Divorce About A Year Later

How is life today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you know I have been applying to NOBTS. If you don’t know that, then obviously you need to subscribe to my newsletter. Recently while filling out the application, I had to explain the circumstances of my divorce. That involved getting out the paperwork and looking at it again. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was this month.

So how is it a year later?

Well, everyday in some ways, it still hurts.  Little things can happen that remind me of something from her. Sometimes, it can even be good things. I can pet my cat and be thinking about missing getting to touch her as well. I can hear someone say something and remember that she used to say that as well. Any time I feel rejection in some way, rightly or wrongly, it brings it back and I think about how I have been rejected.

That’s something that makes divorce so much different than something like death. Divorce is an intentional rejection by someone that is treating you like a problem that has to be eliminated. It doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes it is justified, but in my case, it wasn’t, and the irony is I had plenty of people, even priests and pastors and others telling me I could get a divorce at any time and it would be biblically based. One priest said a divorce was a godly option or I could remain a martyr in my marriage.

Loneliness is a big problem for me. That’s one more reason I want to move to the campus. I have friends, but very few of them are local, though it is nice for something like Final Fantasy XIV to have some people I can play it with. (If you play too, find me on there. My name is Phoenix Skywing.) It would be nice to have fellow men around who share my theological passions.

Of course, there’s also women to consider. A seminary could be a great place to find a devoted Christian woman who’s looking for her MRS degree. I had hoped that I would never be involved in this search again as it’s extremely difficult being on the spectrum and having to approach someone, but it looks like I am. Add in also that I am completely inept at knowing if someone is flirting with me or not.

It’s really odd to think I’m talking with my therapist about women I am interested in and getting advice. Normally, this seems to come up in most every weekly session. I still hate to this day going to bed at night and realizing that I am sleeping alone. I love having Shiro here with me, but it’s hard to think he’s stuck in one room at my parents’ house since they already have a cat and he only has me. He seems to tolerate my Mom some, and is slowly maybe starting to accept my Dad, but there’s no one he ultimately trusts but me.

There are some people who after a divorce seem to take a view that sex before marriage will be no big deal. I still hold the view that I don’t want it to happen, but having been married before and enjoyed that fruit, I also know what a great temptation it is for me. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid pornography still. That’s not about how awesome I am. There’s a great need to rely on the grace of God and His strength when I am weak.

However, as a guy, this is definitely a great want in my life. I find women to be absolutely beautiful and I don’t want to go through life alone. I also still wouldn’t mind being a Dad someday. Therefore, I do strive to be careful with women and have already set up some boundaries for when I am dating to help make temptation less likely to master me.

I have also become somewhat of an advocate for men going through divorce. One man was inspired to tell his story after I shared mine. I have also set up a Facebook group for Christian men going through divorce or who have gone through it or who are about to go through it.

It’s really sad divorce comes with such a stigma to it. We can think that if many churches today heard that Paul was coming back, they wouldn’t question him about coming behind the pulpit despite having been a murderer, but if news came out that Paul was a divorcee, then there would be serious questions as that had to be explained. I am not saying we should not take divorce seriously. We should. I am saying it is not the unpardonable sin.

Something that also stings in my case is knowing I was accused of being abusive by her. There are plenty of people who knew both of us who would tell you that this is not the case. As I said earlier, I have been told that I had grounds and I have tended to choose to not go into that due to my desire to not shame her. The news came out in September because we thought she had gone missing. A few people knew about it before I went public, but I had kept it secret for a reason.

I would be crazy to deny there was also some shame involved in that. I hate having to tell people I’m divorced. Divorce can be a scarlet letter that you wear.

At the same time, I try to not let it dominate my life. Many people can think about getting revenge on their exes. This is actually how Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series came about. She kept thinking of how she could kill her ex and then thought, “Why not turn it into a book series?” For me, I don’t really want that. There is a part of me that wants justice, but I want mercy also for her. I have decided personally that the best revenge is a life well-lived.

Even last night, I had a dream that we found out she had to go to the hospital again. This is just a dream, of course, so don’t take this as a fact, but I woke up from it and going back to sleep, I began praying for her again and her well-being. Can I say she has hurt me more than anyone else ever has? Yep. 100%. Still, I try to think of how I have treated my God and then I remember I too have rejected too many times one who loves me so much and I pray for mercy.

Going to work five days a week is a pain as well mainly because my job requires nothing that gives me any challenge intellectually, but is instead a lot of socializing. It’s one reason I am working on making Deeper Waters self-sustaining so that I can just do apologetics work full-time. Again, please consider becoming a donor to help make this so. The more free time I have, the more I can do the important things, like hopefully starting up the podcast again one day.

This is a season in my life. It’s a sad season, but it is still a season. It will pass. The thing is that when people say that, it doesn’t really help that much. You don’t want to have to wait for the season to end. You want it to end then.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people have been in my corner. I haven’t really lost relationships. If anything, my pain has been something that has helped some other men, and for that, I am grateful. I have one really good friend who has gone down this road and has interacted with me regularly. He had someone do the same for him. I am helping someone else down this road now and hope to help others down it too.

Still, I can’t deny the pain is real. You have to choose to keep going. There were times early on when it was sometimes tempting to just quit. That was never the answer though, although everyone I understand thinks about it at some point. I have chosen to face my pain consistently, but never doubt that it is very much there.

Sometimes people will reach out and say things that I also know are meant to be supportive, but they have the exact opposite effect. Some of it can even be true, such as the importance of being thankful for what you have. I am and should be, but I also do acknowledge there is a real loss on my end and a real desire for other gifts, like a remarriage some day.

Honestly, if you haven’t been through a divorce, one of the best things you can do is just listen. I might just need to vent a bit at times and then I can come to my own conclusions. Naturally, pray as well.

Thanks to so many people who have been there for me. I hope many of you never have to go through the pain of divorce, justified or unjustified. For those wanting to know about seminary, just follow my Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

Thank you again for everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

God is in Control

Does God being in control help out? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw a friend on Facebook share the image below:

My friend was not happy with it. Now I’ll grant he could know the person behind the tweet better than I do. Maybe they do have a theology that denies that God is in control. Of course, we could also debate what it means for God to be in control. A Calvinist and an Arminian could both say that, but they would have different ideas on what control is.

Now my own approach to this at first was that I understood it. If someone is in the midst of a crisis, it is true that God is in control, but saying that God is in control might not be helpful. It’s true, but we are to speak the truth in love. If someone has a major crisis going on, God is in control, but that doesn’t always help the emotional pain they’re going in.

Of course, I think it is far better to have God in control than to have the alternative. However, it doesn’t always deal with the pain that someone is going through. It’s theology that is true and can be helpful in its own way, but it has to be delivered at the right time.

I have told men before that if you are ever the pastor of a church and a mother comes to you and has lost her teenage son in a car accident and is wondering why God let this happen, you had better not be a philosopher or an apologist at that moment. She may be asking that, but that is not what her heart is really wanting. She’s really wanting love and comfort at that time. There will be a time later to answer that question, but that time is not then.

Sometimes, it could even make it worse to hear that. The person could already have some anger at God, and I really believe all Christians have at times, and then to hear He is in control could lead them to see Him as responsible for whatever suffering they have. Some could think God directly caused it and will get angry or more depressed thinking they are being punished for something and they don’t know what.

Now is there a time to say this? Yes, but as in any case involving giving counsel and support, it needs to be earned. The friend who shared this has gone through suffering also and when we talked about divorce, he could relate to me and give comfort and if he ended a conversation with me on a good note and said “Remember, God is in control” at the end, I would have been responsive in a good way.

Right now, I can tell you I feel the pain of my divorce every day still. At this point, I know still that He is in control and that helps, but when I was at the start of it all, that’s not something that would have helped me to hear. What really was helpful was to have a friend instead. I don’t say this to down good theology. Good theology has been a blessing to me for decades now. However, in the midst of chaos, good theology has a harder time hitting home. That’s when you need a friend to be, as Gary Habermas tells me, “Your surrogate frontal lobe.”

Now as I said, some who know the person who tweeted the message better than I do might know things about them that would change my mind on their saying it, but I am speaking of the overall message. Speak the truth in love. Listen to the person first and where they are before giving them your theology.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Redemptive Suffering

What good can come from suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On Valentine’s Day, an old friend messaged me. He was going through a divorce. It was an odd way to start a Valentine’s Day, but I talked with him some that day and not just through messenger, but also through the phone service on the messenger app.

It really got me thinking again about how thankful I am that my divorce is being used for good. That does not mean I am thankful that it happened. That does not mean it was a good thing. I am not about to go and shout “Yay! Divorce!” It does though fulfill a wish I had had.

When I started going through the divorce, the main contact I had was my friend William who had gone through a divorce and was with me a lot in my marriage. He was able to relate to me in a lot of what I was going through. It would be phone calls, Facebook messages, texts, and since he lives in the city I do, meeting at restaurants or having me come over sometime.

How did he get through it? He had someone help him. Now I don’t want to deny that I got involved in DivorceCare which has been an immense help. The first thing I told my friend was to get into DivorceCare.

This is really important to me as it already tells me my divorce is being used for good. I remember one friend after I came out and told my story saying he finally had the courage to tell his story. I hope he’s busy helping someone else with this. Divorce is a great sting. It is a horrible D letter that you seem to carry over you.

This is one reason the problem of evil is never really convincing to me. I have seen evil be used for my benefit so many times. Many of us would say that the hardest times in our lives, looking back, were some of the best gifts that we had. In those times, we learned the most about life and how to live and how to love our fellow man.

Also, after these times, we look upon other present sufferings differently. We immediately realize that God is at work in our lives and shaping us for His glory and….

Nah. That’s not accurate at all. We gripe and complain as if we haven’t been through evil a thousand times before.

I won’t deny that the pain of my divorce is over. Last night, I got caught in an emotional tailwind and I am still recovering from it. It happens. It is a lot better than it was at the start and I am thankful that already, my suffering is being used to help my fellow men who are suffering. None of that is to deny women suffer, but I am better able to help men.

The biblical promise is also that any suffering I go through, it will be used for my good and hopefully, by extension, the good of others. That’s a great joy. When I talk to someone now who is going through divorce and just starting the journey, I can relate to them as I have walked that road and am still a fellow traveler on it.

I don’t know your suffering, but the same applies to you. No suffering will ever be wasted if you are in Christ. All will be redeemed. Try to take heart in that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Who Can Be Hitler?

What does it take to be so evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been reading a book about Hitler and the evil of his regime. The book is also looking at the possible influences that Hitler had. Something to be sure of is that Hitler was no idiot. He was very well-read. He believed strongly in the science of his day and was opposed to the Christianity that we have today. Many times he could say something different in public, but this was before he had the power that he had and like many politicians, he changed his phrasing to fit his audience.

Here are a few observations. First off, if we compare anyone to Hitler today, we really need to stop doing so. Okay. You don’t like Trump. Unless you can show me where he intentionally killed millions of people, the comparison is not valid. Okay. You don’t like Biden. Unless you can show me where he intentionally killed millions of people, the comparison is not valid. We minimize the evil of Hitler when we do this and we minimize the suffering of millions of Jews and others under this wicked man.

However, there is a far greater concern that should be had. Who could be the next Hitler? The concern I have here is I know exactly who it could be.

“Okay, Nick. Tell us who this next evil person is? Kamala Harris? Joe Biden? Donald Trump? Putin? Anthony Fauci? Who?”

You won’t like the answer. I don’t.

The answer of who could be the next one is you and me.

“But I don’t have the power that Hitler had!”

But what if you did? What if you found yourself in a position of power? We all would like to think we are using it for good. If we are, what could be wrong? Here’s the thing. Hitler was convinced he was using his power for good either. The advance of the German people was good for humanity in his mind and also in his mind, the destruction of people like the Jews was good for humanity.

How many people have been an employee in a business and thought “If I was a manager, I would treat my employees differently” and yet when they get to the power of being a manager, they act just like the people they condemned? I have seen it and I’m sure you have. Did the power really change these people? No. It just revealed what had already been there.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we treat our neighbor and sincerely in our heart of hearts. It’s easy to put on a face in front of people and treat them nicely when it’s in public, all the while despising them beneath. That is actually something Hitler did. He assured the churches nothing would happen to them, and immediately when he got into power he began breaking his word.

We all struggle with this to some extent. I have a saying I have shared before that if you want to know how much you love Jesus, look at the person you like the least. How much you love them is how much you really love Jesus. That person is just as much in the image of God as you are.

What can you do then? Learn to love your brother better. Realize the capacity to be Hitler is just as much in you as it was in Hitler. You can be that evil and if you were given power, who knows what you would do with it? Would you do great evil convincing yourself it was for the good of humanity?

If you also think this could never happen to you, then I fear that you are far more prone to have it happen to you.

What is the solution? The only solution I know of is the resurrection of Jesus and His life. It’s learning to love as He did. His ethic and life is the only hope we have. The next Hitler is indeed right here right now. We have met him. It is you and I.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Merry Christmas. War is Starting

What really happened on Christmas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve seen several people sharing lists of their least favorite Christmas songs and one common song on many lists is Merry Christmas: War is Over. I am not going to talk about that song, but I think it is mistaken. When we look at the original Christmas, it’s not war is over. We could say the message at the first Christmas was, “Merry Christmas: War is Starting.”

My favorite version of the Christmas story in Scripture is found in Revelation 12. We forget that this is really what happened. Jesus is born and then wise men come seeking him and King Herod wants him dead. No doubt, Herod was a twisted and evil man, but he know what the birth of the Messiah meant for him. This guy was to rule Israel. He was a threat.

We have our nativity scenes set up with gentle scenes and it’s all peaceful, but Jesus’s coming was a declaration of war. This was God making His way into the world in a new way in a way that He would be king. This was God coming in person.

The world was meant to never be the same. Herod was just the first challenger. The religious elite in Israel started to challenge Him as well. His followers, His body, would be persecuted by the Roman Empire. Later on Islam would come up and from them on, more and more forces have come up to persecute the church.

Jesus is a threat to people wherever He goes. A few months ago a friend shared that we often hear that Christianity needs to come to grips with the world. This person they shared then said it’s the exact opposite. The world needs to come to grips with Christianity.

When we celebrate Christianity, we don’t celebrate the end of a war. We celebrate the start of a war. We should also realize that we are to be continuing this war. We are to be spreading the message of the King and understand that that message comes with opposition.

It could be tempted to think that that means doom and gloom, but it doesn’t. We are meant to win this war. The gates of Hell will never stand against our side. Gates are defensive measures. The church has often put itself on the defense when we are really supposed to be on the offense.

On Christmas, we celebrate our king coming and leading the charge. He went and defeated the major enemy and left the rest of the battles for us to fight. Even then, we fight them by His power and not our own. We are meant to be conquerors.

This world is the world of King Jesus and He came into it on order to reclaim it We are meant to be ambassadors of good news and be rescuing those who are still believing that the enemy is in charge. The greatest battle has already been won. We are, at this point, dealing with left over battles and the last holdouts.

Christmas is a fun time, but remember it’s a time of victory and fighting the battle between good and evil. Jesus came to reclaim this world for God. Let’s make sure we are helping the cause.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Brothers Reunited

How does the story of Joseph end? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So Jacob has now died in the story and that leaves Joseph and his brothers. However, now Joseph is one of the most powerful men in the world. His brothers? Not so much. We all know sibling rivalry is a thing, but throwing your brother into a pit, selling him into slavery, and then telling your father he died, is somehow a step above shaking up their soda before you bring it to them at work. (Which I never ever did to my sister, of course!)

But as I said, Joseph has the power now and while his father was alive, he might have not wanted to do anything. Now, dear old Dad is gone. If anyone has the power in the family, it’s Joseph, and he does have the power indeed. He can do whatever he wants with these brothers. The only person who could really stop him is Pharaoh and somehow I suspect Pharaoh is interested in other matters besides sibling rivalry.

The brothers come up with an idea, and who can blame them? They claim that Jacob said that Joseph needs to show mercy and forgive his brothers. After all, it’s really easy to speak for someone after they’re dead. It’s not like Jacob is going to be able to say anything to him.

However, the brothers need not have worried. Joseph, if anything, is disappointed that this has happened. Do his brothers still not trust him yet? Do they not realize that regardless of what happened, that they are family?

Joseph assures them he has nothing against them. Yes. What they did was meant for evil. He doesn’t deny that. The reality is that God used it for good, the saving of many lives. This is something good for us all to keep in mind. Whatever someone intends for evil will be used by God for good one way or another.

We in the West look at this and think that this is a nice and heartwarming story. We don’t realize how important it is. For the Eastern audience, this could be the most important part of the story. Yes. Joseph has saved the world, but what about his family? No one ever forgets where they buried that hatchet. Will the brothers be reunited? If they weren’t, what would that mean for the future of the twelve tribes of Israel?

This isn’t just an epilogue. This is the story reaching its true resolution. Leave this out and there’s a mystery. Even if you see the twelve tribes together in Exodus, the audience would be wondering, “But what about Joseph and his brothers. How did that end?”

What we see here is a beautiful story of forgiveness. There’s a reason that Joseph is usually seen as a Christ figure of sorts in the Old Testament. Joseph can do whatever he wants with his brothers and he chooses to do one of the most powerful acts of all, to forgive them.

Genesis started with one brother killing another. It ends with one brother forgiving all of his when he could have been justified in killing them. That means the story ends in hope. Israel may not be in the promised land now, but they are united and at least they’re not killing each other now.

Tomorrow, I plan on a Christmas post, but then after that, hopefully, we will return to marriage and divorce.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Did Joseph Forget?

Did Joseph forget about his suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Joseph does manage to escape prison when he’s thrown in by impressing the Pharaoh by interpreting his dream. The Pharaoh places Joseph second in command in Egypt and gives him a wife. Joseph has two sons through her and the oldest is named Manasseh while the youngest is named Ephraim.

Ephraim refers to being fruitful. We can understand that. Joseph is having a very fruitful time in Egypt. However, the name Manasseh is given because Joseph says that he has forgotten the suffering that he went through. He had forgotten his trouble and his father’s household.

Had he? When Joseph’s brothers show up not too far down the road, Joseph does remember them. He knows about them. If he’s able to talk about his father’s household, surely he hadn’t forgotten about his father’s household. Besides that, Joseph should have good memories of his Dad who favored him.

It’s my contention that sometimes when the Bible uses the word forget or remember, it doesn’t mean what we often think it means. In the flood, it says God remembered Noah. It’s not that God is looking down at the flood and sees that ark floating and thinks “Noah! I forgot all about Him!” Instead, it means that God returned his focus to Noah.

If that’s what it means to remember, then that would mean that Joseph had a new focus in life. He was not thinking about what happened growing up and how his brothers mistreated him and all the time he spent in prison. Instead, he was focusing on the future.

Joseph had come to see that God was with him in everything regardless of how his life was going. One day he’s in prison and has been forgotten by everyone. The next day, he’s the second in command in Egypt. The reader knows that God has been with Joseph granting him favor in the eyes of all who see him the whole time, but Joseph does not have that outside perspective. He is living the story that we are the spectators of.

Joseph having children is a sign to him that things are working out. God has allowed him the honor of having a family and having descendants. These are things he would have missed out on also if he had not been faithful in the house of Potiphar.

Speaking personally on this, divorce has been the worst event I have ever gone through. Something that has kept me going is a saying that I have heard before and I don’t remember where, but it’s that the best revenge is a life well-lived. I have decided I don’t want to be a victim of my past. I want to rise above. When I go to work, I try to see it as just a stepping stone. It is one spot on my journey and somehow it will lead to another and God has me here for a reason just like he had Joseph in prison for a reason that he didn’t understand.

After all, picture if Joseph had never been sold into slavery and then never been picked by Potiphar and then never thrown into prison. He would never have been made known to Pharaoh. He would never have led Egypt and the world would have suffered a famine. Joseph could have died anyway then. Every step of his suffering was used by God.

Joseph no longer had his focus on the past. He was looking to the future. Paul said the same in Philippians 3. He was forgetting what was behind and looking to what was ahead.  (Ironically, what was behind him was pretty good actually. It just didn’t compete with Christ.) Maybe we should all do the same.

It’s something that keeps me going in this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Incarnation and Evil

Why talk about the vet and the problem of evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So I wrote about Shiro this week because it does leave me thinking about the problem of evil. One story I thought of was a story about a farmer who wasn’t a believer and his family went to church one Christmas. He saw some birds outside in the cold and thought they would die so he would try to get them in his barn.

He goes out and tries to motion them to come in the barn lest they die, but he doesn’t have any luck. He then thinks about how much easier it would be if he could become a bird himself and then show the birds the rest of the way to come into the barn. It’s at that point he hears the church bells ring for Christmas and understands the incarnation.

It’s a good story, but is it accurate. Paul tells us to imitate him as he imitates Christ, but when we see Christ coming, we don’t see Him talking as if the reason He came was this. He showed us how to be good, but He doesn’t seem to say that’s why He came. He came to bring the kingdom.

When Christ comes, He really says very little about the problem of evil. I can only think of two times specifically. The first is in Luke where some people talk to him about the people whom Pilate mixed their own blood with their sacrifices. Jesus also brings up the Tower of Siloam falling on eighteen people and killing them and telling the people none of these people were worse sinners than anyone else in the city, but they need to repent lest they perish.

The second is in John 9 when the disciples and Jesus meet the man born blind. He is asked who sinned that this man was born blind. Jesus says that it wasn’t because anyone in particular sinned, but so that God’s glory might be displayed in his life. The whole chapter and story then revolves around God healing the man and how the religious elite responded.

Absent from any of this is an explanation for the evil in the first place. Jesus never even begins to move in that direction. Jesus doesn’t tend to get into the why of the suffering when it happens. He just deals with the problem.

So as I thought about taking Shiro to the vet, I thought also about if only I could speak kitty for the time and tell Shiro why this is happening. However, after awhile, it occurred to me that that might not be any good. Does a cat have the capacity to understand human thinking like that? I am pretty much saying that I want my cat to become a human and cease to be a cat.

Kind of defeats the purpose.

Is our wishing to understand evil this side of eternity that much different? God could explain things to me hypothetically about the suffering in my own life, but would I really understand it. Could the answer be so complex that it would be beyond me?

There’s a Woody Allen skit in a play or a movie where he and his wife are discussing their son who is coming for a visit and is an atheist and the wife says she wants Woody to explain the Nazis to him. He says something along the lines of “Explain the Nazis? I don’t even understand the microwave!” It’s funny, but it’s accurate. We can all think of some area in this life that makes no sense to us.

But we’ve convinced ourselves that we would understand the answer. Why else do we ask for one? Could it be we aren’t given one not because there isn’t one or God doesn’t care, or could it be that we wouldn’t understand it. If the distance between me and a cat is this great, how much greater between us and an infinite God?

Maybe the goal is not to understand evil. Maybe it’s just to trust in the evil. Right now, my cat is on good terms with me again. Last night I came home and all was back to normal. Now if I pick him up again and start carrying him outside of my room, he’ll know what’s going on again and resist it, but eventually, he will just choose to trust again. After all, if he lives in fear of me forever, what does he gain? If we live thinking God is out to get us everyday, what do we gain? After all, if He really is, we’re not changing anything by that. We can’t stop Him.

Ultimately, I’ve never really found evil to be a convincing argument against God, but I know some have. My suggestion here is that perhaps the wrong answer is being looked for. I encourage people to look at the positive evidences for the existing of God and for the resurrection. If those are true, there is an explanation for evil. You don’t have to know it. Maybe you couldn’t.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

After The Vet

What happens after the vet? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So yesterday, Shiro got a clean bill of health. All is good and I picked him up and brought him home. I had to stop and get gas and I could see him in his carrier while I was pumping. With every move I made, he followed me with his eyes watching to see me.

When we got him home, he came out of the carrier and ran under the bed. For the most part, he’s been scared of everyone. Shiro doesn’t really care for my parents more often just tolerating them, but usually he’s all over me. It wasn’t like that yesterday.

If I tried to get close to him many times, he would run. Sometimes he would let me pet him a little, but if I got way too close, it was running under the bed again. He had a bandage on his leg from yesterday and he was trying to get it off. Fortunately, he did come to me and I took it off, but then it was off to run and hide again.

This morning before I got out of bed, he had climbed on top of me for a little bit. Right now though, he is still under the bed. He does come out to eat, but fear is still dominating him. It’s as if he has completely forgot all the good things I have done for him in the past and is now only looking at the bad experience.

It’s a good thing we’re never like that!

Too often, we are. How many times when trouble comes do I forget the good that God has done for me and only look on that suffering? I don’t understand why God has done this thing to me or allowed it to happen to me, therefore, I will not trust Him. This brings us to how people see the problem of evil.

It all depends on how one looks at God. If one sees Him as a monster. The bad is so awful that if anything good happens, it is just a chance. For the Christian, it is that the good is so good, there must be an explanation for the bad. It reminds me of the book The Man Who Was Thursday by Chesterton. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but it talks about some characters discussing the final main character.

““Then, and again and always,” went on Syme like a man talking to himself, “that has been for me the mystery of (Character whose name I have removed) and it is also the mystery of the world. When I see the horrible back, I am sure the noble face is but a mask. When I see the face but for an instant, I know the back is only a jest. Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good an accident; good is so good, that we feel certain that evil could be explained.

For us, we know that there is a great good, so the evil must be explainable somehow even if we don’t know it. For the other side, the evil is central. Honestly, I would hope any skeptic would at least want to consider the Christian idea because wouldn’t you prefer there be some meaning to what happens instead of just random chaos? I know I would.

Will Shiro come out and realize that the suffering he experienced didn’t happen because I want to hurt him, but because I love him? I’m sure he will soon. He’s starting to warm up bit by bit. That’s the minor question.

The real question is, will I realize the same in my own life?

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Shiro and the Vet

What can we learn about suffering from pets? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m taking a break from the series now to write about what is going on with me today. As I write this, it is around 8:35 and I am sitting at a Starbucks with my tea right next to me (None of those pagan coffee drinks) when I would more normally be waking up and have my little cat Shiro nuzzling me waiting for his food machine to go off so he can get breakfast.

Not today.

This morning, I got up at 6:30 instead, and called to Shiro when I didn’t see him. He came out from under the bed and I indicated to him I wanted him to jump up, which he eagerly did. A moment later, he regretted it. I held him and headed towards the door and then he knew what was coming. I had his kitty carrier in the bathtub in our big bathroom and had it already open as I put him in.

It’s a real chore honestly. It takes a lot of planning.

No. There’s nothing wrong with him as far as I know. He just has to have his regular shots, a dental cleaning, and I’m getting his nails trimmed while he’s under. Unfortunately, little Shiro understands none of this. For him, he’s gone without his breakfast and would much rather be at home and doesn’t understand why the only person in this world he now trusts is treating him this way.

You see, since the divorce, I have been with my parents and sometimes Shiro tolerates them, but he doesn’t trust them yet. I’m the only person he regularly comes close to and the only one who gets to hold him. He especially likes it if I lay down on the bed and he gets to be on top of me. He can sit like that for several minutes. He’ll often rub his face in mine, something I refer to as a kitty kiss.

This morning, I suspect he feels betrayed. If I loved him, I wouldn’t do this. Right? I would hear him crying on the way to the vet. I could picture him asking why I would do this if I loved him so much.

It’s interesting that we ask the why question.

In my Bible reading of the Old Testament, I am going through Job now. I contend that Job is not really about why bad things happen to good people. It’s asking why we are good in the first place. However, Job seems to want to know why what is happening to him is happening to him. Naturally, his friends think they have the answer which means of course, they were first-year seminary students.

It’s odd that Job argues against them while at the same time assuming to accept what they say. He wants his day in court. He wants to show he’s innocent. After all, the only reason he could be suffering is that he is being judged. Right?

Somehow, we often think a why answer would help us every time. Who is to say it would? Who are we to say we would even understand the answer.

As I type this, I think about my friend Ed. I spoke with him in person just last month at ETS and he has a hard life indeed as he has an unknown disease and a number of times has been at the hospital assured his time has come, but he is still here. Ed is a great servant of Jesus and in my own suffering in divorce has reached out to me a number of times.

And just after our meeting his 17 year-old daughter died suddenly.

I can’t imagine what that would be like. I’m not going to try. Even more unbelievable is he has contacted me through text message in this time saying he is sorry he hasn’t reached out to me. I tell him to please not worry about that and I mean it. I need to be there for him this time, and I do sometimes send him Bible verses about the resurrection.

Now I don’t doubt that God could show up and explain why this has happened. He could, but while Ed is a smart man, would he understand it? Would any of us? We’re talking about a being who knows the end from the beginning and can tell you everything that has happened in the story thus far and everything that will happen.

Also, is a good God obligated to prevent every kind of suffering we have here? I’m reading a book now called When Helping Hurts. It’s about how we can say we want to help the poor, but what we do really hurts them instead. Consider it like the little boy who wants to help the butterfly get out of the casing he’s in, so he breaks it. He thinks he’s helping. He’s just killed the butterfly. It’s in breaking out that it develops the strength it needs to be a butterfly. Without that, it dies.

One of the writers talks about being in a sort of slums area that he thinks is God-forsaken when he finds a church. He is invited to preach and being a good Presbyterian decides he will speak some on the sovereignty of God. He thinks that until he hears the prayer requests, such as a woman wanting protection since her husband beats her or for God to provide food for the children of someone in the congregation who are hungry.

This pastor knows about the sovereignty of God from his study of the text. These people know about having to depend on it for their very lives. One guess who really got the lesson on the sovereignty of God that day. Amazingly, those people, who are suffering far more than most of us in the western world are, have more trust in God and rejoice more in His goodness. Prideful skeptics here might call it delusional hope. Perhaps they should try to talk to those people some first and just really listen.

It’s part of our entitlement mentality. We all think we’re entitled to a life without suffering and God is there to aid in our joy and to keep us from evil and if He’s not doing that, well He’s not doing His job. Yes. God has His job and He is obviously our employee and if He doesn’t do the work, He’s not worth it.

It’s really an arrogant position.

It’s also not as if God does this for His enjoyment. Sure, I’m sipping a tea here in Starbucks and typing a blog and watching the people come in here, but if you asked if I would have rather been staying at home and doing all this work from there and then playing some Final Fantasy XIV with friends, it’s definitely the latter. I’m not a morning person. I’m a night owl. I’ve been going to bed earlier this week to prepare. (Fortunately, God in His grace let me have my Dad’s bronchitis so I didn’t have to work. Yes. Another interesting way suffering works for our good.)

I would like to be able to explain to Shiro that I love him despite what he sees. You who are reading this, regardless of your attitude towards cats, know that what I have done for Shiro is ultimately a loving thing and if I didn’t do it, you would have grounds to question my love for Shiro. It’s odd, but if I withheld this suffering from him, I would not be loving.

Part of my problem with arguments from evil is people who make them presume too much. They presume there is no good reason for this, that they have to understand the reason, and that God owes them to not have this evil suffering. It’s important to note that the problem of evil is the burden of the skeptic. They have to demonstrate there is no good reason for a particular suffering. Good luck with that. I don’t have to know why a particular suffering has happened and frankly, why should I know that? I consider myself a smart man, but I don’t think I would understand it either.

After all, I don’t understand yet why God allowed me to meet a girl who would ten years later shatter my heart in a divorce that was unjustified and call me abusive. I still don’t understand it, but I have held on to Him in the midst of it and that has been my hope. Friends assure me that sometime down the road, I will see this as a blessing, and in some ways, I do see good coming from it now, but I still wait for more. I especially hope to someday soon meet another girl who I can bring joy to.

And as I think about that, it brings me to something else about suffering and knowing why it happens. Most of us hate it if we’re watching a movie and someone spoils what happens in it for us. Strangely, we think we should have spoilers for our own life given to us. This is a story that we are in, but it is His story and we are just minor bit roles in it, though there is still something great planned even for us.

In a few hours, I will be picking up Shiro. Before too long, he will be snuggling with me again. Maybe not tonight as my Dad and I are going to see Christmas lights, but eventually, he will give me his trust again and be happy.

Will I give the one who watches over me the same and be happy just being with Him?

That’s up to me.

And for you, that’s your choice as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)