0205: No! Good People do not make it to Heaven!

Yes God does use suffering to make us powerful--but not how we think he should

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson says that “Faith Helped My Depression”  He wrote that “You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it. And oftentimes — it happens — you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble,” he said. “I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s gonna be okay. It’ll be okay.’ So, I wish I knew that.”

And it will be Ok if God exists and you love him, as he loves you!  He promised, but not that your life will be a rose garden.  Oh No!

 People who say that only bad people suffer or that only good people make it to heaven have no idea what they are talking about! It is not good people that make it to heaven. Forgiven people make it to heaven, and broken people are the ones who really change their own lives and the lives of those around them”

Both Theists, Christians, Muslims, and atheists are wrong if they think that wickedness and evil, suffering and terror are not allowed personally by God. Every single action in the universe, and if such a thing exists, the multi-universe must be signed off at the desk of God Himself. No rock falls down a cliff in Budapest, no deer crosses a street in the middle of forests of Siberia, no electron circles an atom in Amman, without God allowing it.  Yes, that means that no hurricane, no tornado, no handgun goes off, without God knowing about it.  Job did not say, “The Lord gave and the devil took away!” No, when Job’s 10 children were killed, and all his property and wealth destroyed, he turned to the throne of God himself, saying,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

I write this with razor cuts on my own wrists and my soul of grief.  Tears flow, when I write that pain, hurt, suffering–and I will say this as academically as I can, sucks!

The Bible clearly asks, “does disaster befall a city unless the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6)? What about a hospital?  Yes, God ordained that too. He must if he exists and is omnipotent and omniscient.

I recognize what I’m assuming here. It is hard.  I’ve wept with my cousin when his brother, father of four drowned in the Lake Michigan, as he fell off a cruise ship. I was with others as they as they stood helplessly as their child suffered and died slowly from cancer.  I’ve watched on the verge of madness as an elder I dearly loved, died slowly and how he refused to see his own sins and repent before he died.

Yes, God is supreme Lord over over all the universe, including the hurricane in Texas and the pain over my dear friend’s broken marriage.

Are we really to believe that God allows these things to happen?  How can we not, if God exists?   God cannot be God unless all things are under his authority. All things and I mean all things.  John Piper argues that all things include…

This ‘all things’ includes the fall of sparrows (Matt 10:29), the rolling of dice (Prov 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Ps 44:11), the decisions of kings (Prov 21:1), the failing of sight (Exod 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Sam 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Sam 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Pet 4:19), the completion of travel plans (Jas 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Heb 12:4–7), the repentance of souls (2 Tim 2:25), the gift of faith (Phil 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Phil 3:12–13), the growth of believers (Heb 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Sam 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27–28). (John Piper, “Why I Do Not Say ‘God Did Not Cause This Calamity, But He Can Use It For Good’”)

All things that have existed, exist and will exist —including weaknesses and evil—are appointed by an unbelievably perfect and all-knowledgeable God to make the beauty of Jesus illuminate the universe more and more brightly–and you can enjoy that beauty and delight in it forever!  John Piper said it best.  “God is more glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him!”

See this amazing trailer for a book on Job by John Piper. The poetry is amazing!!

I do not presume to know why God allows evil or wickedness or pain and suffering to happen to person X in situation Y.  We could not presume on the Almighty why he allows a particular person to suffer or why we personally suffer.

Now, if we are in sin, or have done obviously problematic things that lead to where we are, we can have an idea. But baring this we cannot know.  But we can, from Scripture, see some possible reasons why He does allow, in general, some suffering.

Remember, as I write this that God would allow himself to be beaten, torched, hurt, battered, bled and betrayed and even killed.

A possibility is that God uses suffering as the back door to growth on your part.  Consider the illustration of the bronze snake.

In Numbers 21:5-9

4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

Jesus explained, in John 3:14 & 15, that just as the Israelites were cured if their illness looking at the snake that Moses put up, all people today can be delivered from the sickness of sin by trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection. 
The snake is the beast that can potentially kill you.  But it was also used as the instrument that can heal you as well.
Your pain can be a snake, that wounds you that tears you apart. But it is also the one thing that God uses to strengthen and grow you like nothing before!  Is that not interesting!!?

As you work your way through suffering, remember: God will not allow one incident to happen to you, no matter how inconsequential, if you love Jesus, that will not be used for your good in one way or another.  That is His promise.  “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

Consider the evidence that shows that people who come out of suffering, and allow God to use it to transform them, are much better because of it.  I know that sounds harsh when you are in the pain, but it is true. Consider the work of psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun.  The write that

However, in recent years, psychologists have become aware of phenomenon known as ‘post-traumatic growth.’ This term was originally coined by the psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, who interviewed many people who had suffered traumatic life-events such as bereavement, serious illness (such as cancer), housefires, combat and becoming refugees. They found that, for many of these people, dealing with this trauma was a powerful spur for personal development. It wasn’t just a question of learning to cope with or adjust to negative situations; they actually gained some significant benefits from them. In Tedeschi and Calhoun’s terms, they experienced ‘positive life changes.’ They gained a new inner strength, and discovered skills and abilities they never knew they possessed. They became more confident and appreciative of life, particularly of the ‘small things’ that they used to take for granted. They became more compassionate for the sufferings of others, and more comfortable with intimacy, so that they had deeper and more satisfying relationships. One of the most common changes was that they developed a more philosophical or spiritual attitude to life. In Tedeschi and Caohoun’s words, their suffering led them to a ‘deeper level of awareness.’


Let’s consider, one of the Baldwin brothers, Stephen Baldwin!  ’He has on his neck 3:30. tattooed on the back of his neck. It stands for John 3.30. “I must decrease so that he may increase.”

He is the youngest sibling of the Baldwins!  It was after 9/11.  That He came to know God and Jesus. It was all through his amazing Brazilian nanny singing about Jesus in Portuguese in from of his wife Kennya.

“Stephen Baldwin said Jesus Christ has given him peace and made him a better father and husband. “And I couldn’t do that unless I had some understanding of what God’s will was for me,” said Baldwin, who is now 50. “And again, I only have that understanding because I know what it’s based on, which is the Bible, and I read it every day.”” …“My point is simply this: I believe I have a calling. Do you know what that calling is? To stand up in a new and hardcore, radical way for the Lord. In the process, if I insult a couple of people, if I offend a couple of people, and if I got to shake it up a little bit, as long as it is led by the Holy Spirit, amen.”  See https://www.christiantoday.com/article/dwayne.the.rock.johnson.says.his.faith.in.god.helped.him.overcome.depression/72304.htm

I close with this thought by C.S. Lewis

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
–Dear Professor Sweis, I have been reading Bart D. Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus. And my faith is shaken!  I thought that his attack on the Bible is so well informed that he has damaged my faith. My question is, do we really not have the original copies of the manuscripts of the Bible?  Are we really making all this stuff up? And what does this mean for us Christians? 
–In this PODCAST (you can click on it below or in iTunes) I answer this question!
I also address it in a talk I gave at Logos Church starting around 1:16:48 of 2:15:45. 
Also, see this site to help you address Bart Ehrman’s work.

Do you have a question?

Send it to Khaldoun@logicallyfaithful.com