Ask Father Paul 08/10/11
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few questions that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: I am a believer, but my life lately seems to have become one struggle after another. Health issues, financial issues, marriage issues ... you name it, I’m dealing with it. A good friend at my church tells me that if I just had more faith, I’d be “living in victory” instead of having all these struggles. I think I do have lots of faith, but the struggles remain. Where am I going wrong?— No Name.
Dear No Name: You are not going wrong at all, in spite of what your smug friend says. The Bible does not promise us (even those of us who have lots of faith) that we will never have struggles to deal with. Almost every major character in the Bible, even Jesus himself, had struggles to overcome. We live on a fallen planet, and the result of that fact is sometimes struggles for every single one of us ... the good and the bad alike.
Luke chapter 4 records that as his earthly ministry was just beginning, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into a dry and desolate desert where he fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the Devil. To say that this time was a “struggle” for Jesus would be an understatement, yet God himself initiated this struggle for Jesus for his own purposes. Other Bible characters had “struggles” too, the Apostle Paul with a “thorn in the flesh,” King David with deep sin, Moses with a lack of confidence. The list is way too long for the space I have here.
The simple truth is this, life is not always a stroll in a rose garden. It sometimes is a slog among thorns, rocks and steep hills.
Again, even the most godly among us can have struggles. Psalm 34:19 says, ”A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” More to the point, Jesus promises us that he, himself walks with us and stands beside us to strengthen us when we are in the midst of troubles. In Mark 6, Jesus sends his disciples across the Sea of Galilee in a boat. A terrible storm comes up and the disciples are in danger of drowning. Jesus walks out on the surface of the water to their boat to be with them in their struggle. Then he actually climbs in the boat with them and experiences their struggle himself. Soon the storm ceases and the struggle is over. God is like that. He is always with us in our struggles to under gird us and give us strength. Because of his great love, he even “gets in the boat with us” and experiences our struggles along with us. Then, he “delivers” us out of the storm.
Psalm 23 (in some of the most beautiful language in the Bible) underscores this truth that God is with us in our troubles and struggles. It says in part, “ ... even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
I’ve had storms and struggles myself and they are no fun. Know this though ... God is not punishing you. Know also that no storm lasts forever. You will come out on the other side ... a stronger and better man ... especially in your spirit.
Dear Father Paul: What did Jesus mean in Luke 15 when he said “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”? — Robert
Dear Robert: Salt is a natural preservative. It resists rot and decay in perishable things. Christians are to be “salt” in the earth, resisting the rot and decay of society. Christians who fail to do this have “lost their saltiness.” They are thus of no value to the Kingdom of God and are in danger of being cast aside.
Do you have a question? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Paul Massey is Pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Ga. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, Sacramental Congregation. You are cordially invited to worship with us this coming Sunday. Information is at: www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com