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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Many Paths to God

As I have spoken with many people and read about their journeys to God, I have come to realize the many paths that may lead one to God. One of the most frequent starting points for seeking God is emotional pain. The pain can be from the loss of a loved one, or from the scorn and derision of one close to you. It can be from perceived failure in one's life, or too many bad things that appear to have happened. The single common factor in any of these is great emotional pain.

I think there is a great misunderstanding about pain and God. Non-believers will say that seeking God during trying times is a way to make one feel good without really doing anything. Or, it's an excuse, a way out of the problem - give it to God, so it's not my fault any more. Or, it is just another way to run away. I don't believe any of these explanations for a minute.

If one reads the Bible, one finds that God frequently reaches out to individuals as they are suffering. I believe this is because, during periods of suffering, people are more likely to seek God and listen for him. In Psalm 51 we read "My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart." God seeks us out when we hurt.  

In the busy day-to-day noisy world where we live, God is drowned out by the tumult. When one is suffering and cries out to God, and their minds and hearts are receptive to the word of God, they block out the noise of the world. Thus, in 1 Kings 19:11-13, when Elijah was seeking the Lord, Elijah related "A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD--but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake--but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire--but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave." Elijah heard the Lord's voice in a whispering sound, in the quiet.

When you hurt, do not turn your back on God. Rather, pray. Be silent. Listen for God's word, and you will be healed.