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Notes in italics by David Carter 3.14.

08

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Matt Rogers'
new book, When Answers Aren’t Enough: Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn’t,
(Zondervan, 2008).

When tragedy strikes your life, even the best theological answers don’t help. This is right
on target, an affirmation. You know intellectually that God is good, and that He’s with
you in the midst of this fallen world. But knowing that doesn’t take away the pain you
feel.

The answers to life’s hardest questions become personal only when you experience God’s
goodness for yourself. Here’s how you can experience God as good when life isn’t:

Make sure your expectations are accurate. Don’t be surprised when you encounter
tragedies and challenges in life; expect some hard times because you live in a world that’s
been tainted by sin. Remember that Jesus said you will have trouble in this world, but you
can be encouraged by the fact that He has overcome the world. Call out to God in the
midst of even the worst circumstances, and expect Him to answer you.

I know that I read this today, but this seems to be something that I needed to hear several
week ago. I know it but needed to hear it anyway.

Give and receive kindness. Comfort other people who are hurting, and allow them to
comfort you when you’re hurting. Through this exchange of kindness, you’ll see God’s
love flow between you and others.

It has been difficult for me to be do things for other persons as well as allow them to do
good for me. Yet, lately, I have been open and rather transparent in opening-up to others.

Be honest with God. You’ll discover that God cares about what you’re going through
when you express your true thoughts and feelings to Him. Don’t be afraid to open up to
God about your struggles; He already knows about them, anyway, and He still loves you.
Remember that God Himself experiences both joy and pain. He will listen to all of your
prayers and give you the peace you need.

This has been a life practice and I have made this my practice. I have been ready to tell
God what is on my mind.

Focus on the spiritual more than just the physical. Since the spiritual part of you will
last for eternity, while the physical part of you is temporary, spiritual protection in our
fallen world is more valuable than physical protection. Look beyond a concern with just
physical safety to pursue spiritual safety, which is a much higher priority to God.
Although you’ll never be guaranteed physical safety in this fallen world, you can always
count on God’s help to deliver you from evil.

I have had struggles dealing with the physical things that have been happening to me. I
have struggled why God was allowing me to go through such difficult times. I have
wanted Him to step in and rescue me. It is difficult to deal with the matters I face when
my faith in God and beliefs do not fit what I have been facing. Yet, I know that He loves
me totally and wants the best for me.

Embrace mystery. You’ll experience freedom when you accept the fact that you can’t
know right now why God allows certain bad things to happen. You’re free to be human
and don’t have to be God, with all His responsibilities. Stop the futile effort of trying to
understand God’s ways from a limited human perspective. Instead, choose to trust His
promise that, ultimately, everything will work out fine and accomplish good purposes

I have a history of seeing the past more clearly when I look back. I do not want to feel
shame as I face God for not trusting Him in the painful present. I am not God or can even
be considered one who always knows the mind of God. Yet, I study to know God’s ways
and will. I believe God always does best even when it is very painful. I did not expect to
experience what I have faced.

Make good use of the time you have. The time you have to stay on earth is short. So
instead of wasting it by numbing yourself to the world’s problems (such as by trying to
escape through a vice of some kind), do what you can to make the world a better place
because you lived. Contribute all you can to leave a positive and significant legacy
behind.

I have been doing this. I have not wasted my life turning to some addictive escape but
have trusted Christ.

Don’t sugarcoat evil. Whenever you encounter evil, call it what it is. Hold yourself and
others accountable when you and they do wrong, rather than blaming circumstances for
what really are failed moral choices. Grieve the existence of evil in the world and let it
make you more acutely aware of your need for a Savior. Rather than pretending that evil
will go away if you don’t pay attention to it, do all you can to fight evil through God’s
power working in you.

I have made correct and incorrect decisions. These decisions have results that are now
impacting my life. This impact is a shock as I have not expected the pressures. I live in
that pressure and want to continue to believe that I have not made escape. But, I still God
can redeem me. I look for God to redeem me from the stressors.

Sense God’s goodness through His creation. Spend time out in nature regularly so you
can experience God’s goodness through the senses He has given you: seeing, hearing,
smelling, touching, and tasting. Let nature draw you out of intellectualism and into
experience, so you can move beyond just ideas about God to actually sensing His
presence. Look for God’s reflection in what He has created, and consider which of God’s
qualities you better understand once you experience nature.

I understand and believe in the benefits of fishing as getting away, but often have more of
a problem doing it due to being away from what I am trying to put behind me.

Notice and be thankful for the gifts God has given you. Stop to consider the huge
array of gifts God has bestowed on you – from the most basic gift of each breath you
take, to your unique talents. Be alert to the many gifts you see in the world. Let your
gratitude for all that’s lovely and admirable regularly remind you that God cares about
you individually and the world as a whole. Receive God’s gifts without feeling guilty;
invite Him to lavish His unconditional love on you.

I thank you, Lord for my health. I know that I have unique talents and abilities. I am
capable of working in several professional arenas and succeeding. The present situation
is not due to me not being capable of making the correct decision and knowing and doing
the correct thing.

Take a trip. Get away now and then, because a change in your surroundings will give
you a changed perspective on your life. It will enlarge your view of your circumstances
and prevent you from being stuck in them, unable to see the bigger picture of God at
work.

I am ready to get away for a time when I have no responsibilities such as the cruise and
rail vacation.

Make time regularly for silence and solitude. When you go to a quiet place by
yourself, you can most easily concentrate on listening for God’s voice speaking to your
spirit. Make a habit of doing so as often as you can. During your times of silence and
solitude, seek something greater than just answers to your questions – seek God Himself.

I am doing this now. I do this each day.

Look forward to a better future. Remember God’s promises that there will come a time
when sin no longer infects the world. Be assured that there is a better life to come.

elp make this world a better place right now. Take action to contribute to the world in
whatever ways you sense God leading you to do so. Pray for direction about how best to
use your natural talents and spiritual gifts serve God and other people in specific and
meaningful ways. Help make your church a loving community, and work for justice in
the world.

Go ahead and play. Realize that God wants you to enjoy life during the good times.
Take full advantage of opportunities to have fun and laugh. Ask God to give you joy that
isn’t dependent on changing circumstances.
Look for mercy at work around you. Notice the many acts of mercy God is doing in
your life and the lives of other people you know. Thank Him for them.

Think about the Resurrection. Regularly remind yourself of this incredible historical
reality. Understand that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you
as a believer every day, if you choose to trust God with every part of your life and invite
Him to work through you.

Give others hope. Share the Gospel message with other people as often as you can, to
point them to spiritual hope. Back up your witness by helping to meet their physical
needs (for food, shelter, medicine, etc.) when you can. Spread kindness indiscriminately
in Jesus’ name, so others can experience His goodness.

Notice people who others may overlook. Ask God to help you be aware of people who
might be overlooked by others, but who He wants you to recognize and encourage.
Consider such people as babies, the elderly, the disabled, and prisoners. Let them know
that they’re not forgotten. Reach out to them to share God’s love in meaningful ways, so
they’ll come to know His goodness in their lives.

View time from the right perspective. Keep the past, present, and future in a healthy
perspective. Remember how God has demonstrated His goodness in the past, embrace
His work in the present, and prepare for the better world that’s coming in the future.

Adapted from When Answers Aren’t Enough: Experiencing God as


Good When Life Isn’t, copyright 2008 by Matt Rogers. Published by
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.zondervan.com.
Matt Rogers is copastor of New Life Christian Fellowship at Virginia
Tech. 800 students call it home.