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Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
January 27, 2011

Facebook and the oldest galaxy ever found

Is your Facebook page safe? When the president of France and Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page are both hacked, what’s next for the world of social media? In other news, the emotional health of college freshmen has declined to the lowest level since the survey was begun 25 years ago, according to this morning’s New York Times. And today’s Wall Street Journal reports that two men in Afghanistan who converted from Islam to Christianity have been arrested on apostasy charges. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

What is God doing about the problems we face today? He is omnipotent, able to do anything he wishes. Consider the report in Time that the Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the oldest galaxy ever found, some 13.2 billion years old. God measures this vast universe with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).

And he is all-loving, wanting only the best for us. Why, then, is our world so broken?

As we have seen, Christians respond to this issue in several ways. We can point to the consequences of misused freedom, the ways God uses suffering to help us grow spiritually, and the fact that we will understand one day what we cannot comprehend now. Our Father walks with us through the hardest places of life, giving us his strength and peace.

Now, how can this theological conversation help us in practical ways? Here are steps to take when life caves in.

First, utilize the free-will approach to examine the origin of suffering. Is there sin to admit? Is this pain in some way the result of your own misused freedom? If you are not sure, you may ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind anything in your life which displeases God, and confess what comes to your thoughts. But do not assume that suffering is always your fault. Joseph, Job, and Jesus are clear evidence to the contrary.

Second, use the soul-building model to ask: what can you learn from this situation? How can you grow closer to God through this pain? Strive to be open to every source from which spiritual growth can come—ask friends for counsel, seek the Spirit in prayer and Scripture, worship God even (especially) when it’s hard. Stay close enough to Jesus to hear his voice and feel his transforming touch.

We’ll finish our series tomorrow. For now, let’s close with this observation by C. S. Lewis: “The great thing with unhappy times is to take them bit by bit, hour by hour, like an illness. It is seldom the present, the exact present, that is unbearable.” What problem do you need to trust to your loving Father right now?

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