This is one of the documents my dad left on his computer. The images were added by me to illustrate the text.
My initial spiritually inspired thoughts and scriptural references to support them
I believe some misconception may be due to a misunderstanding of the word “chasten”
chas·ten transitive verb
: to cause (someone) to feel sad or embarrassed about something that has happened
I believe that too many believe it to mean punish or correct! Is this the interpretation from the Greek?? Even if this is so, God has shown me that this isn’t necessarily His meaning as the reason for permitting every tribulation. We all suffer tribulations unless we are NOT sons, but bastards! His reason is to spur us to seek Him; to provide opportunities to grow stronger in and closer to Him. Without tribulations in our lives many, maybe even most of us wouldn’t even think about seeking God. We would probably only enjoy life and not think about God or others at all. Tribulations give us cause to seek God, and give us the opportunity to grow stronger and closer to Him.
There are many Christians, some very strong in some areas of faith, that seem to make judgement about the faith of others due to a lack of wisdom or faith or something else because of lack of complete understanding. They seem to believe that their knowledge, their faith, their understanding must be better. They seem to believe that they have a right to judge those others. After all, this particular tribulation hasn’t been set against them!
Why do I believe these to be in error, to be misconceptions?
<Fill in based upon my thoughts and references; to be referenced from examples, below>
2 Corinthians 7-11 Reference for those who judge others’ tribulation causes
An example which happened to a friend and co-worker in the ’70s:
My friend had been raised in the Roman Catholic tradition as a child. In his specific case, he found it difficult to believe in the existence of God based upon the teaching and practices which he and his family got from his church. For a time, he still wanted to believe in God, but stopped going to church.
In the 1970s, he and another friend/co-worker became involved in the “I found it” movement. Suddenly we at work were being inundated with “religious tracts” (mini-comic book style messages) seemingly designed to either convince people of the existence of God, or convict the reader of their own sinfulness and cause them to repent.
Apparently, these tracts had helped them, and they were anxious to help their friends and co-workers. Unfortunately too often their efforts accomplished just the opposite, causing many to not necessarily deny the existence of God, but not wanting to even listen to their message, be it of God, or salvation, or whatever, merely because of the method of approach. While I wasn’t totally thrilled with the tract approach, I didn’t let it keep them from talking with me. I was not even nearly complete in my faith walk either, though I wasn’t near the point of not believing. And while the tracts were a little over the top at times, they did spur me on to seek God a little more fervently.
As far as my friends went, I presented them with my perspective on their efforts at work, and suggested that what helped them wasn’t necessarily what would work with other co-workers (some of whom had told me what they had perceived of the approach taken with them). The two had just presumed that God hadn’t chosen those who seemed to reject them and thought that they should “shake off the dust off their feet”(?) against them. But this one friend told me later, that my discussion about the different approaches took on new meaning a little later on.
As part of his “I found it” renewal, he and his family searched for a new church. He found that in a fundamentalist church not too far from his home. He found it to be what he and his family needed to help edify them. He would tell me of the strength of the faith of the church leadership and its congregation. He would tell me of seemingly miraculous demonstrations of faith which seemed to occur during almost every service. I was glad it was helpful for him and his family, but to me, I felt that the miraculous events that were a sign to them were a (superfluous?) demonstration of God’s power and ability.
But now, the rest of the story:
After becoming members of the fundamentalist congregation, there came a point where my friend’s oldest child got sick. It turned out that his son had cancer. He, of course, took this to the church, who prayed for their son’s healing. I believe that this support continued throughout their son’s battle with cancer. Unfortunately, the battle for his life, through both prayer and doctors failed. Also unfortunately, when the battle for their son’s life was lost, they found the leadership and congregation of their church telling them that the reason must be that he and/or his wife were being punished for something that they had or had not done; because they must have sinned! They were devastated. Initially they just believed that the church must be right. After all, they knew enough to be able to do miraculous things. How could they be wrong?
I noticed a significant change in my friends spiritual reflection, and ask[ed] him what was wrong. It is then that he confided in me that which his church family had said to them. It was both difficult and troublesome to hear! This same congregation had been so good for them for their spiritual growth before their son’s death, how could they really believe what they said to them? Did they not really know this family, this part of their congregation? Did they truly believe that that was the only reason that the battle was lost? Did they really understand the purpose of, or the reason God permits, but doesn’t cause tribulation? Was it because they were afraid to believe that God didn’t answer the prayers offered up by their fundamentalist congregation? That is not for me to know. What I did know, for the I felt that the Spirit told me, was that this was not as a punishment toward my friend or his family. I felt inspired to show him that tribulation is not permitted for the purpose of punishment, but as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Based telling him what I said above, and providing biblical references to support what I felt the Holy Spirit had told me to communicate to him and his wife, he said that this was helpful to them. Rather than grieving not only the loss of their son, but also the loss of their church family, they began seeking another congregation; one which was still faithful, but not inappropriately judgmental. And they found one which better served their spiritual development and edification. I think they discovered the true reason for the tribulation wasn’t to punish them for something that they had done, but as something for which the ultimate purpose was to change (correct) their journey’s path for another reason. God chastened us because He considers us sons and not bastards, not as punishment.
While we became separated because of job cuts, he later thanked me for my support after his son had died. I told him that I was glad that I had helped, and not hindered their spiritual growth. I also told him how our conversations during his “I found it” phase and later, had helped me in my spiritual growth. His suggestion early on for a study bible for use at work and/or at home has proven very helpful both short term and long. Without it, I may not have discovered, and then come to know God both by faith, and even more importantly for me, know Him because of instances where my level of faith was worthy enough for completion of faith into miraculous answers to prayer! But that (or maybe those) is(are) for another time.
A current example – personal tribulation
I claim to now not only believe in God, but to also KNOW for fact that HE IS!!! If you begin reading this example, you may question not just how or why I believe this, but also why I feel as I do about God’s response throughout. Please note that I said God’s response, and not His apparent response, because while you may think that this is simply a matter of semantics, if you read all of this, I think that you see it really is not. And that is my purpose in providing both this example and the one above. Without the first, I may not have really been able to comprehend this one myself after listening to some!
Now I just told you that I KNOW for fact that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) IS! I know this because God not only gave me faith enough to believe, but when I asked He helped me discover, through fervent study of His Word, that with sufficient faith and fervent, worthy prayer, He will do what the prayers of righteous men ask. He has permitted me the completion of my faith of worthy prayers for myself. my family and others. Now I am far from perfect in my faith, but I seem to be stronger than some in some areas of faith, and I think that God wants me to share what I know, without being pretentious about my faith or relationship with Him. Hopefully the Holy Spirit is guiding me throughout these works efforts!
My primary current tribulation is that I have Mantle Cell Lymphoma; a rare and very aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This isn’t new. In fact, I am now in my fourth regimen of treatment; a fact which some might too easily conclude is because I am not really listening to God. Believe me, I have considered that and discussed it with Him!
When I first discovered I had Mantle Cell Lymphoma (before treatment options were even discussed), I asked God about how I should believe, for what I should pray, in proceeding. Throughout my adult life, I had always trusted God to watch over and protect even my health. This became even more true after I had come to KNOW God’s ability and desire to heal us of all sort of things. I know that He, alone, has the power and ability to do anything, whether we believe He does or not. It isn’t because of Him that we don’t get what we ask, it is because of what or how we are asking. And in my case, I don’t think most people know for what I am asking of God.
Now when I was diagnosed, I had no history of cancer in my family. I am the first. And, while I don’t presume myself to be an exceptional example of a Christian, others seem to question why God would permit this to come upon me because they appear to see me as at least somewhat of a worthy person to be called a Christian, and do wonder why. My perspective? Well first of all, I don’t, and have never looked upon this as a death sentence! To me, this is not much different from having a cold or any other tribulation considered either large or small.
Why? I’m not sure, other than my knowledge of and trust in God, and my understanding of the purpose(s) of tribulation. You see, as I alluded to in the example above, while the tribulation is upon us, it is for path correction. But going even further, that path correction isn’t necessarily because of something that we have done wrong. It may be that God wants us to change direction in order to help others! This particular path correction effort appears to be for this purpose. Why should I (or you) believe this? Read on.
As I said, my prayer for this began before even the diagnosis of cancer had been made. I have trusted God for the health safety and well-being of my family and myself since the birth of our first child, our daughter. She was my first prayer in which I personally witnessed a completion of parts of my fervent, complex, detailed prayer of faith. Only parts have been completed, other parts still require ongoing, unwavering faith to be completed. But those parts that have been completed were sufficient for the time; sufficient enough to show me and prove not only God’s existence, but also enough to lead me to ask to be shown how to learn how to help others to discover this, too.
God continued to help me grow in spirit through a variety of means, including praying for others, singing in the choir, and even in being elected to the position of Elder (a position for which I didn’t think myself worthy). I ran only at the fervent request of others, and was elected, much to my surprise. Even then, I was concerned that I was not worthy. I prayed a lot, and asked God to help me to serve Him well in spite of myself. When I was ordained, I got a sign. I hadn’t really expected much, but at the “laying on of hands”, I truly felt a change, not in my body, but in my spirit. I KNEW that I truly felt a positive change of God’s Spirit within me. It was unexpected, but it very much comforting to me and my spirit. It was enough for me to know that it was more than just the people which had faith in me. It was sufficient for me to know the my election was also of God. He saw something in me that I hadn’t. I hope that I have not let Him down too much throughout my earthly journey since.
There have been miraculous, and less miraculous answers to prayer along the way which have both reinforced my faith and fortified and strengthened my KNOWING God and His power and His desire for us, but that is for discussion at some other time. I mention these thing only to help explain my knowledge and understanding.
So again, what do I believe of this personal tribulation, and why?
This is where the file ended, and I am unsure of the order in which he intended all of his writings to be read. I do know this particular piece was cross-referenced with God and Mantle Cell Lymphoma.
My dad, Joe Jerome, passed away on June 7, 2014 after a long battle with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. He had asked me for my help in setting up a blog where he could write about his cancer and his faith, but when he died without that happening, we knew he’d intended for me to have his files so that I could share the words he had written. I will be sharing his words posthumously over time, with only minor edits to fix the typos he would never have made if he hadn’t been so sick and so affected by his “chemo brain.”