:

This is an excellent book for anyone struggling with loss, pain, anger, and/or disappointment…While some self-help books wield bible verses like a club, Diederich offers them as search-light into the human heart and a gentle guide for constructive solutions . He does not condemn us for feeling angry, dissatisfied, hurt or in despair, but instead gives us a model for how to use these conditions as a tool for growth and perhaps even someday use the knowledge gained to help someone else.

I speak as a pastor/friend, wanting to help you out of your personal exile to reclaim the life that God has waiting for you.

Return From Exile is for Everyone

The reviewer above used Return from Exile to help them through a rough divorce. It will soon be used in a small group of cancer patients to help them deal with the many losses associated with the disease. Return from Exile is meant for everyone because we all deal with loss.

I hope you will share this special Lent 2017 offer with friends and family going through their own season of loss. Click here to download the book for free now.

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Overcoming Loss: a free book offer for reviewers

Have you suffered a devastating loss and haven’t known how to get your life Overcoming lossback? Whether it’s a divorce, a death, a health issue, a job loss…well, you name it. These can all leave you feeling like you’ve landed in “exile.” My new book was designed to help people in overcoming loss, failure, and personal setbacks.

What is exile? Exile is when life throws you a curveball and you end up in a place you never thought you would be. You feel stuck, like a beached whale, with no way back. Exile convinces you that life will never be good again.

It’s lonely. It’s confusing. And it’s painful.

But exile can also be a time of transition that opens a door from one season of life to the next. In “Return from Exile” you will learn that, whatever pain and loss you have experienced, it is not the end of your story. You are not finished. You are not a washout. Exile is merely a rite of passage: an intensive character-building workshop preparing you for a richer, fuller life…if you let it.

Read a Preview of “Return From Exile.”

I’ve created a short preview of the book that takes you through the introduction and the first five devotions of a forty-day journey. You’ll hear a bit of my personal story and get a feel for where the book is headed.

Click here to download the preview.  Answer the questions to rate the preview and request a free copy of the book in exchange for reviewing the full version on Amazon.com. I don’t know about you, but I rarely buy a book without combing through at least a few reviews. I’d appreciate your posting a review when you finish the full book. My book page should be “live” on Amazon.com by the time you finish the book.

I hope you’ll share this post with your friends, especially those who might be hurting right now.

I appreciate your willingness to be a part of the publishing process!

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The Gift of Cancer, An Unexpected Guest

the gift of cancerCan cancer be an unexpected gift? In my book, Out of Exile, I help people reframe their loss by showing how God might use it to broaden them as a person. When you are able to believe that good can come from evil you are able to return from “exile” and live a fuller life that blesses others. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you what my sister has come to call “the gift of cancer.”

Last year my sister was diagnosed with colon cancer and has been receiving chemotherapy for the last several months with very positive results.

One Qualifier

Before I share her thoughts on the gift of cancer, it’s important to admit that, if your life, or the life of a loved one, was ravaged by cancer, hearing it called a “gift” might be offensive. I understand and appreciate that. Everyone’s experience is different.

If my sister’s treatment hadn’t gone so well, maybe she’d have a different perspective. But I’m happy to know that she’s gained something from her cancer experience and not let it steal from her. I hope her words might encourage you. This is what she wrote:

The Gift of Cancer

In reading other blogs, I have seen that maintaining a positive attitude through our journeys is common of the bloggers and their followers.  On that note, I have rewritten a common saying on what cancer cannot do to what it can do for us.

This saying has been sent to me a couple of times over the past 8 months and they are posted in my office.
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot destroy peace,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot suppress memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot steal eternal life,
It cannot conquer the spirit. – Author unknown

There’s More To It Than That

I believe all these statements are true, but I also see that cancer has been a gift in my life.  I have chosen not to fight it, and be angry with it, but to recognize its gifts, be grateful for them, and then encourage it to leave my body.  So far, it’s been a good approach.

We are parting ways each day and I honestly feel it has left my body.  I am hopeful that the gifts it showered on me will remain with me the rest of my life and the cancer will not return.  I have chosen to rewrite the common cancer phrases in a more positive light.  I hope you can understand my position on why I choose to follow this journey:

Cancer can be a gift…
It can expand your love,
It can encourage hope,
It can enhance faith,
It can bring peace,
It can build friendships,
It can make new memories,
It can develop courage,
It can blossom the soul,
It can help me face eternal life,
It can inspire the spirit. – author – Diedre Kaye

No matter what journey we are following, whether it’s a loss of a loved one, a concern for a child, a tragic occurrence, depression, or any disease, we all need to keep the spirit of joy, love and gratitude in our hearts.  May we all look for those gifts every day that make us happy. Diedre Kaye

Good Can Come From Even Cancer

Back to Remy here. From my perspective, you can trust God to make good out of anything, even cancer. It’s the ultimate act of worship. Rather than focus and lament over what’s been lost, why not focus on what’s been gained?

Too often I hear people speak as if God owes them a pain-free life. Any pain is fought with bitterness and they resent God for allowing it to visit them.

But I never read that guarantee anywhere. I’m grateful that God is willing to walk with me through my pain and give me eyes to see the silver lining that exists if I look for it.

Bitterness will shut you down and close you off to all that’s good, even the healing you might be longing for. Gratefulness does just the opposite. I hope you might see the gifts in your life today.

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Seven Steps To Help The Hurting

hurting peopleI’ve been sharing the highlights from a recent series  on RelationSLIPS. In my last message I talked about how we often slip up with people who are hurting. Rather than offering words of healing, we often put our foot in mouths. So, I’d like to give you a brief recap of the advice I gave in this message.

When Bad News Happens

Imagine that a friend drops some big news on you. Bad news. They are getting divorced. They’ve got cancer. Their mother just died. Their teenager was just arrested for drugs. They lost their job.

…let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain.

It’s going to happen. Are you prepared? Do you know what to say?

Seven Steps to Help the Hurting

Here are seven ideas to help you know what to do and say (and not say):

  1. Listen without any distractions. Turn off the tv and your phone. Don’t let your kids interrupt. If you can’t avoid being interrupted, then tell your friend that you want to give them your full attention so you need to schedule a better time.
  2. Dial into their emotion. Bad news strikes at our fear of losing control. It might also undermine our sense of worth if the loss has to do with being rejected (divorce, fired from job, etc.). Dialing into those emotions will give you empathy for what your friend is experiencing. The pain isn’t just from the loss itself but from what the loss means for their future.
  3. Don’t share clichés, even if they are from the Bible. This is harder than it sounds. Profound truths will pop into your mind and so you might be tempted to think that God gave you wisdom for the moment! Probably not. Wisdom just listens. So don’t say any of the following: It’s all a part of God’s plan, God won’t give you any more than you can handle, There’s a reason for everything, You need to just let go and let God. When someone dies, don’t say; God takes the people he loves the most, or God needed another angel, or They are in a better place now.
  4. Don’t correct them, even if they need correcting. Sometimes your friends’ bad news is a direct result of their poor choices. Bite your tongue. That’s not the time to show cause and effect. It’s not a teachable moment, so don’t try. If you do, you might lose a friend. They will be waiting to see if you seize the moment to preach at them or love them. So love them. You might get a chance later to share your wisdom…if they ask for it.
  5. Ask people what kind of space they need to process their pain. Everyone’s different. What comforts one person, offends another. I’ve learned this as a pastor. It’s frustrating. I’ve found the best thing is to just ask people: How can I help you right now? Would you like to meet to talk or would you just like some space to process this on your own?
  6. Affirm your commitment to stand with them. One of the most powerful verses in the Bible is when God tells us that he will never leave us or forsake us. You see, one of our greatest fears is that we’ll be alone. Abandoned. Left to face the world by ourselves. So let your friend know that you will stand with them through their pain. It doesn’t mean you will agree with everything they do, but you will stand with them.
  7. Offer to help in a specific way. People often tell a hurting person; If you need anything, just call. Odds are, they won’t. They don’t know what they need. Having to think of something and then call you is just work. So identify a need and just do it, like, mow their lawn. If you know them well, offer to pick up their kids or shop for them. This will be a huge relief.

Hurting people are an opportunity for you to show God’s love in a powerful way. Don’t run from it. But don’t run to them unprepared either, causing a relationSLIP.

What are some other tips you might offer to help a hurting friend. Scroll to the bottom of this page to leave your comment.

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Jesus’ Suffering Offers Us Hope

I recently wrote about how to return from exile, that is, a time in your life where you got off track and life became very hard and lonely. I mentioned that you can end up in that place for a variety of reasons. It can be because you rejected God, made a bad decision, or had bad luck. But sometimes God actually calls you into exile. Jesus’ suffering informs us here.

Jesus' suffering

Called to Exile

Seasons of Suffering. What I mean is, there are seasons in life that you might be called to sacrifice for the good of others. Parents know about this. I have some friends who are serving their son who is battling cancer. There are men and women called on by their country to go to war. Or someone might be called to forsake a lucrative business career to serve others in a non-profit or ministry.

All of these people may find themselves in a place of “exile”: a place where they feel disconnected from the life they thought they would live and going without something or someone dear to them. Exile is a painful time that makes you want to give up on life.

Jesus is a perfect example of this kind of calling. He was called to suffer and die for the good of others. It’s interesting to see his reaction to his calling. It’s not what you might expect. Two of his followers recorded a time when he was overcome by the stress of his exile. One said that he was deeply grieved and overwhelmed to the point of death. The other one said that the stress caused him to sweat drops of blood.

Jesus’ Suffering Offers us Hope

I see three things about Jesus’ suffering that might help you through your time of suffering:

  1. Jesus’ suffering validates your suffering. When we suffer we often think that it’s wrong. Only bad people suffer or weak people suffer. We look around at other people and assume that something must be wrong with us. Suffering is for losers. I’m suffering. I must be a loser. But Jesus suffered. Not only did Jesus suffer, he struggled with it. He wanted to give up but he prayed for strength to continue. If you suffer or feel like giving up, you aren’t a loser. You are human. Jesus’ experience tells us that.
  2. Jesus’ suffering shows us that suffering has a purpose. One of Jesus’ followers wrote that his sacrifice made us perfect in God’s sight (Hebrews 10:14). The word “perfect” here means that we lack nothing in God’s eyes. When Jesus died, we were set right with God. We can quit working so hard to please God, and we can quit worrying that we aren’t good enough because we’ve been made perfect. 
  3. Jesus’ suffering tells us that good can come from exile. God took one of the worst experiences (death on a cross) and used it to restore humanity to God. God brought hope from fear, life from death, and restoration from devastation. He can do the same in your life.

    God brought hope from fear, life from death, and restoration from devastation. He can do the same in your life.

When Jesus prayed for strength, God immediately gave him what he needed to continue. I hope you will also ask God for the strength you need to continue and look for his comfort to see you through.

Question: have you ever seen good come from a time of suffering in your life?

Subscribe to this blog and get a free 60 page preview to my book STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

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Hard Times Reveal Strength or Weakness

You never know how prepared you are until you hit hard times. Andy Stanley makes this point in his book, The Principle of the Path. This is part three in a series on the book.

Hard Times Don’t Cause Problems. Hard Times Reveal Problems.

It’s true isn’t it? Hard times are revealing. Andy says that economic downturns don’t cause problems as much as they reveal them. When you are flush with income, it doesn’t really matter how well you save or invest. You can afford to run up some debt because you always have enough to make the next payment. No one really knows if you are financially responsible or not because there is always enough money to go around.

But turn off the cash flow and it’s amazing what you find.  Some people are able to whether the storm because they’ve developed a cash reserve. They aren’t overextended on credit so they don’t have many bills to pay. Others aren’t so lucky. When the money dries up they are in crisis. No reserves and heavily leveraged.

Warren Buffet said you never know who is skinny dipping until the tide goes out. Exactly. Hard times are revealing.

Death and Sickness Reveal Your Relational Path

I’m currently involved in a funeral preparation for a family in my church.  As I drove away from the hospital on the night of the death I was impressed with the level of support that immediately surrounded the family of the deceased.  I have another church member suffering a significant, life-threatening disease. They too have been pleasantly surprised at the depth of support they have received during this time. As hard as these two situations are, they both revealed something very positive.  Through the years they walked a path that cultivated strong relationships with quality people.

What Path Are You Following?

But not everyone is so lucky. The Principle of the Path is a warning that we are all on a path somewhere.  You might think life is good and you are headed in the right direction until you hit hard times. You might not have the money you thought you had. You might not have the friends you thought you had. You might not have the connection with God that you wished you had.

The Principle of the Path asks, if you hit hard times today, are you deep enough financially, relationaly, spiritually, etc. to not just survive but overcome?  Answer that question and then make the corrections necessary to get on the path that will help you thrive, even in the face of hard times.

Question: What have hard times revealed in your life? Leave your comment below.

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