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Getting through the strife of life

 

1 Scripture says we are equipped, so how do we manage life?

The sovereignty of God ought to indicate to believing man that God is in control of all things at all times. Further, that if believing man has faith in God that His will is applied to his life in every circumstance of life by God, then believing man should have no anxiety and little concern about his life. It could or perhaps should be as simple as that.

But this is certainly not so in most men and women today as they struggle with life, almost as if God was not there at all, as though they had to do something to keep their life on even keel, whilst hoping that God might do a bit for them now and then.

However, what does scripture say about our equipping by God for the Christian life?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Pet. 1:3-4 (NIV)

Scripture says we have everything we need for life and godliness, that we might participate in the divine nature. So if we have everything, then why do we seem to struggle so much with the issues of life? Sometimes unbelievers must see us as not being much different to how they are without God. So, if we Christians are the example on which they judge God, no wonder God does not rate highly in the community!

Another example of God's equipping of us:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Eph. 1:3-4 (NIV)

Notice - every spiritual blessing in Christ – holy and blameless. These are the written words of scripture, penned by Paul under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Surely if we were appropriating these words of Peter and Paul and be living this way, we would see a different generation of Christians from that we now see in these times.

It will be my contention in this article that although most true believers who make a serious attempt at living the Christian life really do their very best, there is a far deeper life available to them than is generally recognized, where the very life of our Saviour Jesus Christ is the life they can live, without any of the personal human effort they presently use. Our old life is dead and gone and the new life of Christ is available – but many do not yet seem know this. Even if it is known by the intellect, it may not be known in the heart.

In the light of the way we are equipped for the Christian life, let's look briefly at two different aspects of living the Christian life. These two look at the handling of tough times in the form of trials, tribulations and also serious loss of amenity in our lives.

1.1. What does scripture say to do in tough times?

What is man meant to do in tough times, when the adversities of life hit where it hurts? Scripture seems to have plenty of advice on such matters.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4 (NIV)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Pet. 1:6-7 (NIV)

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Pet. 4:12-13 (NIV)

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 1 Pet. 4:16 (NIV)

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Pet. 4:19 (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:6-7 (NIV)

Also, considering James 4:7-8, why can't we always count it pure joy, rejoice, praise God, commit ourselves to God and case our anxiety upon Him in a way that will recognize His sovereignty and His perfect will for our lives?

1.2. What does scripture say our attitude should be when we experience serious losses or actual evil in our lives?

When this happened to Job He did not blame anyone and maintained hope in God and what He might do.

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:10 (NIV)

The King James Version is more explicit. It refers to trouble as evil. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? But Job simply believed in God and what He said. So Job said:
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; Job 13:15 (NIV)

If Job can treat his adversity like that, surely we can try to follow his example!

Paul is a wonderful New Testament example of a godly attitude to loss. Another example to emulate.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)

2 Let's examine our Christian lives

2.1. Some questions

Why do we sometimes seem to fall apart with the many difficulties of life? Why do we act as if we have no faith at all?
Where is walking by faith and not by sight when trouble strikes?
Why do we only see what is seen in the temporal realm and not see into the eternal realm where real life is evident?
Why do we seem to forget God when evil or trouble appears to strike?
Why do even mature believers appear to worldly people be no different to themselves? Is there some lack of knowledge or wisdom within us?

2.2. Some possibilities

Could it be that:

We don't know who God really is?
We don't know how He tries to relate to us?
We don't know how to relate and communicate with Him?
We don't know how God uses adversity, suffering and evil to draw us to Himself? We don't know the deep theologies of scripture on these things?

2.3. Are there some gaps in our knowledge and experience?

It seems to me that:

We don't or may not appreciate where evil, trouble and adversity fits into the whole scheme of things.
We may not fully know who we are in Christ.
We may not know how to or are unable to appropriate the benefits of the cross. We may not know how to appropriate the life of Christ from His resurrection.
We may not have real faith.

2.4. A bridge into truth and true Christian living

Given the likelihood of this range of negative experiences in life, then what can we learn from them? What guidance does scripture give us? How might we learn to utilize such guidance and how might we achieve what God wants us to achieve? The concept of evil is one example of something we need to know about.

Given what scripture says about the provisions and promises we have been given by God, we should consider some of the more difficult aspects of scripture that may seem to affect our relationship to God, particularly if we do not understand them correctly. For example, God's word mentions such things as evil, (and relating to adversity, loss and persecution) and clearly shows how the concept of evil has relevancy in how God works in our lives. So let us take a look at evil, where it is mentioned in the Bible and how it all fits with God and His purposes in our lives.

3 Where does the concept of evil fit with God and with our lives?

Most of us, when questioned about our limited success in living in any degree of spiritual fullness in our lives, as Jesus mentioned in John 10:10 (I have come that you might have life and have it in its fullness) would point the finger elsewhere – away from us – away from taking any personal responsibility for our lives. Some seem to expect that because we are believers, everything should be perfect, that God will look after everything and we will have no difficulties in life at all. Despite the fact that scripture does not say this – in fact it is nearer the opposite, as scripture promises we will share in the sufferings of Christ – we still expect to mostly sail through life on a magic carpet.

In the temporal realm, we might blame our spouse, our children, our boss, our pastor, our neighbour, our parents, or at times, even our best friend. Spiritually speaking, we might blame the devil, demon activity, the evil in the world, or if we have an extra degree of honestly we might sometimes even blame ourselves, or even recognize the role of our own flesh in seeming to bring us difficulty, or in exasperation, just blame Adam and Eve for it all. After all, that's where it all started! Some might even blame God for the difficulties in our life.

Although these attitudes might come from unbelievers, this is not confined to unbelievers. Many believers can also find themselves doing so, when something bad happens in their life, they ask God - why them? It is as though evil had no part with them and that God should not allow it to happen. Humanly speaking, in the soul realm, where human emotions and thoughts can run rampart, such reactions are to be expected. There are not many of us like Job who can take it all on the chin and not think wrongly, but think as God does. Neither do we always praise God in all circumstance as did Paul, or count all difficulties as joy, as James did. However, in this life, all of these are going to impact us from time to time. No doubt at all. Nothing is more certain. The whole counsel of scripture underlines this principle of God utilizing evil and trials of various types to bring about His purposes in this world and specifically in our lives.

It seems to me that many believers do not connect evil and misfortune with God in any way. It is though evil exists separate from God and He has nothing to do with what happens in the world or in our lives. However, this inclination to separate God and evil is a vital clue in seeking to explain why many believers have been unable to live in the fullness Jesus promised. When afflicted with evil, misfortune or trauma, most believers are able to quote Romans 8:28 (that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes) as some vague attempt to rationalize or explain that what has happened is OK ( which it generally is) but without really understanding the depth of that scripture and how it takes into

account the relationship between the forces of evil that might have caused the misadventure or trauma, and the relationship of God to the whole thing.

Many also know the scripture in Genesis 50:20, where it is said that when evil came against Joseph, God meant it for good. In other words, God meant to bring good out of the evil that came against Joseph. This scripture of course gets much closer to explaining God's role in the way that He uses evil to bring about His purposes for His people. Still the same general point as Romans 8:28, but much more explicit.

However, in life, what do most of us do when evil or misfortune overtakes us? We often say," God, why have you allowed this to happen to me?" It is as though God in His sovereignty (which we conveniently forget about at that time) is not allowed to bring difficulty against us. But He is, and He does and always has, with all His saints. Abraham, Moses, Joseph, most of the prophets, along with what we know of the lives of many of the disciples, especially Paul, Peter and John, all experienced God's determinate will of imposing affliction upon them. That was His method of bringing them into fullness of faith. Without trials true faith will not develop. Peter and Paul experienced this as a routine part of their lives and both wrote about their suffering extensively, praising God for it and telling how it was the method that God used to further the gospel.

So why don't we take more notice of their experience and their writings as to how to cope with the difficulties that God brings? Firstly, suffering is difficult to experience. It is not pleasant. We don't like it. We would rather God took it away. Also, perhaps there is too much emphasis on things like prosperity, healing, deliverance and the like, getting us OUT of things, rather than THROUGH them. God has methods of dealing with our lives and we need to take note of the scriptural ways, so clearly announced and described in the lives and in the commands and teaching of scripture, both Old and New Testaments.

It is going to be the main purpose of this article to show where evil and similar negative events will often fit perfectly into the will of God and how scripture actually explains these things in both simple and sometimes deeper ways.

Before we go too far with this discussion about God and how He uses evil for His own wonderful and good purposes, let us get one thing straight. Most people will baulk at the words God and evil being in the same sentence, as though God had nothing to do with evil and evil had nothing to do with God. However, this is not the case. Evil and everything else in all creation is intertwined with God, although God does not do evil Himself or is responsible for it. Norman Grubb's simple comment is as good as any to give an initial explanation of this.

"It does not mean that God is the doer of that evil. As Paul said, "God forbid!" (Romans 9:14). And James said, "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempeth He any man" James 1:13). God does not sin; nor is He responsible when we sin." (Grubb pp 167 Yes I Am)

God just uses evil for His own divine purposes. It is very clear from scripture that God does utilize and organize events which might be considered evil in themselves in order to bring about His perfect will for His glory and ultimately for the benefit of His people, which includes us in this day and age. After having mentioned Genesis 50:20, as one example of this, let us now look at a larger range of scriptures of this type.

3.1 Scriptures that indicate God's relationship to evil.

Many will be surprised to find that some of these scriptures exist and that they mean something in the context of bringing the gospel to the world and fullness of life to our lives. Although the New International Version is used here, not because it is better, but because it is commonly used, The King James version is also quoted for some of these verses, where the translators of the NIV have used different words.

3.1.1 God created evil, as He created everything else in the world.

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isa. 45:7 (NIV)

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isa. 45:7 (KJV)

Notice the KJV use of the word evil. This comes from the Hebrew word Ra' Strongs 7451, having quite a range of meaning, depending on the context. It's meanings include, bad, inferior quality, malignant, disaster, unpleasant, hideous, severe, injurious, fierce, wild, adversity, deadliness, unethical, immoral, mischief, and calamity, right through to wicked and evil. Calamity is often used in some translations. So, whichever word chosen, God created them all. God said – "I make peace and create evil". Isaiah knew and wrote the word Ra by inspiration of the Spirit of God and it was translated into the KJV as evil. However, we don't have to rely on just that one verse.

3.1.2 Jeremiah said that both evil and good come from God

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? Lam. 3:38 (NIV)

Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? Lam. 3:38 (KJV)

By this he means that God actually organizes evil things to happen and well as good, but always for His own higher purposes. One example from the Old Testament, which occurred many times is as follows. Did not God on many occasions bring other nations against His people Israel in order to teach them a lesson and get them right with Himself? The best New Testament example is Jesus death on the cross. Again, Jeremiah knew and wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Then there is Job.

3.1.3.Job said we must be prepared to receive evil as well as good from God

His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:9-10 (NIV)

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 (KJV)

Again, notice the stronger words from the KJV. This example is interesting for another reason, as Satan was involved directly with all proceedings. When God allowed Satan a lot of (perhaps unusual) access to Job, so that Job's losses in life would be huge and his suffering incredible, was God making a mistake? Of course not! God was working on the pride and small view of God that He knew existed in Job's being. When this happened Job's faith held, (although he suffered as he was refined) for he knew that God was still in charge. He did not consider Satan's role at all. He knew that God's power was over Satan, as though any power Satan had was inconsequential. In a very real sense, only one power (God's) was operating as the power of Satan was a part of God's power given to Satan for specific purposes. There will be more discussion on this aspect later.

3.1.4 Solomon said that God made both good and adversity.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Eccl. 7:14 (NIV)

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him. Eccl. 7:14 (KJV)

Again, notice the stronger word in the KJV.

Before we finish this brief outline or the origins of evil, let us look at that in a little more detail. We know from scripture that evil began to be visible, when Satan rebelled against God. (Ezekiel 28:14 and Isaiah 14:13-14) Satan, fixed in his own self-centredness, set himself up in opposition to God. In doing so, Satan set himself up as the opposite sort of personhood to God – he was the one for evil, God was the One for good. Because Satan as God's light bearer was created by God, the evil within him emerged at that time – but as no surprise to God. (Grubb pp 31 Who Am I?)

Having now dealt with four scriptures showing of God's involvement in evil and its use, let us now look at a related aspect – God's use of evil forces in the world for His own ultimate purposes.

3.2. God's deliberate use of evil forces in the world

3.2.1. God said that the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar was His servant.

Then say to them, 'This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. Jer. 43:10 (NIV)

God says here that Nebuchadnezzar, that He treated a pagan King as His servant at that time.

3.2.2. God indicates that it is He who gives men sight / blindness, deafness / speech

The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Ex. 4:11 (NIV)

God indicates here that it is His will that decides who is afflicted and who is not.

3.2.3. God indicates He is using the Assyrians to express His anger and wrath

"Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! Isa. 10:5 (NIV)

God says here that the Assyrians are here expressing His wrath for Him.

3.2.4. God indicates that it is He who sent destroying locusts among His people

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. Joel 2:25 (NIV)

God's destroying army here are locusts – He can send even insects to do His work for Him.

3.2.5. God indicates He has taken away the punishment He sent against Israel

The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. Zeph. 3:15 (NIV)

The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. Zeph. 3:15 (KJV)

Notice again the use of the word evil in the KJV translation.

In this case God is shown removing a punishment from His people Israel, indicating that He did inflict them in the first place. This shows that He did use other nations to chastise Israel – the use of evil peoples for His own purposes and against His own people.

So we can see that in the Old Testament period, God had no qualms about sending evil against His people. What about in the New Testament?

3.2.6. Peter said that it was God's set purpose and foreknowledge that delivered Jesus up for crucifixion

"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. Acts 2:22-23 (NIV)

Here it was God's express purpose, well known and ahead of time, but now revealed by Peter, to send Jesus to the Cross.

3.2.7. Luke writes that it was God's predetermined purpose that allowed power to Herod, Pilate, the gentiles and Israel to crucify Jesus.

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Acts 4:27-28 (NIV)

Here, God, by His power and will, has organized the Romans and the Jews to bring Jesus to the Cross

We can see from this that when believers were praying after Jesus death, they acknowledged that Herod and Pilate only did what God had decided to permit them to do beforehand. This is another example of God using evil for His purposes.

3.3. A summary of God's establishment and use of evil in this world

• God has said that He has created evil as well as peace.
• Solomon has said that God created adversity as well as good.
• Jeremiah has said that out from God comes evil and good.
• Job has said that God sends evil as well as good.
• Zephaniah indicates that God was removing the punishment He had applied earlier.
• God used a heathen king as His servant to come against His own people.
• Moses recorded God as saying that God caused deafness and blindness.
• Isaiah said that God used the Assyrians to bring wrath to His people.
• Joel reported God as saying that He sent locusts among His people.
• Luke reports that it was God's set purpose for the people of Israel to put Jesus to death.
• Luke also reports that God anointed both Herod and Pilate to bring Jesus to the cross.

4 One relationship of evil with suffering

These verses clearly establish the principle that God at times has used the evil He created to be brought against His people Israel in the Old Testament and against Jesus (in these examples) in the New Testament.

There are two issues to be looked at here. One is this. In our day and age, given that God does not change and His ways and means of doing things do not either, should we not expect that we too will have to live as though God is going to do similar things and act in similar ways to teach us His ways and get us to be disciples. The New Testament abounds with examples and teachings of how we can expect to share in the sufferings of Christ. Consider the following New Testament scriptures:

Romans 8:17 (NIV) - "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

1 Peter 2:20 (NIV) - "But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God."

1 Peter 3:14 (NIV) - "But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened."

1 Peter 4:16 (NIV) – "However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."

Matthew 5:11 (NIV) - "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me."

Acts 9:16 (NIV) – "I will show him how much he (Paul) must suffer for my name."

2 Corinthians 4:11 (NIV) – "For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body."

2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) – "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Philippians 1:29 (NIV) – "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,.."

That sharing in the sufferings seems to be God's way of bringing us to a total reliance on Himself, in order that He might then work through us.

The second is perhaps more important. From all the examples provided here so far, we can see that God is always in charge and that Satan is always subservient to Him and that Satan requires God's permission before he is able to do anything in this world. The story of Job is the best

example of that, where God imposes limits on what Satan is allowed to do with and to Job and his family. So it can be argued that Satan's power (that is permitted by God) is really a part of God's overall power and in consequence of that premise, there is only One power in the universe. This factor, later becomes a critical part in how we see things in our lives and how we approach God for resolution of all things in our lives.

5 The overruling power of God in the universe.

Jesus Himself indicates here that the power Pilate intended to use against Jesus actually came from God. Consider this response from Jesus:

Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." John 19:11 (NIV)

Jesus said to Pilate that he could only have the power over Him that was given from above. If there were two powers, Jesus would surely have said there was power from below. It suggests that Jesus only saw one power.

Jesus again saw that the earthly powers could be used to wrongly oppose God's will, as when He rebuked Peter.

Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" John 18:11 (NIV)

Jesus said to Peter in the garden when he was being arrested, that it was the Father's cup that He had to drink. Would not he have said Satan's cup if He was acknowledging two powers?

God also incited Satan against Job (twice) indicating that He was the overall power controlling all things.

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Job 1:8 (NIV)

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." Job 2:3 (NIV)

And just for a reminder of the power of God over Joseph's oppressors, this is what Moses recorded in a verse already referred to.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20 (NIV)

Jesus in one of His teachings about evil and desired single-minded-ness about God, gave this instruction during the extension of the sermon on the mount. This one is much more complex but has very detailed teaching in it as to how we should view evil. Please take time over it as it is very important.

Jesus, in the following scriptures talks about the relationship between a good eye and light (righteousness or good), comparing it with a bad eye and darkness (unrighteousness or evil).

(On this issue we have to go to the King James Version to get either Matthew and/or Luke's words as other modern versions do not convey the correct meaning by not including the word "single" in the verse. These other versions, by using good, healthy or clear, convey the wrong meaning. As will be seen, the word single has special meaning in the Greek, which these other words do not convey)

"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" Matt. 6:22-23 (KJV)

"The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light." Luke 11:34-36 (KJV)

The word "single" in Greek is Strong's 573 haploos. It means singleness and is used of the (spiritual) eye not seeing double as when it is diseased. It means single, sincere and without duplicity, without deception and without evil. If you think about it, this sort of seeing involves prudence in knowing how to deal with fellow humans and the circumstances of life.

Notice what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is saying that an eye that is not single is evil (or is seeing double) In other words an evil eye, an eye that is not single, is seeing both good and evil. He also says that the eye that is single will have a body that is full of light, but if the eye is also seeing the evil in a situation, then the whole body will be full of darkness. So if we want to have our body full of light we need to have an eye that sees single and not double or evil.

All this is another way of saying that our faith with regards to a particular matter will be tainted by the darkness of unbelief if we see at all with a double or evil eye. So this issue becomes a vital factor in having our issues of faith being brought forth into victory. In any situation therefore we need to see beyond any evil relating to the situation and focus only on the good, in full faith without any unbelief, that good may come from it. (If we focus on the negative, or see both with a double eye, light and good cannot be the result) It is perhaps another way of saying that even when things are bad, we need to see the good or possible good that can come out of that situation – as per these scriptures.

Job said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 1:21-22 (NIV)

He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:10 (NIV)

So in the context of the discussion on the source of power in this world, we can argue that there is only one power, as all other power by men, angels and demons is granted by God and is under His control. So when we see evil, we need to see it in the context that it has been permitted or specifically arranged by God for His own purposes, even if we do not like it or understand its purposes at that time.

6 The practice of living out life in these ways

There isn't any formulae for learning to live life the way God intended. It is learned out of knowing many things about God, at least intellectually, so that the Spirit of God may use these as fodder to teach us when difficult times arrive. This is likely to be more or less on a continuous basis for those who are really committed to the Lord and are prepared to lose their own lives in order to have His.

There are probably many ways this could be taught, as evidenced in the many How To books available. However, I am going to use a personal example that is perhaps indicative of how the Lord teaches us His ways. I wrote most of this document in November 2005 and did not publish it then because I did not know how to finish it off. Then, in 2009, I stumbled over the incomplete file on my computer again, just as a circumstance came to my life that gave me the insight to finish the article. So here is just one of the many ways to look at life like this.

"Recently, a close friend became very ill, although there was no immediate threat to his life. However, there were potential long term difficulties as well as an immediate sharp inconvenience to life. I felt for him deeply.

Loving him, I naturally wanted to help, but distance, his shock and pride, as well as some family relationship issues made it difficult to do much at all. To cut a long story short, I was left having to trust the Lord. I did not like that. The emotional shock set in and my imaginations ran riot. What if......? What about....?

Now I am still learning that there is nothing wrong with falling into a heap when the problem first appears. It shows me as being very human.

However, my focus was on the problem and how to solve it, which as I said was impossible for all sorts of reasons. For days I reasoned and analyzed and thought about it – another word would be worried, which is really sin. Darkness reigned as I struggled. There was no answer!

So I then did what I should have done first. I asked the Lord and really all I did was re-establish relationship with Him. Abiding! Oneness! Faith! Zoe life! Hebrews 4 rest! His life, not mine! There were no answers to the problem, but peace returned. There will be intercession. There will be suffering, but hopefully knowing that the Lord is in control of all things and trusting Him in it all. Isn't that what faith is!

God has allowed or instigated these circumstances for His purposes in both me and my friend. Exactly what those purposes are I cannot tell. I am not God.

I don't know what the Lord is doing with this person. He may be making him into a special son and saint. Doing what I would have done in the circumstance might have gotten in His way. My job is to praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in this person's life and wait on Him to see if He wants me to do anything. In the meantime, keep as perfect a relationship with the Lord, because without it, I will not hear from Him what to do for this person anyway.

I am sure this does not cover all the bases for the problems of life but is perhaps indicative of some of the principles of spiritual life that God intended for us."

I pray that you yourself will come to surrender to the Lord and His ways sufficiently so to enable Him to direct and control your lives according to His will and for His glory.

Finally, the article provided below, written by Marshall Broomhall is a living example of the principles mentioned here. Broomhall describes how Hudson Taylor lived exactly like this.

Initially written in November 2005 - Completed in April 2009 Ken Walker, Global Good News
kgww @tpg.com.au -leave out the space before the @ to make the address operative

The Secret of Rest - Marshall Broomhall

The secret of his (Hudson Taylor's) rest of heart, amid such tempests of hate, was his refusal to look at second causes. His times were in God's hands. He believed that it was with God, and GOD ALONE, he had to do. This is strikingly brought out in his article entitled ''Blessed Adversity.'' With the experiences of Job as his text, he wrote:

''Even Satan did not presume to ask God to be allowed himself to afflict Job. In the first chapter and the eleventh verse he says: 'Put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.' Satan knew that none but God could touch Job; and when Satan was permitted to afflict him, Job was quite right in recognizing the Lord Himself as the doer of these things which He permitted to be done.

''Oftentimes shall we be helped and blessed if we bear in mind that Satan is servant, and not master, and that he and wicked men incited by him are only permitted to do that which God by His determinate council and foreknowledge has before determined shall be done. Come joy, or come sorrow, we may always take it from the hand of God.

''Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss. Our Lord did not stop short at Judas, nor did He even stop short at the great enemy who filled the heart of Judas to do this thing; but He said: 'the cup which My FATHER hath given Me, shall I not drink it?'

''How the tendency to resentment and a wrong feeling would be removed, could we take an injury from the hand of a loving Father, instead of looking chiefly at the agent through whom it comes to us! It matters not who is the postman--it is with the writer of the letter that we are concerned; it matters not who is the messenger--it is with God that His children have to do.

''We conclude, therefore, that Job was not mistaken, and that we shall not be mistaken if we follow his example, in accepting all God's providential dealings as from Himself. We may be sure that they will issue in ultimate blessings; because God is GOD.

With peaceful mind thy path of duty run: God nothing does, nor suffers to be done,
But thou wouldst do the same if thou couldst see The end of all events as well as He.''

(From The Man Who Believed God, by Marshall Broomhall)