Why Seasons of Suffering Can Be God’s Protection

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Reflections from Beautiful Exchange Book Retreat by Maria Haw

Excerpts from COUNTERFEIT GODS by Timothy Keller:
⭐ “Idolatry is when good things become our ultimate things”
⭐ “Idolatry is anything I seek to give me what only God can give me”
⭐ “Co-dependency is idolatry”
⭐ “Whatever my idols are… I will love, trust, and obey them”
⭐”Whatever controls us is our lord” What we seek, strongly desire to have will eventually control us”
⭐ “We need to discern the idols of our hearts so we can confess them, repent from them, and turn back to God as our ultimate source of everything”

We love God too little compared to how we love our idols/counterfeit gods
⭐”All idolatry is destructive”
⭐ “Idols enslave”
⭐ “We stop making something/someone an idol when we are willing to live without it and say
‘Because I have God, I can live without you [the idol]’”- This is a tough one because it’s hard for me to live without money and the comfort I’ve become familiar with. Money will be an idol if I become enslaved by acquiring it, disobey God in order to have it, worry over it, love it more than I love God.

When we go through suffering/ problems like in marriage, finances, health, career, or business, we will become aware of our idols which we love, trust, obey and had made “the ultimate thing” / source of happiness/ meaning in life.

I gained a new perspective on why a good and loving God allows pain and suffering; it is because God is dealing with the destructive idols of our hearts.

God is revealing these idols in our lives and giving us a chance to return to Him as we pray and ask for His help amidst our sufferings.

God loves us very much. He knows when a good thing is becoming the ultimate thing in our lives, He knows when a good thing is becoming a threat, a harm to us, He does not want us to be destroyed or be desperate when this good thing is gone (which will eventually happen in one way or another because only God is permanent in this world); that is why He intervenes and give us a chance to return to Him when our hearts are lost in loving something/someone too much more than we love Him.

Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as His child?

“My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes/scourges/chastises everyone he accepts as a child.” Hebrews 12:5‭-‬6 GNT

Just like Abraham was asked to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, it is to purify our hearts when a good thing becomes an idol in our lives…
when we love the good thing more than we love God.

In a way, God is protecting us from despair, depression, loss of hope, suicidal thoughts, and all that because God knows our hearts sometimes do not realize when we are loving our marriage, work, kids, family, more than we love God that when taken away from us (or not conforming to our expectations), we would be lost.

Uncontrolled love for something/ someone else other than God is destructive. If we seek happiness from husband, money, power and fame… if we desire it more than God, the happiness from husband, money, power and fame will eventually control us; it will be the master of our lives. Our decisions, reactions will be based on them.

God is protecting us because He knows nothing is permanent in this world; detaching ourselves from our idols is painful, but we need to because we need to love God above everything else.

***Phrases with ⭐ are from Timothy Keller’s book, COUNTERFEIT GODS

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