Forget the “Friendzone” (Please) 

If someone doesn’t like you back, respect their decision and move on… Gain wisdom and learn when to be optimistic and when to be pessimistic. Both are necessary for life.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬)

Tell me, how many times have you heard a story like this: 

[Story Time]

There is a guy… let’s call him “George.” George is a really nice guy. He is kind, he is sweet, compassionate, and caring. Then there is a young lady… Let’s call her “Jen.” Jen is a good girl, but she has a rap for dating so-called “bad boys.” These guys use Jen and break her heart over and over, but it seems that Jen never learns her lesson. They use her, they abuse her emotionally, and they hurt her continuously. Many of them won’t even commit to her. George likes Jen and wants to pursue a relationship with her, however the two have known each other for a while and Jen only sees George as a friend. So Jen comes to George with all her relationship problems (whenever she’s in one), and hangs out with George a lot, and they do fun things together. She tells him that she loves how he treats her and then she tells George things like “I want to find a guy like you,” but whenever George tries to convince her to date him because he is in fact “a guy like him” and will treat her good and love her, she shuts him down. Then after shutting him down, Jen tells him things like “I only see you as a friend,” and “Someday you’ll find a lucky girl who’ll love you,” etc. Sometimes, it seems that Jen uses George to feel comfort and affection whenever others won’t give her this affection, however there is something holding her back from developing mutual feelings for George. This breaks George’s heart, however, because of his optimism and their mutual closeness to each other, George receives small glimmers of hope. So he continues to pursue Jen in a vicious, never-ending cycle of hope, heartbreak, and despair until he finally either gives up on Jen and moves on, finds someone else, or hones his heartbreak and pain, becoming the same kind of “jerk” or “bad boy” that Jen would date and then goes on to break other girl’s hearts or maybe even Jen’s if he’s lucky enough. 

[End Story Time]

Now, how many of you have been in the shoes of George? I know that I have. Today, I am going to teach you guys how to escape the friendzone, so that you don’t end up like poor George. You ready? Alright, here it goes… To escape the friendzone, don’t enter it in the first place. That’s right, don’t enter into it. If someone does not like you and will hold you at arm’s length and break your heart, over and over, then don’t give that person the satisfaction of hurting you. If you’re in a relationship like that, then get out. Don’t let anyone hold your heart hostage, and do not submit to this weird, shallow, form of (often self-induced) Stockholm syndrome. Why is it that when people reject us, we become more attracted? 

If someone does not like you, then let that be it. Don’t work hard to get someone who doesn’t deserve the work or the effort. If they don’t acknowledge you or your feelings, then stop. I understand that this is harder than it seems because you are going against feelings that you have built up for a while, but are saving your feelings worth get hurt over and over again? No, it’s not. Forget the “friendzone,” and move on. You’re worth more than that, so don’t settle for less. Does this mean that you should cut people off who friendzone you? I’d say yes and no. If it’s hurting you to stay in a close relationship with someone who hurts you like this and uses you, then I’d say cut them off. If they want to come after you when you do this, then keep walking. Sometimes they do this because rejection has (for some reason) given them interest, with some kind of  weird uninterested jealousy….


 Think… Do you really want to date someone who only pays you attention after you drop them? What kind of backwards relationship would that be? Do you really want to be with someone so used to brokenness, and who has such a twisted view of love? Do you really want to keep getting hurt for no reason? I hope not! Some people would have believe that this is what love looks like and honestly… love looks nothing like that. If someone really loves you, then they will care about your feelings, apologize when they hurt you and work to put a smile on your face. Sure love has it’a fair amount of pain (due to our imperfections, it’s own) but love is not rooted in pain. 

Speaking of that, sometimes the person who rejected you wants you so they can put you in the same cycle of mixed-signals and heartbreak again. The reason why is because your attention satisfies their own neediness. Do you really want to enter into that same vicious cycle again? I pray and hope not! This person is not your friend. When you subject yourself to this, you are like an individual standing with his or her arms open, waiting for a loving hug, but you direct your longing towards people who only want to give you pats on the shoulder, and some of them even repay your love with something tantamount kick you in the stomach and push you over. Don’t put yourself through that. Gain wisdom and learn when to be optimistic and when to be pessimistic. Understanding the place of both is necessary in life.

On the other hand, if this is legitimately just a friend that you like who just doesn’t have feelings for you, then don’t cut them off. Maybe you should take a break from them until your affections go away, and this is fine. If you keep liking them and they keep rejecting you, then you are the cause of your own heartbreak. If this friend rejects you, move on and find someone else. They can’t help it if they don’t like you. You say that they should like you because of your personality, when there are people who you don’t like romantically who treat you well and have nice personalities too. So why don’t you like them? Do you not find them attractive? Are they not good enough to meet your standards? Have you ever thought that maybe the friend that you’re chasing after who keeps rejecting you thinks the same? Practice what you preach. Not everyone is going to like you. 

If someone doesn’t like you back, respect their decision and move on. It’s the best thing and more right thing to do. Understand that this is usually tough for the other party as well, because they are in a spot where no matter what they say or do, they will hurt you. Not to mention if they say “yes,” then they aren’t really feeling “it,” but are giving you a chance out of pity. Then when they end the relationship, they will hurt you again because you find out that they were doing it out of pity and not genuine affection or a desire to build with you. People have certain tastes and yes, maybe their expectations are too high and unrealistic. Is the way that they approach relationships illogical? Does it show a lack of maturity and a false sense of reality and that they might be a bit delusional? Will they eventually end up getting hurt? Will they eventually end up hurting you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then that’s probably a sign that you need to stop chasing after this person. Just think to yourself, “Why would I date this person?” You deserve better. 

Find someone who isn’t shallow and do not lower yourself by becoming some sort of slave or servant to someone who doesn’t deserve you. I also want to tell you something else. People don’t owe you anything. Sure you’re a nice guy, or sure you’re a nice girl… so what? What does that mean? Sure you have good qualities, but that doesn’t mean that people should just fall at your feet and date you. Romantic love isn’t something that is owed. Romantic love is something that is given of free will. Just as you chose to give your love to someone who doesn’t love you, they have the right to slap it away. Don’t get angry and frustrated and begin to harbor resentment against someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you that you do for them. Yeah it hurts, but it’s a part of life. I’m not saying you’ve perfect, because you can’t but try to be understanding and make room for others decisions and faults. Just as God forgave you, forgive them (Colossians 3:13)… and sometimes you will never understand why people make the decisions that they did, and that’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Remember, people aren’t vending machines that you put coins of compassion into until a relationship falls out. 

Something else that helps is to make your intentions clear from the start. That way you don’t waste your time overworking your self to win someone who never liked you and will never like you (someone who doesn’t want to be won). Be straightforward, don’t be shy. Dating is similar to evangelism in the sense that it’s harder to give the truth to someone who you have an established relationship with already. You begin to fear that what you tell them might ruin the friendship, but believe that breaking the news is hard for the other person too. Instead of trying to date by cozying up to someone on the terms of being strictly friends, go in based on what you want. You want to date, then let them know that from the beginning. Be honest with them and don’t go in on false premises because are you really nice if you go into a fake friendship with someone based on a scheme to gain their affections? You’re being manipulative and your manipulation is failing. 

Don’t be a George (or a Georgina). Instead realize your worth and pray for God to send someone who will love God and you. Pray for and ready yourself for someone who will love you. Don’t settle for less and make sure that you are ready to handle more. Pray with faith and a will to change. It may take time, but trust that it will be worth it. Do not act prematurely after the inclinations of lust and your heart, but wait patiently seeking the wisdom of God and endurance. In this time that your feelings are being tested and you are warring against yourself, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14) and hope in God (Psalm 42:5). 

Now back to the analogy. How many of you have been in the shoes of Jen (both men and women)? I want to tell you that your shoes look almost the same as George’s shoes. The same advice goes to you. If someone loves you, but you don’t love them back, you don’t owe them your affections and you don’t owe them a chance, however, do not lead them on. Do not use them to comfort yourself because of your own heartbreak. If they express their love, do not be shy and do not change the subject. Don’t put off the truth. Tell them the truth. Let them know, “I don’t like you like that… I just don’t have the same feelings. It’s best for you to just move on.” After telling them this, don’t continue to lead them on. Put some distance between them and yourself and do whatever you can to be firm but loving and caring to your brother or sister in Christ. If they continue to pursue you after you tell them this, then it’s not your fault. They are hurting themselves and do not cave into your feelings of pity just to appease them. The best and most loving thing that you can do in this situation is to stick by your truth and continue to be honest and kind (doesn’t mean you have to be “nice” and passive about it, you can be firm and make sure that you are coming off as serious and leave no room for doubt).

Remember, you don’t owe them affection because of persistence. If you begin to change your mind because of genuine affection, then so be it. That’s fine, but do so at your own risk and by your own will. Do not feel forced to date anybody and don’t “experiment” or play with other people’s feelings. Now in regards to dating people that hurt you, whether it be because you seek a “thrill,” or you like being treated like that, or maybe you’re also being neglected and used by someone, or maybe it’s because of some psychological issue… I say that you should do the same as those in George’s shoes and that maybe you should see a psychologist or get some counseling (George is also not exempt from this). If you’re just looking for a “thrill,” then I warn you that living on the edge just makes it easier for you to fall off. 

In this post, I give you one charge. This charge is to “know your worth and know what you’re worth.” For, “you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:20‬)‬‬ Try for someone who understands this and who will be honest with you. Be aware of your decisions on who you want (and who you get), who you give your love to, and what you do. Do not give into sexual temptations and dishonor God in order to appease someone who you will be unequally yoked to and don’t give place for that person to hurt you or manipulate you and your feelings.

God bless you dear Reader and thank you for taking out the time to read this, Sincerely, 

Noah 

The Place of Judgment

This Scripture promotes an idea of judgment that is not geared towards condemnation, but towards salvation.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭

What is the place of judgment in the Christian life? 

In today’s postmodern world, the word “judgment” has become demonized and viewed in a negative light. People don’t want any judgment for the lifestyle that they are living and some have even gone as far as to say that God Himself doesn’t judge anyone. Many people judge judgment as bad and judge other people as judgmental for judging them (all of this “judge-caption” is ironic isn’t it?). The funny thing is that no matter where you go or what you do, it is impossible to not judge. You judge people every day of your life. You label people friend, look at people’s mannerisms, tones, and expressions to tell what mood they’re in… and maybe you can even judge people from the little things such as the way that they park. Judgment is unavoidable. Everybody does it. 
So if judgment as a whole is bad, then why not also what could be considered “good judgment?” When you tell your friend “Hey you look great today!” You’re judging them. The thing that people don’t want is not judgement, it’s offensive declarations. Offensive declarations are considered negative, because well… They offend. Though, these types of declarations are only truly offensive when someone is in the wrong. This is why God, the Bible, and Christians are disliked by many. Our message offends because it goes against everything that others know and believe about the world and themselves. The unsaved like to take Matthew 7:1-2 out of context and say that the Bible tells Christians not to judge, but that isn’t really true. Read the rest:
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬)

     This verse is not commanding us “not to judge” it’s actually telling us “how to judge.” You can’t judge someone when you’re doing the same sins as them. Imagine a judge who stole illegal music downloads, judging someone who does the same thing as guilty. What position is he in to administer judgment? Is that really justice? This Scripture can be applied to people who like to judge each other for living unjustly, when they themselves are living unjustly. [This Scripture can also be applied to Christians who judge others for doing certain things that they don’t agree with (whether it be eating meat or listening to certain types of music), because they are letting their legalism divide the body of Christ.] This is the epitome of hypocrisy and bad judgment. 

In the eyes of God everyone is guilty of sin (and His holiness is unrivaled in all of existence) so imagine how it looks when to Him when one sinner tries to display righteousness over another. It’s the same as looking at a filthy rag and choosing one because it is less filthy than another… They’re both filthy? Both rags are in need of cleaning! In order to be able to judge in a condemning “holier than thou sense,” (not simply pointing out errors in actions) you have to be completely free of judgment and morally pure. Nobody, not even Christians justified by God’s grace through Jesus Christ are morally pure (perfect). 

St. John said “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:8‬) This of course is not promoting moral degeneracy, however, this is reasoning for merciful judgment. So you cannot condemn anyone because you yourself are not perfect. Condemnation is God’s job and He will save whom He wills and condemn whom He wills. In order to rightly judge, you must understand this (unlike the Pharisees in Jesus’ original audience). This is what it means when Jesus says, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” 

This Scripture promotes an idea of judgment that is not geared towards condemnation, but towards salvation. Just as Christ said that “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John‬ ‭3:17) we should do the same. In this sense, we reveal/convict, showing the need for a savior and thereby present the Gospel (a resolution for the conviction, and the message of salvation), similar to how we would use the Ten Commandments. We can (and should) also use our judgment to affirm and uplift, showing the good and godly qualities in an individual. Both of these judgments are good and when used together promote a healthy view of the human being as a intricately wonderful, but flawed creature (of course by nature due to the Fall in Genesis 3) in need of salvation from God’s condemnation. If we constantly have this idea/motive in judging (to reveal and to save) then we will truly see fruit in not just evangelism, but also in our normal relationships with each other in and outside of the church.  

So how does one get free of God’s condemnation? The truth is that no human can be free of God’s judgment on their own. It is literally impossible for anybody to clear their self of guilt before God. So how is anyone going to be free from judgment? Jesus Christ came to take our (well deserved) judgment from God upon Himself for all of our sins so that we could be set free from God’s righteous judgment. Isaiah 53:10 says “But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.” He lived a life free of judgment, was crushed for our rebellion and our sins, and then He rose again, defeating death (the result of judgment) so that all who would repent of their sins and trust in Him would be free from death, and Hell. When someone is born-again, they are then given the ability to properly judge, as they align their values with God’s. The “log” is gone from their eye, so now they can remove the “specks” from the eyes of others. So to be honest, it is a Christians duty to judge people. Not in a condemning way because we aren’t here to condemn people, because they are already condemned! Our job is to give the Gospel in love to people, not condemning for their sin, but informing them of their sin and giving them the Gospel so that they can be liberated. The Bible says: 

•“Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.”‭‭ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:15‬)

•“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”‭‭ (John‬ ‭7:24‬)

•“The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.”‭‭ (Psalms‬ ‭37:30‬)

•“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭1:10‬) 

•“When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?”‭‭ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:1-5‬)

Judging is not always bad (as long as it is good, loving, and true), and as Christians we are called to judge righteously, not unrighteously. 

Thank you for reading dear Reader, God bless you

Sincerely,

Noah 

 A Letter to Her

Maybe, I’ve met you or maybe I haven’t…

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭18:22‬)

“Where are you?” I ask myself when I’m alone. I don’t know you. I don’t know what you like. I don’t know anything about you… Well, except that I’ll love you of course. I don’t know your favorite color or your favorite movies or shows, or your favorite music or any of your hobbies– but I do know that I’ll enjoy doing all of these things with you. I don’t know the color of your eyes or how you look when you smile, but I do know that when I see your smile it’ll brighten up my world in ways that you and even I probably won’t understand. I know that your smile will light up every room that we’re in together. I also know that seeing that very same bright smile on your face will be my goal every day. 

I’m looking forward to days on the beach, walks downtown, traveling and adventuring, going to amusement parks, evenings watching movies, hanging out with friends and family, making jokes, and just having fun enjoying each other. I’m looking forward to walking hand in hand with you, marveling at lights, taking photos, buying you gifts, messing around and laughing together. I know that your laugh will be a delightful melody to my ears. I’m even looking forward to more simple things like sharing food with each other (even giving you the last slice of pizza), and going out together. I’m looking forward to seeing movies with you, spending time with you, and wiping your tears away whenever you cry. I want to be a shoulder for you to lean on. I want to be someone that you can confide in and someone who you can trust to support you when everything seems to be going wrong. 

I’m looking forward to coffee dates, deep conversations, and just getting to know and appreciate that beautiful mind that God has given you. I’m looking forward to praying with you, and worshiping God with you. As I look into your eyes, I know that I’ll find over a million more added reasons to worship Him. I’m looking forward to serving you and making you feel loved and appreciated. I’m looking forward to loving you, to hugs, cuddles, and giving you kisses… I’m looking forward to all of it. Maybe, I’ve met you or maybe I haven’t, either way it’ll be the biggest blessing if and when you show up. All that I could ask for is that God prepare me to be as mature as I can and that He would build me up to be a great, understanding, and responsible man for you to confide in. I pray that He builds me into someone who points you back to Jesus and the cross of Christ, all the time. 

I’m looking forward to the day where I will be able to get down on my knee and ask you to be mine. I’m looking forward to the excited look in your eyes, and maybe even the tears of joy falling from them. I’m looking forward to our future together along with your happiness and every blessing that will come out of it. I know everything won’t be perfect, but at the same time, I know that everything will be worth it. You’re worth the wait and this long road full of heartbreak and longing. I’m looking forward to it all, and I am looking forward to you. 

“Love is patient….”

‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4)

Thank you for reading dear Reader, may God bless you 

Sincerely, 

Noah

Split 

The love should define your feelings, but your feelings should not define the love.

Split 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

‭‭1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“I wasted my time…” I think to myself

I invested it, I nurtured it, I put faith in it… for nothing. 

It seems like there is no reason or rhyme to the rhythms of life right now, as I am unsure how to feel.

I am sad but happy, sort of dazed, a bit jaded, a bit confused, but I digress. 

She dumped me, yes, she dumped me. 

It feels like she played me like a fool, and she made me think that she actually felt for me.

No, she didn’t… Well she did, but she didn’t feel the same. 

I tried, I gave her my heart, I gave her my time, I was vulnerable with her like I was with no one else. 

All this time she never felt the same, she was only letting me think that she did. 

She thought that she was doing a good thing, but she was not. 

Instead of being in a relationship, it feels like I was playing a game. 

All the kisses, all the hugs, all the times that I showed her the beginnings of what I believe was love. 

All the service, all the affirmation, all the long walks together and dedication…

All the things that I did for her… It feels like I’ve been used. 

Sullied and duped. 

I thought that one day I could love her, and I started to. 

Instead she was wondering if she could stand to like me based on her feelings. 

Who, was I to think that I could actually be happy? 

That my heart could finally rest in someone’s hands. It seems that I was wrong, sadly. 

Over the years it’s been stretched out so far, that it’s about to pop, like a rubber band.  

How perilous it is, the search for love between woman and man. 

God I feel broken, I am like a fresh wound still bleeding and still open. 

I need you to heal me and nurture me back to health… because if I am unhealthy, how can I even fathom loving someone else? 

Clean me and restore me before I am infected,  causing me to turn bitter and ugly from the pain that I neglected. 

Help me to keep my dignity before I turn my face against those who actually do love me. 

I wish nothing on her, but for You to give her strength. 

Though I felt hurt, I care for her and I don’t want her to be hurt, because she doesn’t deserve it. 

Though, she didn’t feel the same, at least she tried to do so, and she didn’t let me go on for so long falsely believing that I could earn it. 

I care about her and I want her to know that I’m not angry, but that I’m just confused.

Is this what dating is? A time for me to find someone on which my feelings can be suffused?

I want you to help her on her way, and I pray that You will give her wisdom to help her learn from the mistakes that she’s made. 

I pray that she is not mistreated, but that instead she is spoiled by someone who appreciates her like I did, and even more so.

I don’t want her to suffer, but I do want her to grow. 

I want her to learn from this and learn how a man is supposed to treat her. Yes, I want her to know.

I want her to know that she is still a queen and deserves to be treated as such, but before she finds her king,

She needs to know that love is not a house that you stumble upon, but a tower that is built by two sets of hands, what a dream. 

It is the time, dedication, and work between woman and man. 

Lord help me to find the right one, and to never settle for anyone short of a capable builder who will endure with me.

Bless her to be patient and kind. 

Bless her to speak what’s on her mind.

Help her to treat me right and for her wisdom and maturity to be defined. 

I pray that I am the perfect man, in my own right, that I will love her and treat her right. 

That I will not be played again, and that I will wait patiently for when she arrives and that I will endure until the end. 

However, if I am to be played again, I pray that I will learn something beneficial.

I pray that this thing that I learn will help me to be a good man to my next girlfriend and that our love will be authentic and not artificial. 

These are the things that I ask, in Jesus’ name, 

Amen. 

I don’t hold anything against my ex. Though this happened, I am thankful for the time that I’ve gotten to spend with her and for what I’ve learned because of this. She never cheated on me and she didn’t hurt me extremely bad. She tried to do it in the best possible way, but of course there is no good way. I don’t think that she was ready for a relationship though. She only liked me as a friend, but she tried to force herself to like me as something more. If you are unsure if you can build with some one, don’t go into it. It’s best to wait. If you don’t want to build with someone in the way that they want to build with you, then please don’t make them think that you do. Don’t go through all the effort making it seem as if you feel for them when you don’t. You may think that you’re doing a good thing, but you’re not. Open up your mouth, and open up your heart. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with them. Communicate with your partner. Don’t think that love happens the way that it does in the movies. If it does, then that’s a weak version of love. 

Think of love as something that needs time, dedication, quality workmanship, and good craftsmanship. Something that is not built upon the shifting sands of feelings, but instead on the rock of Christ and knowledge. Though feelings have some place in love… the love should define your feelings, but your feelings should not define the love. The reason why is because love is more than just a feeling that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s not love itself, it is merely a repercussion of love. 

Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it’s tiring, but that’s where faith, and hope (which naturally stem from love) come in. Make sure that you are willing to work with someone for your love and to not let one person do all the work. Also, don’t overwork yourself. Keep your partner accountable in their building. Plan out the architecture, look at strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be foolish and try to do everything based on feelings. Get to know each other and talk deeply about what you know, and from that how you feel. Don’t feel how to know, know how to feel. I pray that this helped someone out there. 

God bless you dear Reader, Sincerely, 

Noah Latner

Evil as a Means to God 

Though it becomes hard to have faith in God in the midst of suffering, God is there and (though it may be hard to see how) He has his purposes for it.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:18‬)

Suffering seems to be synonymous with being human. It’s just something that we cannot escape. It’s all around us and it is happening all the time, it’s hard to not notice it. Every day people deal with loss, pestilence, heartbreak, death, violence, murder, rape, natural disasters, terrorism, genocide, and all kinds of evil. The questions that lay on the minds of many are “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why me Lord?” and “Where is God in all of this?” When the sound of agony and suffering becomes loud, it seems that the beautiful songs about a good and loving God are drowned out. I assure you that though it becomes hard to have faith in God in the midst of suffering, God is still there in the and (though it may be hard to see how) He has his purposes for it.
Some might ask, “If God is in the midst of suffering, then how come he hasn’t done anything about it? Is he heartless? Is he unwilling? Is he not powerful enough?” This sounds very similar to the often used quote by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, in which he says:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

To your everyday run of the mill skeptic this seems as if it were a checkmate… A sort of question that a Christian would be powerless to answer. The truth is that this question makes a lot of assumptions and doesn’t consider certain possibilities or extra factors. For instance, a question that could dismantle this so-called “checkmate” would be, “How do you know that God cannot use suffering for good in a way that doesn’t undermine His morality?,” or better yet, “How do you know that God has no good purpose for suffering?”

In her book Victims and Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery, Linda A. Mercadante writes:

In Christianity, God is in the process of healing the world. Sin and evil are effectually, promisorily, defeated. This is not a completely realized eschatology, but a future apocalyptic hope. We expect wrings to be righted and justice to reign through God’s actions. Christ’s work has been both a preview and a beginning of this, but we still await the consummation.

Throughout the Holy Bible, it is clearly evident that God uses evil for His own good and just purposes. He does so, even though He is not responsible for the existence of evil. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealous anger and then faked his death. Did not Joseph end up becoming governor of Egypt and saving the Hebrews and the Egyptians from famine? Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Consider the story of Job. Did not God put Satan to shame and supply Job with twice as much as he lost? Consider the story of Israel itself. Did God not use their sufferings and struggles to bless all of the nations? Consider the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Did God not use the sufferings of Christ to give life to humanity? “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

Throughout the Bible can be found a plethora of other instances where evil is used towards God’s good and just will. This is a recurring theme of the Bible. By using evil, God can bring more glory to Himself. This also brings into question God’s own morality. Isn’t it evil for God to use evil towards His own personal gain, especially His own recognition? The answer to this question is no, it doesn’t. God bringing glory to Himself isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. Glory is defined as “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” or “magnificence; great beauty.” To put the definition simply, the glory of God is the impressive, goodness of God. The more God expands His glory, the better it is for the whole of humanity, as more of humanity can come to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ and be given eternal life. Now taking this new discovery into account, another question is brought into the mix. “Why can’t God bring glory to himself without using evil?” The answer is that He can and He has before (for instance the burning bush in Exodus). God’s goodness and graciousness alone is sufficient enough to bring Him glory. God does not need evil to be good, nor does He need evil to prove that He is good to the world.

While God does use evil, it must be stressed and noted that God does not create evil, neither is He the cause and/or original creator of evil. Jesus says in Luke 6:43 that “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” If God is good (the ultimate Good), then Jesus would be a liar if God made evil. How could God make evil if He is good? It makes no sense. Atheists often use the King James Version of Isaiah 45:7 to argue this. The verse says “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The Hebrew word for “evil” used is actually better related to the word “calamity.” The English Standard Version of the Bible translates the verse as “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” God (in His goodness) causes calamity (in the form of justice) to come upon those who do evil. In Michael L. Peterson’s book The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings, he uses some of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings from his Summa Theologica to add to his point. One of Aquina’ quotes says:

Further, a deficient effect can proceed only from a deficient cause. But evil is a deficient effect. Therefore its cause, if it has one, is deficient. But everything deficient is evil. Therefore the cause of evil can only be evil.

Though God’s goodness can be glorified alone, it is especially glorified when it triumphs over evil. What also has to be taken into account is what God has to work with. This is a fallen and broken world where evil is everywhere and every single, morally conscious, human being is corrupted in some sort of way. The world is also full of disease and death. What glorifies God more? Using what is good to glorify Himself, or showing the world that He can do good and revolutionary things through evil?

It can be argued that evil and suffering actually proves the existence of God considering that in a naturalistic worldview in which neither God nor any standards exist, evil and suffering don’t actually have proper places in the world. The reason why is because both evil and suffering assume the existence of good. Evil automatically assumes a standard because evil is just the deviation of good. Suffering, (in this context) being a cohort/repercussion of evil (though not necessarily evil alone), is dependent upon the existence both evil and good. Since neither of them existence in a naturalistic worldview (as morality is relative), neither does suffering. Relative, naturalistic, morality does not give any place for good or evil. The reason why is because suffering, in this context, is viewed as a negative.

In other words, a world where negative and positive are relative to each individual, there is no place for an overarching negative such as suffering. If someone views rape as good, then who’s to tell that individual it is bad? To assume that moral violations such as rape, murder, genocide, and human trafficking are bad, one must assume that everyone prescribes to his or her moral standards. Friedrich Nietzsche sums up relative morality perfectly with this quote: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” In order for an atheist to even argue against evil, he or she would have to borrow from the Christian worldview since it is the only one which gives a proper place for good and evil.

Now take look at this quote evolutionary biologist, and devout atheist, Richard Dawkins from his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

If all there is in the universe is “pitiless indifference,” then why does Dawkins continue to fight against religion, claiming that it is “evil and repressive?” And that God is a “moral monster?” Why does he even concern himself with abstract concepts such as evil and good? He is wrong in his last sentence where he says “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” While overlooking the arguments for God’s existence such as the Cosmological argument and the fine tuning of the universe, Dawkins also falls into the same folly that Epicurus did. He is assuming that there is no possible purpose for the evil in the universe. Dawkins (if he were here) would probably ask the question, “Well what kind of a good God would allow for such pain and suffering to exist? What kind of morality is that?” The answer is the kind of God who can effectively use what He has to work with.

Dawkins’ quote also leaves a bit of moral ambiguity. If there is no purpose, design, justice, good, or even evil, then why do people feel guilt when they do certain things? When people are wronged, why do they have the inclination to seek justice? If purpose, design, justice, good, and evil don’t exist, then why do people so desperately seek them? Most importantly, why does Dawkins argue for his set of beliefs and ideals, when ultimately nothing truly matters? It seems redundant doesn’t it? The man who says that there is no purpose has a purpose; that purpose being to let others know that there is no purpose.

In his book Problems of Evil and the Power of God, James Keller further shows how Dawkins cannot escape God:

Unless it is an expression of bewilderment with life and not a genuine question, in it’s various forms it presupposes some sort of theistic context, even when it is raised by atheists. For it is a request for a reason why things happen, a purpose they serve, not for their scientific or commonsense causes. If a hurricane kills many people and someone asks, “Why did this happen?” That person is not asking for meteorological or geographical information– information about the causes; rather that person is asking what purpose this evil event served. And that purpose must be the purpose of some agent great enough to envisage and control the event. Only a divine being could have purposes and abilities large enough to make the question a sensible one. If there is no divine being, then there is no reason why bad things happen; they just do. We can seek their causes, we can be bewildered by them, but it is pointless to seek any purpose in them.

To add to this, in his book Suffering and the Search for Meaning, Richard Rice argues, Suffering is universal, the urge to makes sense of suffering is also universal, and that no response to suffering is entirely adequate, which causes the need for multiple theodicies. Dawkins falls into this because his reasoning for evil and suffering, is just that… Reasoning that leaves nothing but more ambiguity!

Now back to the question, “Why does God allow evil?” Another reason that God could permit evil to continue is the fact that God is merciful. Though humans are a mix of good and bad (due to the state of our nature), humans are still morally corrupted and more prone to do bad things. When it comes to human nature, the Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) In this fallen world, evil does not stop at genocide and rape. Evil goes even further with things that are often considered minimal such as lying, stealing, using God’s name in vain, looking with lust (equivalent of adultery- Matt. 5:28), hate (equivalent of murder- 1 John 3:15), disrespecting of parents, laziness, racism, prejudice, fornication, and more. Some have even blamed God for the evils caused by man. Look at this quote from Anthony B. Pinn’s book Why, Lord?

The concept of divine persuasion and the functional ultimacy of man leads to a theory of human history in which the interplay of human power centers and alignment is decisive. In this context, racism is traced, casually to human forces. Divine responsibility for the crimes of human history is thus eliminated.

God cannot be blamed for the sins of man, but is He to blame for not stopping all of the sins of man? The answer is yes. God judges sin by a moral Law. The basic judgments are known as the Ten Commandments. Judging by the Ten Commandments, everyone is guilty and deserves God’s wrath and justice. If God were to judge the whole of humanity and put a stop to all evil, then no morally conscious human being would be left alive on the earth. God is merciful in that He hasn’t destroyed the whole of humanity yet. God is also merciful and loving as He provided Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sins of the world, offering man a way to have eternal life in a new world.

Now what of suffering that is not caused by moral agents? This includes factors such as sickness, and natural disasters. Who’s to say that God does not have a purpose for this too? Professor Paul Copan of Palm Beach Atlantic University argues that if we didn’t have evil and suffering such as this in the world, then we would not know the truth of our fallen nature and God would be a liar and a deceiver. When reading books such as Ecclesiastes, Job, the questions and emphasis on evil and suffering are impossible to escape. D.A. Carson argues that “One of the reasons that the books of Job and Ecclesiastes play so an important role in Scripture is that they frankly acknowledge the irrationality and disproportionality of evil in this world.”

Something else to be considered is that when things are going well, people often will ignore God. Often when things are shaken up in life people start to either blame God, or draw close to God. Though many blame God, what must be kept in mind is that God often permits people to suffer as a direct result of their own foolish decisions and misuse of their free will. For instance, what if a woman decides to wear high heels that don’t fit her (either to small or too large) to boost her external appeal. She walks down a flight of stairs, she then trips and falls down that same flight of stairs and breaks both of her legs. Is it God’s fault that she hurt herself? No, it was not God’s fault, but a direct result of her own carelessness. Even though she made this foolish decision, should God have intervened? The answer to this is no because this was not an act of God and again, God was not responsible for this.

Though the situation involving the woman and high heels was hypothetical, there are situations such as this that happen every day. Everyday people die from lung cancer because they decided to smoke cigarettes. Everyday people drive under the influence and die in car crashes. Everyday people overeat and die of heart attacks. Everyday people die of STDs such as AIDS and HIV, because they decided to have unprotected sexual intercourse outside of the bonds of marriage. What do these unfortunate, situational deaths all have in common? All of them are self-inflicted and all of them are a result of rebelling against God’s Law along with their conscience. When it comes to situations such as this, God can intervene if wants to, however, he does not have to. Though God is sovereign, humans have free will and moral responsibility.

To add to suffering as a result of man’s own free will and foolish decisions, this is also seen in the Bible. Take for example biblical figures such as David, and Samson. Both of these figures had instances where their suffering could have easily been avoided. Take for example the incident between David and Bathsheba, or Samson and Delilah. If these men would have not given into their lust, the repercussions such as Samson’s death at the hands of the Philistines, or the death of David and Bathsheba’s first son. What is confusing is that even though both of these men made horrible life decisions, they are both regarded as Biblical heroes. Why does God favor such broken people? Roland Earnst says :

In Samson we see a man who seemed to do most things wrong and in David we see a man who did most things right. However, they both suffered the consequences of their bad decisions and actions. We can expect the same thing when we make bad choices, and we should not blame God for the pain that results. But don’t forget, God still loves you anyway and he is always willing to forgive.

The moral of this is that God’s is willing (in His grace) to overlook the faults of man and offer redemption by reason. Though David committed adultery with Bathsheba, their child (Solomon) would be an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Though Samson died because he trusted Delilah and she turned him into the Philistines, in his death he saved the nation of Israel. Even here God uses people’s mistakes and evil for good purposes.

What about the sufferings of those who are Christians? If God is good, he would surely take care of His own right? This is what one should expect. Especially when verses of Scripture such as “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) and “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) It seems like a contradiction when there are verses in the Bible such as “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Why would God promise a group of people that they will have a wonderful life and experience nothing except for good, and then tell them to count it all joy when they go through trials? The problem here is a misconception of what God means by good. In Romans 8:28, the “good” that Paul uses does not mean “whatever we perceive as good or desire.” In the commentary section of the ESV Study Bible by Crossway the writers argue that, “… good in this context does not refer to an earthly comfort but conformity to Christ, closer fellowship with God, bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God, and final glorification.” (2170) When good is understood in this context, verses such as James 1:2-4 should be no problem.

God has also been known to use suffering as a catalyst to bring people towards His undeserved favor, forgiveness, and gift of eternal life. Take for example Nick Vujicic who is a young evangelist from Australia and President of the non-profit ministry Life Without Limbs. Vujicic was born without arms and legs and was bitter at God for a while. His main question to God was “Why?” Vujicic said in an interview that “There is no point of being fixed on the outside when you’re broken on the inside.” Vujicic later gave his life to Jesus Christ and became who he is today. He now travels the world and shares his story with millions. Vujicic says, “God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” This is only one example of many people who have disabilities that God is using to do great and amazing things!

Throughout all of man’s evil and suffering, one must realize that God is with them always. This is evident from Genesis to Revelation, as God was there during the fall of man and will be there during the ultimate redemption of man. Though it may seem rough, there is a Savior who knows what human suffering is like and who knows their pain. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) We also have a Father who offers salvation through that same Savior, who is Christ. There is a Spirit who guides Christians through suffering, and there is a God who shapes and molds them through every step of the way, so suffering can be good. Man shouldn’t blame God for all of their suffering as there are times when they are the cause of their own suffering. Even when man is the cause of their own suffering, God is patient in that He bears with the foolishness of mankind and still loves them more than they could ever imagine. Some say that evil and suffering makes the probability of God’s existence pretty low, however logically speaking (considering the fact that evil requires the existence of good, and purpose requires a will) it makes the probability rather high.

Thank you for reading dear Reader. God bless you and may you have hope in Him during your sufferings and down-times. 

Sincerely,

Noah

Works Cited/Bibliography
Mercadante, Linda A. Victims and Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery. Louisville, KY.: Westminster John Knox, 1996. Print.

Peterson, Michael L. The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1992. Print. (31)

Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995. Print.

Keller, James A. Problems Of Evil And The Power Of God. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web.

Rice, Richard. Suffering and the Search for Meaning: Contemporary Responses to the Problem of Pain. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2014. Print.

Pinn, Anthony B. Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology. New York: Continuum, 1995. Print.

Carson, D. A. How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990. Print.

Earnst, Roland. Why Pain and Suffering? Suffering for Our Mistakes. John N. Clayton, 2007-2015. Web.

ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. (2170)

Bio – Life Without Limbs. Life Without Limbs. Web.

Relationships, Love, and Stuff

You are worth more than a relationship status and you are way above what people think or believe about you.

“I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” (‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:7-8‬)

Hello, my name is Noah and I have not had the best luck in relationships… In fact I haven’t had any relationships at all. Yeah, that’s right. I’m almost 20 years old and I’ve never had a single relationship… or my first kiss… or really any of that stuff– (I am reminded of this everyday when going to a school that seems to obsess over marriage, relationships, DTRs, and “Ring by Spring”) Well I sort of had a weird long distance texting relationship (sort of) for about 2-3 weeks the summer after my freshman year of college (but that wasn’t really anything). I wish that it was but, it wasn’t and that’s the end of it, I guess?

It’s funny, I’ve never had any relationships, but I’ve had a heck of a lot of crushes and love interests for sure. After years and years of being friend-zoned, rejected, and let down, you think that I would’ve, quit, packed up my dignity, and gave up– but nope, I have my optimism still (whatever bits and pieces remain of it, that is). Out of the probably 20 or so girls (I have no idea, I’m swinging wild) that I’ve been interested in (and the 2 out of 20 that I’ve actually fallen in love with), none of them have said yes to me. I’ve been lead on or I’ve only been given cliches such as “Sorry, I only see you as a friend,” “Sorry, I’m not looking for a relationship right now,” or a straight up “I’m sorry, but no.”

Out of these answers, the “friend” one is probably the most common one that I’ve gotten. [Side Rant incoming] It always boggles me how people don’t want to date someone who they consider a friend (solely because of the title and nothing else), but fall head over heels in love with someone that drags them through the dirt. It honestly never made sense to me. The only conclusions that I could find is that this is a fallen world (therefore things don’t line up as they should), and that people have their preferences and free-will to do things (even dumb things). 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those “nice guys” that just tries to act a certain way just to win a girl’s favor. I’m honestly just curious. I do not consider myself nice by any means at all. I’d rather be considered to be kind, uplifting, and considerate of others. I don’t act this way because of some manipulative scheme to change my Facebook relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship”, but because it’s just who I am. I generally love people, and I won’t stop loving them. If Christ loved me considering who I am and how I was, then who am I to stop loving others?– even people who make bad decisions [insert laughter]. No matter how many times my heart is broken, no matter how many times I am let down, no matter how many times I am hurt and my optimistic spirit is crushed, I will never stop loving others. It’s just a part of who I am. 

Though, a lot of those cliche answers that I’ve received from different women have led me to consider the possibility that I’ll probably be alone for the rest of my life and that maybe I just wasn’t made to be in a relationship. In fact these cliche answers are what I expect women to give me before I even begin to talk to them. To this a lot of my friends and family (and even the girls themselves) would say, “Oh that’s not true, you’ll find that special person for you out there someday.” But that’s the thing, what if that person just doesn’t exist? What if that person’s not out there waiting for me? Out of all the things that God has promised us in the Scriptures, a relationship wasn’t one of them.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7-8, Paul actually says, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am.” It’s not Scripture that makes it seem like such a tragedy to be single, but our unbiblical culture and human desires that pressure us into thinking that if nobody takes any romantic interest in us that we are losers, that we are flawed, and that we’re [at best] next to nothing. Here, Paul is actually saying that singleness is a good thing and something to be enjoyed. He even goes so far as to call singleness a gift from God. In certain places such as Proverbs 18:22, and Proverbs 19:14, a wife is called “a good thing,” or in better words “a gift from the Lord.”

In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul calls singleness a gift and implies that it is equal to (or probably better than) marriage. Though singleness is a beautiful gift and should be seen as such, it is often so hard. I can definitely attest to that. There have been many times where I have been depressed or saddened by my loneliness and lack of romantic love. It makes you feel unwanted, flawed, unnatractive, and almost expendable. I wanted to inform you that these are all lies. Your relationship status does not– and I repeat DOES NOT– determine who you are or what you’re worth. Your Father in Heaven does, and He says that you were worth the life of His Son on an old and rugged cross. Read these verses:

“You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.” (‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:23‬ ‭ESV)

“for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:20‬ ‭ESV‬)

Don’t let your relationship status get you down and don’t let the words of people ruin you. Don’t become a slave to opinion and use your singleness to glorify God and do work for His glory! You are worth more than a relationship status and you are way above what people think or believe about you. Of course, wanting a relationship isn’t bad, however, don’t let that desire become a sort of idol in your life that you need to feel approved. I’d love to be in a relationship, but I haven’t found that special girl yet (…only rabbit trails). When and if I do, I’ll be sure to value her and treat her like the gift from God that she is, until then, I don’t want to be saddened anymore by my singleness. If you’re single reading this, then you shouldn’t be saddened either. You’re not alone, and I’ve met others feeling the same way. Even some of my friends in relationships know where you’re coming from (because they had to start somewhere right?).
Also keep Romans 8:28 in mind “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:28‬) Everything in your life happens for a reason and is geared towards getting you closer to God. And think of this, in your season of singleness, God is probably saving you from some type of unspeakable torture. I think of all the girls that I’ve had interests in and I realize that God was saving me from complete and total disaster! Being in a relationship isn’t always the greatest thing, I’ve learned (ironically while never being in one) Let Christ be sufficient and let the rest follow.

God bless you dear Reader, Sincerely,

Noah