Suffering With THE CALL™

“Don’t tell God you don’t want to do something because that’s exactly what He’ll call you to do.”

For all of their horror at the asceticism of other Christian sects, fundamentalists are often fascinated with the idea of suffering for Jesus — and God is evidently only too happy to oblige them. If a fundy admits to hating hot weather, God will inevitably call them as a missionary to the tropics. If the hate cold, they’ll go to Alaska, and if they hate eggplant they’ll end up in New Jersey. It’s inevitable.

In fact, your only real hope of getting THE CALL™ to a place or vocation that you like is to psych God out with some reverse psychology. “No, Esther, I hate the beach and being rich and being able to process lactose!” It’s a long shot but maybe you’ll end up loving life if you pretend to hate it enough.

Some fundies are so obsessed with receiving THE CALL™ to suffer that they are not suffering enough they think they’ve missed God’s perfect will and may very well go out and find some way to inflict some pain (or at least few minor irritations) upon themselves so they can earn a martyr’s crown. Soul winning and street preaching provide ample opportunities for this. Volunteering to direct this year’s God and Country cantata provides even more.

Suffering is a good and righteous thing. As long as you’re doing it any time but during Lent, that is.

119 thoughts on “Suffering With THE CALL™”

    1. Suffering is a good and righteous thing. As long as you’re not doing it any time but during Lent, that is.

      It pains me to say that I still suffer the delusion that if I’m enjoying something too much, God may very well take it away from me. 🙁

      1. My old pastor told the story of his class ring, a ring he was very proud of. He would hold the pulpit in such a way that the ring was always up front. So God made him lose the ring to fix his pride. (Or, you know, he just misplaced it, or his wife pawned it, or something mundane.)

        So yeah, don’t enjoy something too much, because apparently God is sometimes indistinguishable from The Borrowers.

        1. Wait a minute. I heard a preacher tell a similiar story about a dear and treasured ring. I think the story was that he lost it on a beach, was disheartened but someone found it and somehow traced it back to him.
          I don’t suppose that was a “made up” story? Nah, it couldn’t be. 😆

        2. When Jim Vinyard was our bus director (at HAC) he preached that he loved his son too much and God took him. It literally scarred my husband so much that when we became parents he was afraid to love our son. That was over 30 years ago. Many many regrets over that.

      1. LOL! We loved it! A few years later though we relocated to a cold, dark, depressed city – I guess now we’re legitimately “suffering” for God. (sarcasm)

  1. My last pastor in fundyland had this perfected and he inflicted it upon all that he could influence. His countenance and attitude toward all clearly showed a man very unhappy with his life and where it has ended up. I supposed it to be a coping mechanism since he was stuck in a system he promoted but made him so unhappy. He worked at the church constantly and pushed everyone to do the same. Nothing else mattered because “it will be worth it all when we see Jesus”. Work hard for God and sacrifice all here on earth and heaven will be sweeter.
    This appealled to my personality for several years. Then one day I began to realize I NEVER had any fun. Life was just labor under the sun. We all need to carry burdens and yokes as christians. But Jesus told me my burden would be light and my yoke easy as I follow Him. HE is right of course. I take time to just hike and look at God’s creation and try to help folks as God leads and be the person God wants me to be.
    Man’s religion is always trying to pay back or pay off God. It NEVER works. We are simply not able. So just love God and do something HE wants you to do today. I think I’ll take my boys out on a canoe and share creation with them 🙂

  2. To this day, I STILL have reservations about praying for something I really want, because the leftover fundy in me makes me afraid that I won’t get it.

    Then, I remind myself of Phil. 4:6.

    1. Natalie,
      I SO hear you! I can’t tell you how this post and its illogical logic was a deep part of who I was. I would literally refuse to say what I could absolutely not handle if asked to do for Jesus for fear God would place that Call ™ on my life.
      Just to prove I am over that…I could NEVER suffer for Jesus on a hilltop cabin in the Smoky Mountains not far from great shopping while jetting of to a tropical paradise in the months of Dec, Jan and Feb. Just couldn’t do it…

      1. I’m with you IAHB. I ABSOLUTELY could not handle a luxury house on stilts in the waters of Bora Bora amid the mountains nor could I stand a world cruise in the largest suite onboard. I just couldn’t bear being burdened with countless karats of diamonds or having to never again draw my own bath, do my own hair and makeup, and never cook or clean for myself again.

        Just couldn’t handle it. Not at all.

    2. Sigh. Yeah, I hear ya. I got a little tired of praying, “Hey, Lord, you know this singleness thing? If it’s not too much trouble, do ya think we could take a little break from it?” and nothing changing.

      Of course, it would never occur to me that it might be because I don’t ever really get out and am a smidgen awkward sometimes… not to mention I look like I’m in my late teens, which I think triggers some sort of “little sister” feeling. Then again…

      Oops… digression!

        1. Aww, thank you! I’m really glad someone got something out of it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made an observation (i.e. “Seriously, if you’re at your computer, how much harder is it to type “you” instead of ‘u’?” but more politely) and had people jump all over me for saying it. Sigh.

        2. ^Amen!^ Once upon a time I mentioned lol being annoying when used in such a manner: I just finished my English test lol, on a Facebook status………. and the commentage was intense and full of don’t judge mes….. 🙄

    1. Cockroaches are the least of Florida’s problems. I live in the National Forest and have had alligators, raccoons, snakes of various stripes and colors, bears, dear, wolves, fox…Then there are the mosquitoes, the love bugs, spiders…

      1. I live in the suburbs of Orlando and still deal with most of the same critters. We have foxes, bobcats, coyote and bear in our neighborhood. Not to mention Sandhill Cranes that peck at cars and block traffic. So even out of the forest we can’t escape the wildlife. ❗ Oh, even found a snake in the house, and a rattle snake in the yard the next day. Ick.

    1. I actually heard one preacher claim that nowhere in the bible is it recorded that Jesus ever laughed but it is recorded that He wept. I wanted to remind the guy that it isn’t recorded that He ever went to the toilet either, but I would probably been consigned to Hell.

    2. They forget all the passages that tell us to rejoice in the Lord, and that he has given us richly ALL things to enjoy.

      Oh wait, those are Paul’s epistles, we don’t preach from those….

  3. My husband and I are have been distressed for all 13 years of our marriage that we did not receive “the call”. We feel that we have no purpose in our Christian life. 🙂

    Of course there are always those pesky daily tasks like shepherding our children and loving my husband and my husband loving me and loving our fellow neighbors etc…. Yawn….yawn… 🙄

    Those are just too hard. That couldn’t be what Christ has called us to do if we have a family, could it? Is that how I serve Him?

    naahhh, let me go pounce on some unsuspecting sinners and tell ’em to “git right with Gid”. That’ll stroke my ego and make me feel better.

    1. I love this! My pastor always says…There’s nothing sexy about what we do. We love God, love others and read God’s word.

      It is so funny how we are always looking for what God calls US to do. Its been in Gods word all along. I think we get disillusioned and begin to think its about us.

      Just an opinion but I think we use ‘The Call’ as an excuse. “I can’t go there because God hasn’t ‘called’ me there. When you read the Bible there aren’t too many times that God specifically calls someone to a certain place/vocation.

  4. *forget twitches, full blown seizures*
    Stuff like this is why I tended to picture God as a this looming, angry, menacing presence ready to pounce on any enjoyment of anything and replace it with suffering, for my own good of course. I couldn’t buy into the whole reverse psychology thing because I knew that God knew what I knew … And to think I sometimes wondered why I was so afraid of God, and was quite honestly terrified of dying because it meant spending eternity with such a God. I spent so much of my Christian life trying to be invisible to God, you know, not so bad He would chastise me (Heb 12:6) not so good I would be “a great saint counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake” (exact verse found only in the MOGs special edition KJVO bible) Even now that I have learned what grace really means, I still have a hard time picturing God as loving. That He might actually find joy in my enjoyment of life is such a foreign concept, my head believes it but my heart still cringes waiting that “gotcha” moment.
    Sorry to carry on so, it just this kind of teaching nearly destroyed my faith and even now the toxic effect linger on, casting shadows of doubt and fear on my new found joy and peace in God’s incredible grace.
    *tiptoes off soapbox 😳 *

      1. DL, I don’t know if you have or have access to kids but just watch them sometimes. As the father of 5 and grandfather of soon to be 13, I get few joys greater than seeing my kids or grandkids having fun and enjoying themselves. I kind of think God is like that. Just a thought. :mrgreen:

  5. Reminds me of the song “Please Don’t Send Me to Africa” by Scott Wesley Brown. Visiting missionaries always made foreign countries sound like dangerous places where evil was lurking around every corner. I always did want to go the Philippines, though, because our missionaries there were really cool and actually spent time getting to know our family and other families in the church, and dispelled my fears of leaving the US. LOL I finally did get to go and loved it.

    1. I was a missionary overseas. I went to a first-world country with great food, friendly people and an intriguing national history. Living there is one part of fundydom that I do miss! 😆 😆

      However, people in fundydom assumed that I lived in a place full of witch-doctors, rampant poverty and disease. 🙄 🙄

      1. The latter does make for more fun with “Suffering For JAY-zuz!” stories just full of (generally overblown) dangers, and neat slide-shows. I recall several from Africa, complete with native relics, at my old Fundy school. :mrgreen:

  6. Wow this is really familiar. I remember hearing many testimonies from missionaries and the like talking about the ‘one’ thing they didn’t like and that was where God would send them. Then I’d hear sermons about how you shouldn’t shut the door on anything because that is the door God just might open. So yea growing up I thought, “maybe I can psych God out.”

    Of course I think the entire idea is completely bogus. God doesn’t call you to be miserable. Oh to be sure you might be close minded about something and you figure out with time that you actually enjoy that, but if you truly don’t like something that *is not your calling.* God is not some evil manipulative person who sits from on high to make you as miserable as possible.

    If you love the city that doesn’t mean that you now have to live on the farm. If you love out doors that doesn’t mean God is calling you to a city. For me I say go with what you like. Follow those feelings, because maybe, just maybe that is what God is calling you to.

    1. God made us all different. Some have musical talents, and some do not. Some are great with kids, and some are not. It would not make ANY sense for God to assign a person who absolutely detests working with kids to be a missionary to children, just so that person can “suffer” for Christ. When you enjoy something and have a natural inclination towards it, you tend to be BETTER at it! Wouldn’t it be so much more effective if people were actually in “callings” to which they were perfectly suited, rather than being in vocations where they are miserable and ineffective?? The fundies love to imagine God as this dark, looming being, just hovering over us ready to strike us down an manipulate our lives for his amusement.

      1. God actually calling you to do something you ENJOY?!?!
        Oh come on, what’s the fun in that? 😛
        Remember: as long as playing piano is only a duty then you’re doing it right. The minute you start to enjoy it, let alone show real talent STOP IT AT ONCE!

  7. I try to balance the fundy view of suffering with a realistic view of scripture that notes the probability of suffering in our lives. Some problems with the fundy view.

    1. When I suffer for being a jerk or being stupid, it is not suffering for Christ.

    2. When my suffering is self-caused, it is not suffering for Christ.

    3. When I count people disagreeing with me as suffering for Christ and therefore refuse to give them any kind of scriptural or logical basis for my belief, it is not suffering for Christ.

  8. I really hope God doesn’t call me to someplace like Costa Rica, or tht Virgin Islands, or any other place tropical. I really hate the beach, the gentle sea breezes, the warm temps, the swaying palm trees. It would just about kill me to have to suffer in a place like that.

  9. “and if they hate eggplant they’ll end up in New Jersey.”

    so THAT’S why I ended up in Jersey! God wants me to eat the eggplant parmesan which I don’t like…. 😯

  10. I do recall growing up with that idea, however my parents actually believed the exact opposite. If ANYTHING went wrong or wasn’t perfect, they just weren’t in God’s will. They made a mistake.

    For me, I just think about what Frederick Buechner said in Wishful Thinking – The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

  11. Misery = godliness
    Circumstances = righteousness
    Appearance = spiritualness

    Fundie logic Regarding the Call: if your circumstances don’t appear to be miserable then you are not spiritually right with gid.

      1. Oh no, not griping. It is a passive/aggressive form of prayer request.
        See, I’m telling you how miserable my life is so you will know how humble I am for (1)one and (2)two you will better know how to pray for me. 😉

      2. Whoa, I have been a presby way too long! I didn’t even see the passive/aggressive prayer request!

        The mind games were relentless. I remember why I felt so tired all the time.

        You are a trained Jedi in Fundy psychological warfare.

        1. Do or do not is my motto.

          Last comment on griping a.k.a. “making prayer requests known”… how will anyone know how much a martyr you are unless you tell them?? 😯

  12. This is spot on. I remember when I first met missionaries who were in their native country and super happy about what they were doing. They were so unusual. They weren’t suffering or pouting.

    “Beware of telling God there is somewhere you won’t go. That’s where He’ll CALL you to.” Makes God sound like an all-powerful jerk.

    1. Trufax. When my husband and I moved from Greenville to PA, I said, “I’ll never live in Greenville again.”

      Guess where I’ve been living for the past 20 years? (And loving it, btw.) :mrgreen: 😉

      1. Thank you for noticing that Greenville/Upstate is actually a decent place to live. . .I barely notice anymore that BJU is here. I work in downtown and live in Easley, so I rarely go near the campus, except to visit the in-laws in Taylors. My wife and I don’t really want to live anywhere else, except maybe Germany.

  13. Thank you for this post. Just yesterday, I was driving home from town, praising God for all his blessings. And then fear crept in, and I started to think that I must be doing something wrong, because Christian are supposed to suffer. I started to shrink inside–waiting for God to strike me down. But the TRUTH is…

    “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tm. 1:7)

    “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” (Ps 10:11)

    “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5)

    “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rm 8:1)

    And not that Christians don’t ever suffer, but God doesn’t sit around thinking of ways to make us miserable. He delights in our praise, and gives us joy and peace and blessing. Also, Christ has taken the punishment for our sin.

  14. Fundy dies and goes to heaven. Everything is ideal. Fundy crawls into the furthest corner, sits down clutching knees to chest, shivering, and spends eternity dreading the moment when it all will end.

    1. How many Christians sadly refuse to embrace joy but live in fear because they have not fully comprehended the love of God and have not found rest in it.

      1. Fundies have a messed up view of God. He’s the God of the Old Testament with fire and brimstone! If you are not dirt poor and suffering, he’ll make sure you are – sooner or later – because that is the center of God’s will!

    2. This is absolutely bone-chilling, but I know the truth of it. Fundies and many evangelicals have it drilled into them from childhood that they’re not worthy.

  15. “Don’t tell God you don’t want to do something because that’s exactly what He’ll call you to do.”

    This post is SO true! I spent many years trying to psych God out, as someone else said above.

    I also believed this about spouses … I met this guy and was sort of dating him, and I didn’t really like him, so I became CONVINCED that it was “God’s will for me to marry him,” because I was always hearing about how God had picked out my spouse and I was sure he would pick out some awful strict person I didn’t want. Then when I met my wonderful husband, who is funny, sweet, handsome, a wonderful Christian, and definitely non-fundy, I was so worried that I wasn’t supposed marry him because I really wanted to. Talk about messed up.

  16. Suffering is a good and righteous thing. As long as you’re doing it any time but during Lent, that is.

    Burn. 😀

    I know people who trot out passages from St. Paul’s epistles on their Facebook every year during Lent. I can’t remember which they are in particular, but they say that anyone telling you to abstain from certain foods is a false teacher. Fundy logic, ipso facto, sees this is St. Paul zapping Catholics and their Filet O’Fishes from beyond the grave. Unfortunately for them what St. Paul was actually addressing was not temporary abstinence for purposes of meditation and spiritual discipline, but vegetarian-ish mystery cults common in his day.

    1. I give up fish for lent 🙂 By the way, when is lent this year? I love fish and don’t want to accidentally partake of it during the season. 😥

  17. If you can add the cantata to directing the VBS, in addition to brightening the corner where you are, you get extra points for dealing with those *shudder* bus kids who will show up for VBS.

    I worked at America’s Keswick for two summers while I was in college, and two of the college women who worked with me spent part of the summer praying for God to afflict them. IMHO, life has enough affliction without hunting it down, but what do I know?

  18. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but my ex in-laws really really preferred their missionary post because they actually lived a better lifestyle there than they ever could in the states. I’m not saying it wasn’t a hard life with tons of work, but as far as standard of living? Sweet!

  19. this is by far another excellent post. I know this comment does not really fit maybe someone can tell me if a thread was already exist on the topic of Gods Blessings. Having said that when I read this I was reminded:

    One thing that really bothers me about “Fundies” is the emphasis they place on children being a blessing. Yes they are, I know it. But they are not the ONLY blessing as many fundies make you feel. It took a long time for my wife and I to have kids. Was God not blessing us cause we did some crazy sin we may not have been aware of. Just something that drives me nuts…thanks for listening to a rant.

    1. This is of course time limited, as all teenagers are potential juvenile delinquents who must be watched night and day to keep them away from the slippery slope. Did I just see her skirt flip above her knee while she was walking down the street? Oh the brazen hussey!

      1. Oh The Slipper Slope (TM) Yes, I now that logic well. I was told if I left Mecca that I would be 1. divorced within 6 months. 2. Part of a Liberal seeker friendly/ bobs coffee house type of church church. 3. My children gone to the devil.
        Its a slippery slope, oh yes it is…One minute you are wearing a skirt, reading the KJV, next minute your kid has Justin Beiber hair and your drinking lattes with your small group, while worshipping to Chris Tomlin music with guys who lead worship and wear skinny jeans… 😈

        1. PS. ..Checked out every church there is out here in the wilderness.(There would be like..umm..3 in the a 50 mile radius) Would do just about ANYTHING to find a strong, authentic, real small group setting and solid church like the one you attend. So …no. 🙁 There are days when its the hardest part of my journey. I don’t do isolation well.

  20. I grew up with this too, although we weren’t technically a fundy church. We really were raised to believe that if things were good, something was wrong. Probably just because we were a bunch of broke farmers, but I don’t know for sure. It’s sad too, because there are people who are actually suffering for Christ that would shame anyone in America, no matter how bad off we are.

  21. I always hated when missionaies came, because I felt called to go into ministy – but I didn’t want to go to Africa. It wasn’t until I left fundyland that I discovered that God calls us to ministry right where we are.

    I have a fundy aunt who hates it when people thank her for something, because it means that she has already received her reward, so God won’t give her the big shiny crown.

  22. fundyism in a nutshell: what’s up is down, what’s down is up and the minute you think you’ve got it figured out, you don’t. Magical thinking and circular logic. Its a cult.

  23. “I think the entire idea is completely bogus. God doesn’t call you to be miserable.”

    Definitely.

    Why do we need thousands of miserable Americans spread around the globe ‘teaching people how to get right with God and find fulfillment in Christ?’ 🙄

    I was NOT ‘called’ to Russia in 1994. I had no particular interest, no ‘urging of the Spirit’, no ‘burden.’ 😆

    I was willing to go, and at 18, was looking for the next step in life.

    I was invited, and I went. Period. Through that first 9 months, God gave me a love for that people, culture, and country. However, I also think a willingness and desire to learn had a lot to do with it.

    I never could understand my cohorts whose outlook was ‘what a backwards, miserable place! Can’t wait to get back in the Good Ol’ US of A! Maybe God will use ME to save some of these poor Russkies first, tho.”

    To this day, after having spent most of the last 17 yrs of my life in Eastern Europe, I just don’t get ‘The Call To Be Miserable.”

    If someone says “well, yeah, I’d rather be in The States, but I know God has Called me to be here,” I always have a question about that there call.:razz:

    I think God is more than able to give you a love for any foreign country if he ‘has a use for’ you in that country.

    It actually took me a long time to get even semi-comfortable with people calling us ‘missionaries’. 😆

    1. It seems to me that having missionaries trying to save their souls while being miserable and complaining about how they wish they were back in the States would be a major insult to the native population–and a major turnoff from Christ.

  24. You know, I finally figured out “the call” in my last year or two in fundy-land. It is a get-out-of-jail-free-card for any situation that isn’t working out. My former in-laws were called to about a dozen places over an 8 year period (think about that one for a second.) That was when they were in the United States. But then they got the call to serve in a Central American country and low and behold, they have been there over 20 years now. So you get how that worked, right? No one could put up with them in the US, so they got shipped to a country where it didn’t matter who did or did not like them. Indigenous people have no choice over who their missionaries are, and no group that has a choice would go with my in-laws. Another calling made in heaven.

  25. Fundys are the WORST fear mongers I know! Sucks for them to look back on life and realize how much they missed out by fretting over useless worry and contrived heartache. What a way to depress the human spirit which god has given them.

    1. This whole post, but especially this comment, reminds me of the line from the movie/stage play “Auntie Mame”: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”

      Goes double for Fundies.

  26. My favorite verse in the Bible is “God gives us richly all things to enjoy.” I think God wants us to enjoy life, but, sad to say, that is considered an ungodly attitude by most fundies.

  27. Parents were missionaries. My dad wanted to suffer for Jesus so he never raised enough support for us to live even decently. We only left for a break twice in 7 years and he never came with us. Even today now that they live in the states the only fun my parents have is “hidden” fun and not condoned by David Cloud in the “ABCs of Christian Growth” (aka how to be a good Fundy). My dad literally only plays Xbox live and my mom lives at the theater, but don’t tell their pastor!!! Oh, the third thing they do is go to the Christian bowling alley in town, but it plays Christian rock so they don’t go that often. It’s super lame and has black lights 🙂

    1. LOL. Reminds me of when i was helping out with a ss class. One of the kids of the more “faithful” couples pulled a movie ticket stub from her pocket and showed me. It was fun letting that little piece of knowledge accidentally slip to most gossipy housewife in church. We heard a message on “closet carnal christianity” the next sunday 🙂

  28. Reminds me of my former pastor who thought he was the last word in God’s will for other people. He was famous for handing people 3×5 cards with red writing on it with the name of the place that God wanted them to serve. If the person didn’t agree, then they risked calling down God’s judgement on their life. His favorite phrase was “Don’t get God in the killing mood.” Sadly, so many people I know fell for it.

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