Free from the law, oh happy condition! What a blessedness, what a peace is mine to know that my standing in Christ is not about what I do but about what he has already accomplished. What joy unspeakable it is to know that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.

And yet…

Some days when trials come and life seems nothing more than pointless pain, there is voice that whispers again the familiar lies in my ear and tells me that it is all my own fault that I suffer. “It’s because you didn’t got to church last Sunday. It’s because you didn’t tithe. It’s because you haven’t led single soul to Christ yet this year. That is why you suffer. Because you haven’t done enough. Because you are not good enough. Because you chose to stray from the old paths. That is why you are being judged.”

Even after the earthquake is over and your feet stand on solid ground there remain the spiritual aftershocks which can briefly shake again the foundations of your world. And when they come (as they inevitably will) all we can do is cling to a more sure foundation: that the Lord knoweth who are his and that He has loved them with an everlasting love. He knows what we are. He knows what we’ve done. He loves us anyway.

This present pain is not punishment. But some lessons are not easily unlearned. Some roots of doubt go deep.

38 thoughts on “Aftershocks”

  1. Is it bad that I expected “remission” to rhyme with condition at the start?

    Very nice post.

  2. I’m glad God’s love for me isn’t tied to how well I perform for Him. But, sometimes believing the lies is easier than living in the truth.

  3. Once I realized that my relationship with God wasn’t based on performance it made a drastic difference in my outlook on life. As I learn to understand His unending love more and more, it casts out fear, doubt, and guilt. When I hear a Fundy scoffer speak, all I hear is “BS BS BS…blah blah..” :mrgreen:

  4. The Lord is my Shepherd. I lack nothing. NOW.

    I’ve got everything I need to overcome this current crisis. And MORE IMPORTANT, He is with me in this Valley of Death, keeping me company, supporting me and encouraging me.

    The LOrd is my cheerleader.

    1. No one gets happy when trials and troubles come, myself included but if I can get myself to remember those truths you mentioned and how much God wants good for me then I can remember that I learn and grow a lot through troubles and I always draw closer to Him in them. How many times has God shown me He is my provider, my defender, my reason for having any hope in this mean and cruel world? Countless. And that is what I need to tell myself when the enemy of my soul or misguided brothers and sisters try to “help”. I know it sounds trite but it is true that if we didn’t experience trials, how would we develop our faith if there weren’t times we didn’t have to trust Him alone?

  5. This is something I’m working on training myself out of. Every time something goes wrong, the first thought is what did I do to deserve it. Why am I being punished? Then looking back and thinking, maybe we shouldn’t have left the former church. Just this past week something came up and I thought that. Then I had to remember how miserable I was there, how there was no way of living up to that pastor’s expectations, and how much happier we are in the new church. It’s a retraining process that is difficult at my age.

    Last night there was a blizzard and we weren’t able to get to church but rather than feeling relief because we got out of going, I was sad because I wanted to go. Big difference! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. I could have written this post, word-for-word. I understand completely what you said because that is how I feel too. It was an amazing moment to me when I realized that I was figuring out ways I could GET to church than trying to figure out excuses why I could stay home. And the part about trying to figure out what you might have done wrong… yeah, and my husband still now and then wonders what might have been if we hadn’t “quit the ministry” (which I always correct him when he says it that way) but those lies run deep. Just yesterday I was talking with my pastor’s wife and wondering out loud what I was doing wrong that certain things were happening the way they were. She pretty much said what Darrell said. I do love it when God repeats Himself for me.

  6. What helps me the most with those aftershocks is re-reading Psalms, and I see someone has already quoted Psalm 23 up there. Also, an in-depth study of C.S. Lewis for the last three decades has helped me immeasurably, which is why he is my favorite author ever. John Stott is another author I love, and I actually grieved his passing some months back, because reading him made me feel as if I knew him. Authors like these operate on a level so far removed from the crap we were force-fed that their worth is invaluable.
    Excellent post, Darrell, as usual. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Today was the perfect day for me to read that. Thank you Darrell, and more importantly, thank you JESUS for bringing Darrell and all these others into my life. I had no idea how much I needed you all. ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. It’s so strange that even though I asked Jesus to save me at a very young age, I feel like I am just beginning to understand what faith is.

    Faith is choosing to believe that God loves me no matter what I’ve done and that my present circumstances are working for my good and His glory not vindictive punishment for my sin. Oh, for faith to trust Him more!

    1. PW, my prayer is also for faith to trust God more. I’m going through a tough situation with someone I thought was a real friend and into whom my wife and I poured our live for the past year. Things have gone seriously haywire, and my reaction is one of asking how God could let that happen if he loved me. After all, I tried to do the right thing, I’ve tried to follow Jesus and show his love to others.
      It’s so easy still for me to fall back into the part of my fundy teaching that said that God rewards those who faithfully serve him.

      1. It sounds so right, so just: do good and you’ll get good back. But God warns us that in this world we will suffer! We can be of good cheer though because he has overcome the world. It IS hard to trust that in the midst of pain however! And pain when friends turn against you is one of the worst to experience. As C. S. Lewis said, to love is to be vulnerable.

        It’s really hard when we see other people doing the same things we did and succeeding and being lauded for it, but when we serve in a similar way, we get rejected. Sometimes then I have to accept the answer Jesus gave to Peter when he questioned why John seemed to have an easier path ahead of him: “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!โ€ (John 21:22) I never liked that verse, but I realize the truth of it now – I can’t judge my life by anyone else’s experiences; I must simply follow Christ.

        Blessings on you and your wife in this situation.

  9. I struggled with this for quite a while after my Mom passed away when I was in college. I knew that I wasn’t usually living correctly, and I truly felt that God “needed to take my Mom to get my attention.” It made perfect sense with some of the messages that I would hear from people at the Wilds or from traveling evangelists.

    For those that still struggle:
    Matthew 5:44-45 But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.

    John 9:1-3 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, โ€œRabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?โ€ Jesus answered, โ€œNeither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

    Luke 13:1-5 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, โ€œDo you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.โ€

  10. No one likes trials and suffering when they are going through it but Christianity is not a shelter from suffering, in fact we may suffer greatly but here is what Peter tells us:

    1 Peter 5:6-11, 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    James 1:2-4, 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    cf. 1 Peter 4, James 1

    That being said it is not fun, or joyous to go through any suffering. But any suffering we go through must be viewed by who we are in Christ. The rain fall on the just and the unjust, and trials and suffering are experienced by both the just and the unjust as well. It is not a matter of comparing circumstances to wear as a badge of martyrdom either. We weap, we mourn, we have good day and we have bad.

    I know from experience we who have been in the IFB have been told to smile through the pain and present the appearance of contentment no matter how bad the circumstances. Of course that’s not biblical. We suffer pain and dissapointment, discouragement and depression and we should have a healthy response to these, but we should also be as Job and say “blessed be the name of the Lord.”

    I’m not preaching at anyone but myself with this reply. Sometimes I need to talk it out and remind myself of these things as well. So this is to Don from Don, no matter what circumstances you find yourself, remember who you are in Christ. Cry if you need to, mourn if you must… but remember whatever you are going through is ultimately God’s working in your life for his glory.

    Ultimately we wrestle with the whole problem of pain and suffering and why God allows it. We stand in judgment of God and our verdict is he is not fair, or how can a Good God allow such horrible suffering? We start from a view that somehow we are inately good, and deserving of Gods favor, and we should not suffer. The opposite is actually true. We deserve death and eternal separation from God. There is nothing good or deserving about us. That is where we have to start from in dealing with the problem of pain and suffering.
    Ok, I’ll get off the soap box now. This has been for an audience of one and I needed to get it out there in print for me to remind myself of these things.

  11. Being out of IFB-ism for a year, I find it really hard to get un-indoctrinated.

    1. I know what you mean. Triggers pop up sometimes from the most unlikely places. It takes a conscious effort to sort it out whether it is biblical/Spiritual conviction… or response to manmade programming. ๐Ÿ™

    2. But hold on to this: you WILL get undoctrinated! It does take time, but it will happen. I know, because it was the same for me. What helped me, and YMMV, so this is not a lecture! was reading the Bible for myself, in a modern version, to get the twisted lies about the Bible out of my head. Also, being in a non-fundy church was amazingly helpful! Asking honest questions, too, and I would have paid money to have had a web site like this one, back in the day, was so beneficial. God bless you! He will, as you pursue truth. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Thank you Seen Enough! One odd twist of fate is that I work at a Christian radio station and I edit several sermons a week. One of them is my former pastor. So unfortunately, as Don said, I have triggers every week! But I also get to practice discernment which is cool. I just can’t believe all the kool-aid I drank, and it’s so clear now. I am SO glad I found this site. Darrell and many of the commenters have really helped me heal and get perspective that’s objective, and not subjective.

        1. You are very welcome, and oddly, I do think that in the big picture, you will come to see that having to read those stupid fundy sermons sped your whole undoctrination-program up! Really! On a regular basis, you are being confonted with all the old lies and garbage, and as you say, it is making you use discernment. You are being pounded with triggers, yes, but you will have few surprise triggers jumping out at you, down the road. This, too, is Romans 8:28, a loving Father pouring healing into His child. Hooray for you!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  12. I struggle with this so much. I’m currently going through a situation fraught with struggle and disappointment, wondering if God’s even listening, wondering whether this time I’ll get to win and things will work out for my favor, the way I’m yearning for them to. And added to this is that thought that comes up in the back of my mind: you don’t get to have this because X; God is making you wait because X; if you’d only waited for a clear sign instead of taking those steps in the moment, God would already have given you what you want; etc., etc., etc. It is such a difficult aftershock to deal with, I find. It’s so easy to fall back into to the “The reason I’m in this difficulty, the reason I’m facing each day with yearning and sadness, the reason I’m not seeing a hopeful outcome to this is because of something wrong I did. It’s because of that sin, or that omission, or that [insert feared failing here],” pattern of churning thought. And it really sucks because it makes me fall into my old fears that God doesn’t really want to give me good things; that if I trust Him with my yearnings and desires, what He’ll give me will be less that what makes me happy; that if I really want a thing, He’ll send me the opposite just to prove a point. It’s a big ole’ pack of baggage that I really, really dislike.

  13. I still struggle with that. My husband got laid off on January 2. I have a part time tutoring job that doesn’t pay much. We live in a very depressed area in Florida. I find myself asking, “What did we do wrong for him to lose his job? What can I do to make up for it.”

    It’s hard to get out of that mindset.

    1. I hope things turn around for you guys soon. Definitely soak in those verses that Don quoted above!

  14. I still catch myself thinking that every now and then. “Why is this happening? What did I do?”

    It’s a lot easier on me now to realize that instead of begging for forgiveness, I can ask for strength.

    1. It is so much better to ask for strength than to be burdened by guilt! His yoke is easy and His burden is light!

  15. “Life is shit; then you die.”

    Oddly enough, that is what keeps me from pointing a finger at God or wondering why He is ‘punishing’ me. I’m grateful to Him for the things that are going well, and I realize that the bad times aren’t going to last forever.

  16. The effect that fundy teachings have had on me is not to make me question God’s motives, but to question the motives of the mere mortals around me. The fundies I knew so rarely did anything out of the kindness of their hearts, that I’m now suspicious of generosity. Does that make sense?

    For example, when my health started declining near the end of 2010, my fiance begged me to take a break from writing and performing because I was so stressed-out and exhausted. He told me, “I’m bringing in more than enough to take care of you, you need to rest right now.” What I heard was, “Stay home like an obedient woman should, and be dependent on me.” I love this man with all my heart, and I know that the reason he was attracted to me in the first place was because I’m feisty and independent, but there’s still that voice in my head that says, “He’s trying to trick you!”

    Thank God that he’s so patient and understanding. I don’t know if I’d be able to put up with someone like me!

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