Friday, June 24, 2016

Ps. 66:11 -- Suffering and God as athletic coach

This, from Bill:

Ps. 66:11 is strong and, for many, hard to reconcile with their concept of God. It says, "You led us into a trap;  you caused us to suffer. (NET)" To understand it, it is helpful to look at the verses before and after.

    66:9 He preserves our lives
    and does not allow our feet to slip.
    66:10 For you, O God, tested us;
    you purified us like refined silver.
    66:11 You led us into a trap;
    you caused us to suffer.
    66:12 You allowed men to ride over our heads;
    we passed through fire and water,
    but you brought us out into a wide open place. (NET, Ps 66:9-12)

This is a great juxtaposition of concepts. In the heart of it is God as athletic coach or good father. He intentionally puts the trainee under pressure so that when real pressure comes, the person can withstand it and come forth victorious. 66:11 is really strong, "You led us into a trap; you caused us to suffer." In today's culture the goal of life is pleasure and comfort. In God's culture, the goal is strength and freedom. Some people say that it is unjust for God to cause us to suffer. This is either evidence that the Bible's depiction of God is untrue (since a good God would never do that) or that the God of the O.T. is cruel and should not be worshipped. Ironically, they would not say the same of  a drill sergeant at boot camp or of one of the coaches on "The Biggest Loser." There is an understanding in those contexts of the classic adage, "No pain, no gain." In the passage above, the difficulty the we press through is the very thing that produces victory. The suffering is the lesson that "preserves our lives and does not allow our feet to slip." (verse 9) And that, brings us to freedom; i.e., "into a wide open place. (NET, Ps 66:12)"

Over the last year, I've gained about 10 pounds. That has caused its own kind of suffering and, yet, I still have a very high opinion of ice cream. 

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