Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why does God allow misery and suffering?

When discussing God and His relationship to the world, one of the most often asked questions is this: ‘Why does He allow so much suffering and misery in this world?’ It’s a very good question. If you happen to discuss God with someone who doesn’t believe in Him, chances are that you will eventually be asked this question. A standard answer is that human beings invited sin into this world (Adam and Eve) and as a result, the world is in a fallen state. Because we’re living in a fallen world, bad things are going to happen to us. A more specific answer goes much deeper than this. In order to truly understand why God allows suffering and misery, you must begin to understand God’s character. A few months ago I was given a short article written by John Balukian that does an excellent job of answering this question. Who is John Balukian? As you will read, John was a simple man with terminal cancer who was given one last task to do before he left this world. As you will see, at first it seemed like a small thing to do. What John learned (as every Christian does) is that we’re asked to be obedient to our Creator regardless of how small or large we think the task may be. He will take care of the rest. We have no idea how our lives can impact others and God’s plan for this world – but He certainly does. Like every true man of God, John would tell you that this comes from the Lord - he is simply a servant doing what he is asked to do. This will be longer than most of my posts, but I feel strongly that the Lord has asked me to give this to you. As we near the end of this age, suffering and misery will get worse - we need to understand why.

Dear precious reader:

Regardless of what kind of person you are, regardless of what you have not done, in God’s eyes you are extremely precious. Bring to mind right now the most vile and repulsive person you can think of. Can the same be said of that person? Is that person extremely precious in God’s eyes? Absolutely, positively! What is it that makes a person precious? Connection with God. When the Creator has free access to the creature he will re-create the creature into His own precious image.

This is a letter of introduction to the article I am enclosing. Many people have been greatly helped by this humble article, so please pass it on that others may be helped. Thank you. This material may be reprinted, copied or re-used in any form so long as the original text is not altered or abridged in any way. This is not my message, so please do not change it. This is God’s doing. Those who know me know that I have no natural abilities of this kind and there’s no way under the sun that I could possibly write an article like this.

Briefly, about myself: After losing the battle with Lymphoma, I permanently checked into this Veterans Administration Medical Center Nursing Home in Fresno, California, as a terminal cancer patient with only a short time to live. I just could not understand why god would not heal me! I had diligently studied the laws of health, healing, prayer, faith, total commitment, etc. I was anointed twice by Godly men. And, on top of all this, I had great plans to give our message to thousands of winter visitors who come each year to the warm desert areas of Arizona and California. But human plans aren’t worth anything. The sooner we all learn this, the better.

The greatest surprise I have ever had in my life and the happiest that I have ever been was after my little world fell apart and I was admitted to this Nursing Home, waiting to die. This beautiful, generous gift that God gave to me – this article He impressed me to write – marvelously turned everything around for me. After having failed Him all my life, He very kindly and graciously gives me a gift like this! My parents certainly gave me the right name. In Hebrew, the name John means “God is gracious”. God has certainly been gracious to me. After I go to my “rest”, this paper will keep right on working. When I think of how kind, how generous and gracious God is, and how He is treating me, what can I do but just cry!

It all started when my former roommate told me he was an atheist. I told Charlie that in order for a person to come to an intelligent conclusion about anything, he would have to first look at all the facts – all the evidence. I asked him what evidence he examined that brought him to such a drastic conclusion that God did not exist.

Charlie related stories of tragedies and suffering in his family and friends. Then he concluded with, “If there is a God, would He allow things like this to happen to good people?” (He stressed the word good.) I said excitedly, “Charlie, I have an answer. Just read the first chapter in this book (“Why Was Evil Permitted?), and you will see this whole thing from an entirely different perspective.” His answer was, “No, I’m an atheist and I don’t believe in life here-after.” Poor Charlie. To think that 30 minutes of reading was too much trouble for him! It reminds me of the thousands who died because they refused to just look at the uplifted serpent [Numbers chapter 21]. It was at this time I decided to write a small article showing what God is like and why He had to allow sin and suffering to devastate this world. As I started writing, it was very evident that I was receiving Divine assistance. I had no idea of God’s plan to place this paper around the world. I only wrote it to be used here in the Nursing Home.

Two hours after I started handing out the papers here in the Nursing Home, a patient came to my room with tears in his eyes and told me how touched he was by reading my paper. He asked for written permission to make copies and pass them out. He’s from Atascadero, California. A sister is sending a copy to the Braille Foundation, and if they use it, it will go around the world. My pastor’s wife is sending a copy to the Pacific Press to see if they will put it in booklet form for colporteurs to place in Medical/Dental offices, etc. Many came back for extra copies to give out. Groups are passing them out in their door to door work.

In just a matter of three weeks I have had to broaden my thinking from a small local work here in this V.A. Medical Complex to a work that goes around the world. I am absolutely overwhelmed. I never expected anything like this! God is so good to me that I can hardly stand it. People have offered to give me money for this work. I really don’t want anyone’s money until I use up all my own. Thank you.

When a person sees God as He really is, a God with such unbelievable kindness toward one who is so undeserving, then that person’s prayers change from words to tears. Then the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair becomes the most beautiful story in the Bible [John, chapters 11 & 12). When you realize the true sacrifice of God – His willingness to die eternally for you, and your heart constantly overflowing with love and appreciation for Him, it is then that God’s purpose of allowing sin to devastate this world has been accomplished forever.

With my warmest regards,

John Balukian

Now, Do You Believe God?

In your opinion, who is the most controversial person who ever lived? Without a shadow of a doubt, it is God, Himself. Many see God as being tender-hearted, caring, highly sympathetic toward all His creatures and they see that He is not willing that any should perish. And they see that His love and feelings for them are so deep that He willingly allowed His Son to come down from heaven and become one of us and go through terrible sufferings and insults and die for every one of us so that if we wanted to, we could live forever.

Why Didn’t God Nip This Whole Thing In The Bud?

All this is very touching; however, a serious question must be answered before this makes any sense. Why didn’t God nip this whole thing in the bud and prevent all this terrible suffering and misery to come into our world? He could have done it and done it with ease. God knew what would happen if He allowed sin to come into our world, and yet He allowed it. Why?

Many people are puzzled over this and I was too. But now that I have the answer, I can see that what God is doing makes a lot of good sense. And certainly, God is very desirous for each of us to have an intelligent understanding of religion. In writing this little paper to answer this question and others, I am well aware that many different types of minds are reading it. I must be very careful and not take anything for granted and try to write this so clearly that everyone who reads it can’t help but understand.

In the Beginning….Love

So, let’s go back to the beginning and take a look at what life was like under God’s marvelous government of love. We will see also how this terrible problem of sin began and why God, very wisely, did not nip this whole thing in the bud; but allowed it to wreak havoc in this poor world for these last 6,000 years. The Bible tells us that God is love and also His character, law and government is love. The beautiful relationship of God with His children was also one of love. But now, really, what is love?

What is love?

It was after a number of years of being a struggling, up and down Christian that I began to really understand the meaning of this vital word. Love is a small word that is used in a wide range of meanings; from the Hollywood barnyard love to the outstanding sacrifice of God on the cross. Love has deep feelings and emotions. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, shares with us the beautiful and noble qualities of love. But in order to grasp a fuller understanding of this word, and how it relates to God’s government and people, let’s define love as a principle.

Illustration of a Principle

To make sure that everyone clearly understands what this word (principle) means, I’ll give an example: Remember the saying, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you”? It’s so easy to see the principle involved here and to understand what this word means. Say that your boss treats you harshly and unjustly. According to the principle that’s in this saying, how should you respond? Certainly not the same way he treated you. What a brilliant and beautiful idea. Think of the peace and harmony that would result from following such a simple principle!

The Principle of Love

Now, let’s define this principle that is in love and put it in one simple sentence so that no one can possibly misunderstand it. The greatest demonstration that was ever given, or could ever be given, was when God willingly suffered and died so that you and I would be able to live. We are talking about God – The majestic and awesome Creator of this whole vast universe! As if that isn’t enough to blow your mind, think on this: God was not only willing to die, but to die eternally just so that you could live eternally. (Jesus knew that He would rise up again to life after three days. But in His darkest temptation, when He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He did not know that he would ever live again, but He chose to save man at any price.) Dear reader, can you really grasp that? Would God die eternally just for Saddam Hussein? Absolutely! But why? Because this is exactly the type of person He is. God is love. He is this principle.

It is not difficult to see the principle in love, is it? When it came right down to choosing to save Himself or His children, He chose to save His children – and at what a terrible price! He put His children first and Himself second. So in one sentence, and in my own words, here is my definition of this principle: “Love is a principle that always puts the other person first.” What another brilliant and beautiful idea! With God and all His creatures living by this principle, no wonder heaven and the entire universe enjoyed such supreme happiness and experienced such peaceful harmony.

The Principle of Sin

But then a completely different principle raised its ugly head and the peace and harmony of the universe was shattered. In this principle, Self is put first instead of putting the other person first. It all began when Lucifer, the highest angel in heaven, wanted to become God. For him to pursue such an insane and impossible ambition, he had to first cast aside this beautiful principle of love and take hold of the principle of sin. So, we see that the principle of sin is self-seeking, selfishness, putting one’s own desires ahead of God’s desires and everyone else’s. Now we have two entirely different and directly opposite principles operating in this world and they are totally incompatible.

The Deadly Blindness of Sin

This raises a very interesting question. What could possibly be the reason why a created being would dare stand up in opposition to his Creator and actually believe that he could take over His throne? We are referring to God, the One who created this whole vast universe; the One who has unlimited power and authority; the One who knows the end from the beginning. And, on top of that, Lucifer knew that to be God, one has to have creative power – power to create something out of nothing. This same power is necessary to sustain all creation. If this power was cut off, the entire universe would immediately disintegrate, which of course, would mean his own death too. And yet Lucifer still wanted it and vigorously pursued it. Why? It just doesn’t make any sense!

Lucifer was not a dummy or a slouch. He was the most brilliant, intelligent, talented, and beautiful of all angels; and also had the highest position (right next to the throne of God). Without even realizing it, Lucifer made a fatal mistake by pushing aside God’s principle of love and taking hold of the selfish principle of sin. What happened when he did that? He actually separated himself from God. Since God is the very source of all light, truth and wisdom; all good judgment, common sense and balanced thinking; when Lucifer turned away, he lost all of this and stepped right into darkness. He was now blind. He became unreasonable and unbalanced in his thinking.

God’s Way of Keeping Pride Out of Our Hearts

If Lucifer had remembered one thing and had taken it to heart, he would not have gotten proud and possibly this whole problem of sin would not have arisen. I mentioned the noble qualities that Lucifer had; his brilliance, beauty, talents, position, etc. Where did he get these? God gave them to him. Every good thing that Lucifer had was a gift from a gracious God. A deadly problem arose when Lucifer began to think of all these beautiful and noble qualities and characteristics that he had as being his naturally rather than as precious gifts from God. That opened wide the door to pride. Pride always brings self into the picture and puts it first. This is the very principle of sin. What a lesson for us! If we would never let go of the idea that every good thing we have is a loving gift from a gracious Creator, we would shut the door to deadly pride.

Who is Telling the Truth – The Creator or the Creature?

Getting back to our original question: Why didn’t God nip this whole thing in the bud by simply putting Lucifer to death? Look at all the terrible misery He could have avoided. Wouldn’t you have done just that if you were in charge? Not if you were able to see the end from the beginning, as God is able. Suppose you were there witnessing all of this. On one side is God, whom you love and worship. Opposing God is Lucifer, whom you respect and admire. God says one thing and Lucifer says the opposite. Who are you going to believe? Remember now, you had never heard a lie before; you have no idea what sin is really like; and certainly to accept the idea that Lucifer, if given the opportunity, would go so far as to actually kill God, would be unthinkable to you!

In this situation, if you saw God kill Lucifer, what would you think? You would consider God to be totally unreasonable and unfair. In fact, you would begin being looked at as a tyrant. You would not serve God any longer because you loved and appreciated Him, but would serve Him because you became afraid of Him. God wants us always to be free, happy and trusting.

God’s Children Were Created to Fully Appreciate Him

Let’s take a closer look at God’s situation. If God had created His children to be mere robots, there would be no problem. All He would have to do would be to program their computers to never sin again. God would never have to be concerned about His children disobeying Him or rebelling. But who would want children like that? God wants His children to have the highest type of life and to never stop growing and developing. In order to have this type of children, God created us in His own image. He created us with the ability to reason things out and come to intelligent conclusions. God gave us a heart that could fully appreciate Him and spontaneously respond to His love and kindness. He made us free.

Change of Name to Fit the Character

When Lucifer rebelled, God changed his name to fit his character. Lucifer means “Light Bearer”, Satan means “Adversary”. So, from now on, I will refer to Lucifer as Satan. Satan toured the vast universe and with great piety and carelessness, he cleverly spread vicious lies about our gracious God. This brought in untold confusion and perplexity. I must remind you again that no one had ever heard a lie before. This will help you to understand why there was such serious perplexity. So we see the deep damage that Satan did by planting the seeds of disturbing suggestions and doubts in the minds of all.

Sin Shall Never Rise Up Again

God promises that after this terrible experience of sin is over, that sin shall never rise up again. Never! Is it because God will not allow it to happen again? No, that would be defeating His purpose. His children are always free to sin any time they want to, but no one will ever want to. Because all these disturbing seeds of doubt have been completely removed and absolute trust and admiration for their gracious God has been fully restored. Since God never used fear or force, what means does He use to accomplish this miraculous feat?

Truth is God’s Weapon

Let’s sharpen the focus. In Genesis 3:4, Satan contradicts God and calls Him a liar. The issue in this controversy is not who has the greater power or anything like that, but the issue is who is telling the truth. Truth is on God’s side. Satan is deathly afraid of truth because it exposes his lies and deceptions and this will definitely be the cause of his total defeat.

What is the topic we hear most about today? Isn’t it how bad everything is getting? Crime, sickness, the insane legislative policies of our politicians, etc. Who wants this type of life? It all started when Lucifer began telling lies about our gracious God. This undermined confidence in God. Before this whole problem of sin can be resolved permanently, total confidence in God must be restored. Truth restores. The truth about God’s character; how He feels about His children; the unspeakable sacrifice and suffering He is willing to go through to save us, and many other truths.

Do You Really Know What Faith Is?

I have come to the place where I don’t take anything for granted anymore. This little word, faith, for instance, is extremely important (“Righteousness by faith”, “Justification by faith”, “Salvation by faith”, etc.). If we don’t understand what this word means, then how are we going to understand how faith in God is restored? I know people who have been Christians many years who flunked this easy, simple, homely test.

Sally was driving through Death Valley in the month of August with the temperature over 120 degrees. All of a sudden, her car quits. After waiting for several tormented hours, a car pulls up with one man in it who is a total stranger. Immediately, another car stops with one man and she knows him real well. He is her pastor. Now, for Sally to best demonstrate what faith is, which car should she get into – the car of the stranger or the car of the friend? You might be thinking, “What kind of question is that? Of course she is going to get into the car of her friend.” But wait a moment. We are trying to clarify what faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So now, once again, for Sally to best demonstrate what faith is, which car shall she get into, the car of the stranger or the car of the friend?

If you hesitated to answer, chances are you don’t really know what faith is. True faith is not blind. True faith is based upon evidence. How could Sally possibly determine if the stranger could be trusted if she had no experience, no evidence by which to judge him? She couldn’t. She had ample evidence that her friend could be trusted. So in order for Sally to best demonstrate what faith is, she could get in the car of the friend. In order for God to completely gain the faith of His children, He had to give them the evidence upon which they could intelligently judge Him. He gave them mountains of evidence during these past several thousand years which came to a convincing climax upon the cross.

The Cross Tells a Convincing Story

The entire universe looked on in total shock and in complete silence as they watched their Creator dying on the cross. With His last living breath He managed to cry out, “It is finished.” Then He died. At that very moment, God came off victorious. How can that be since He is the One who died? As the universe looked on, their sorrow turned into heart-warming joy as they saw and suddenly realized the truth about God’s willingness to pay the supreme price of dying eternally for his children. This beautiful truth they witnessed with their own eyes, completely removed every trace of doubt that satan planted with the lie; that God did not have His children’s best interest at heart. The truth revealed how fantastic our gracious God is. Their hearts were so touched and filled with love and affection for their gracious God that nothing could ever change it.

Let’s go back to the beginning again and let’s say that God did nip this whole thing in the bud by putting Lucifer to death. We know that this act of God would have been totally unacceptable to you. But how about when you stood before the cross in absolute shock and watched your Creator die? Here is 4,000 years of undisputed evidence and demonstration of how far Lucifer would go and, on top of that, the demonstration of the terrible malignancy of sin. Now, you can see clearly that if God had put Lucifer to death at the beginning, you would have wholeheartedly agreed that He did the right thing. It’s too bad that God had to take the long and painful way around, but it’s the only way that His children could understand.

Sin is insanity

We need to take a closer look at sin to see what it really is. Here is another homely illustration: A scorpion wanted to get on the other side of the pond. He asked a turtle swimming by to take him over on his back. The turtle replied, “Do you think I’m crazy? You would sting me and I would die.” The scorpion said, “Do you think I’m crazy? If you died, I would die too, because I can’t swim.” The turtle thought for a moment and then said, “You’re right. Nobody would be that crazy! Get on my back and I’ll take you across.” When they were about halfway across the pond, the turtle felt a sickening sting on the back of his neck. He turned his head and said, “Why in the world did you do that?” The scorpion replied, “I just couldn’t help it, it’s my nature.”

Why would the most intelligent angel in the universe kill God, since it is God who gives Him life moment by moment? It certainly doesn’t make any sense, does it? The Bible defines sin in several ways, but my personal definition is: Sin is insanity!

A Law of the Mind

It’s a law of the mind that we will become like the one we worship and admire. It’s terribly important then that we know what kind of person our God is. Jesus warned His disciples in John 16:2-3 “Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” Why will these persecutors resort to violence? Because they think God is this way. God does not force anyone’s conscience. He wins hearts by his gentleness and love. What do you think of a God who created this whole vast universe; who has all this power and authority, yet He is so humble that He willingly washed twelve pairs of filthy feet when His disciples refused to do it? This appeals to me to no end. God is the most humble person in all this universe because He lives by the beautiful principle of love. God always puts the other person first and Himself second.

The true God of heaven appealed to the hearts of His rebellious children with kindness and love. He didn’t use a sword! There are millions of people who believe that the end justifies the means by using force in God’s work. This is what a band of religious fanatics had in mind when they rode into the town of ErZurum over a hundred years ago. They came to take the life of the Christian minister if he did not yield to their wishes. They were not familiar with the weapons of kindness and love. Their weapons were force and fear. They were out to force the Christians to change their beliefs.

They were highly disappointed when they learned that the minister had died. So they did the next best thing by taking the minister’s widowed wife and her three little girls to the town square. Surrounding this poor widow they all drew out their huge, wicked knives. The leader, raising his voice demanded that she renounce Christ and declare before all these people that Mohammed was the true prophet of God.

Everyone knew what would happen if she refused, and with tears they begged her to comply. Speaking in Armenian so that these men couldn’t understand, they said, “We know you love Jesus. God knows you love Him. Please, please do what they say and save your life. Think of your children!” Oh, what terrible pressure! Standing before her were her three little girls petrified with fear. The oldest girl was my mother.

The Sword Never Wins

But my Grandmother didn’t put herself first, she put her God first. She had learned the principle of love. Raising her voice and speaking in perfect Turkish, my Grandmother said, “I believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.” Without a moment’s hesitation they slashed her to the ground and hacked off her head. My mother’s tender mind was affected for the rest of her life. I remember while growing up, whenever my mother thought of her mother, she would cry.

The Basic Reason Why a Church Would Turn to the State for Power

What would you say would be the basic reason why a church or religious organization would turn to the state (government) for power to force others to accept their religious teachings? Is it because they don’t have power – the Holy Spirit (the power of God)? Why don’t they have the power of God? Because God uses only one kind of power – Love. His method is winning the heart, not forcing the conscience with threats and fear. God’s method of winning hearts is simply putting the other person first. God always has that person’s best interests at heart and He is willing to go through any amount of suffering and to pay any price to save that person. He is not willing that any should be lost. How can a sincere, honest person fight against that?

What Makes a Person Savable?

Just what is it that makes a person savable anyway? The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in 1 Corinthians 13 that even a person loaded with talent, doing God’s work with zeal, making tremendous sacrifices by putting all his means in the work and even going as far as giving his body to be burned is not savable if he does not have love. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why. Love is a principle that always puts the other person first. God and all His children live by this principle. If you refuse to live by this principle, you couldn’t possibly fit in. You would be out of harmony with the entire universe.

Love is a Gift from a Gracious God

God is very reasonable and understanding. He generously gives us everything that He requires of us. We need love? He will see to it that we have it. Every good thing that we have or will need now and throughout all eternity will be given to us as a gift from a generous and gracious God. We are absolutely dependent upon God for everything and always will be.

There Are Only Two People in Religion

Now we come to the bottom line. The sharp focus is on only two persons: you and God. Oh, if I had only done this years ago I would have avoided many disappointments and discouragements. Never again am I going to allow my religion to become complicated or confusing. One to one contact with God, forming a bond and friendship that can never be broken, is actually what religion is all about. It’s just that simple. Just imagine, the very best friend you have is the One who created this whole vast universe. Wow! Can you bend your mind around that?

Another thing I find extremely helpful is to personify a text. Take Romans 6:14 for example: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” I love the strong, positive, emphatic way this is put. To me, this is saying that, in no way will sin dominate me. Then it goes on to tell why. When I read this text, this is the picture that comes to my mind: I am standing before the law, which I picture as a huge giant, towering over me. I’m a sinner and condemned to die. There is absolutely nothing I can do to appease him or to escape. But the text says that I am under grace. To me, grace means that I’m being treated, not as I deserve, but with unlimited kindness and generosity. There is no such thing as grace without there being behind it a very gracious person. I see, standing nearby, this most gracious person. He says to me, “You’re in deep trouble, but I can help you. Do you want Me to help you?” I say, “Please do.” So, He steps in between me and this giant and He puts His arm around me. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after flesh, but after the spirit.” [Romans 8:11].

The Most Precious Moment of Our Life

At that precious moment, I am safe to save – I am savable. The moment that I accept God’s gracious offer to take over my life and to personally be my Savior, everything is right between God and myself and not one person in all this universe can say anything against me. The law has nothing against me now, because God has taken full responsibility for my becoming fit for heaven. God paid the full price for me by living a life without sinning and by His death, so that I can go clean and free. What a precious gift! And what a precious Savior!

How Can God Save Saddam Hussein?

Saddam Hussein has been portrayed (especially by the West) as being an exceptionally cruel national leader who would not only be willing to exterminate all the Kurds, but would enforce cruelty on his own people to achieve personal power and prestige. He has a lot of blood on his hands! (by the way, does God love Saddam Hussein as much as He loves Mother Teresa? Of course He does!) Say that the Holy Spirit is able to touch Saddam Hussein’s heart and, miraculously, he accepts God’s gracious offer. He is willing now to have God take complete charge of his life and also to take full responsibility of fitting him for heaven. Now, let’s see how God does this.

Saddam Has No Sins?

That’s exactly right! As soon as God is allowed to take over Saddam’s life (and how is this accomplished? Simply by Saddam praying and requesting that God will take over his life and really meaning it), He takes away all of Saddam’s sins. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Romans 8:1]. This text means exactly what it says. God not only takes away Saddam’s sins and completely frees him of the responsibility of all the sins he ever committed, but he graciously restores Saddam to his God-given dignity. How is this accomplished? Simply by connection – connection with God. (It’s like a branch that’s connected to the vine). It’s a precious gift from a gracious God. Every good thing we have, or ever will have through all eternity, is a gift of love from our loving Creator. Sad to say, Lucifer lost hold of this precious truth. The wonderful and noble qualities of wisdom, beauty, talents, position, etc., that he possessed, he started regarding these as his naturally, instead of precious gifts from God. We are not only seeing, but feeling, the disastrous results.

Day by day, the more Saddam walks with his God, the more thrilled he becomes as he sees the type of person God is. He sees God as a fantastic person who actually has his best interest at heart. As a national leader, Saddam always put himself first and his people second. What a contrast! And you can be sure that Satan spread enough lies about God to give the people the impression that God was totally selfish and arbitrary. As I mentioned before, truth is on God’s side. As the truth is known about God, there will be such a heart appreciation for this type of God that no one will ever want God to be any different. They will be thrilled to follow Him throughout eternity. This is why sin shall not rise up again – EVER!

One of Heaven’s Greatest Surprises

One of the greatest surprises that heaven will have for us is learning how much it costs God to get us there. Besides God paying a price on the cross that will never be fathomed, God has suffered unmerciful abuse, insults and criticisms of all kinds. He is blamed and cursed for everything. Here, at the nursing home, if the kitchen forgets to put a slab of margarine on a tray, God is cursed. God is even blamed for all the forest fires. In legal circles, it’s called “An Act of God”.

Years ago, I was working with a number of other different tradesmen in a building. Usually, on a job like this, there is a certain amount of swearing going on. But, on this particular day, it seemed that almost everyone was having a problem and God was getting blamed for it all. The cursing was so bad that I stopped my work and just listened. I thought to myself, “If there is this much cursing arising out of this one building, how much is rising out of the whole town of Paso Robles?” I had a very impressive picture of God in deep sorrow, bending over the world in loving concern. With this picture in mind, I visualized millions and millions of angry voices in every language and dialect, in every part of the world, cursing God. There is a deafening roar of curses constantly ascending up and hitting our gracious Creator right in the face.

But love is stronger than hate, and God is bent on saving us no matter what the cost; no matter how much pain He has to suffer; no matter how much He is insulted; no matter how much He is falsely accused; no matter how much He is hated and rejected. Satan would have us to believe that God doesn’t care, but the very opposite is the truth. For 6,000 years our gracious Creator has been lavishing His love upon us under such repulsive conditions. After 6,000 years of presenting all of this evidence – this mountainous amount of visual demonstration, God has one question for you: “Now do you believe me?”

Suffering is Priceless

One of the best things that ever happened to me was when I became terminally ill. When I got sick and was suffering, it made God’s suffering very real to me. I was absolutely overwhelmed that the Majesty of this whole vast universe with all His power and authority would even care about a person like me, let alone go through all that He was going through to save me. God could not reveal His love for me any more powerfully or effectively than by His sacrifice and suffering. This kind and gracious person touched my heart. My religion now is a person. My religion is a God.

Welcome Home

Do you think that you could find one person in God’s vast universe who would be willing to trade places with you, no matter what your condition or how much you are suffering? The beautiful truth is that you could not find even one person who would not be willing to trade places with you. How do I know this? I know this because God is love and love is a principle that puts the other person first. All of God’s children live by this beautiful principle of love. The entire government of God is based on this wonderful principle.

No matter who you are, no matter what kind of life you have lived here, there will be an experience for you in heaven that is one of supreme happiness and total acceptance. Whether you are looking into the eyes of your Creator or rubbing shoulders with the Holy Angels, one message will come through to you loud and clear, WELCOME HOME!!

John Balukian
V.A. Nursing Home


John Balukian went to his rest in Jesus on September 27, 1994. One of John’s favorite Bible verses can be found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

John’s strength and courage and hope came from a firm belief in this promise. Rest well, Friend.
It’s hard for us to understand sometimes, but the truth is that we (human beings) invited sin into this world. God gave us a perfect world and we invited satan and sin into it. God did not create a fallen world for us, the world was originally without sin. What you see around you everyday is the result of our fateful decision – violence, death, destruction, misery, etc. We brought this misery upon ourselves. You may think that this was Adam and Eve’s fault, not yours…but we make similar choices everyday. Instead of walking the narrow path and choosing God’s will for our lives and following His paths, we instead choose our own way and choose to sin against our Creator. Fortunately for us, our Creator loves us so much that He has provided all of us a way back to Him. Regardless of what you’ve done, regardless of what is happening in the world....He loves you and wants you to know Him. There is only one way to Him, through faith that His Son Jesus gave His life for you. You do not need anything in this world to be saved. You do not need a church, a pastor, a priest or a religious ritual. True men of God can help you, guide you and teach you, but they can’t save you. The same is true of God’s church. It’s important to remain close to believers, but simply being in close proximity to God’s children will not save you. Only you can believe in God’s offer of salvation and accept it. How do you do this? You can do what I did. Pray to your Father in Heaven. Go someplace by yourself where it is quiet, fall on your knees, and tell Him that you believe that Jesus died for you, that you want to know Him, to see Him, to become what He created you to be. He will hear you. Tell Him your fears, ask Him for stronger faith, for understanding….to be more like Him. Ask Him for help against our enemy. Seek Him. If you truly want to know Him, you will find Him. Believe in the Truth that is Jesus Christ. Pray everyday…..and then listen. Pay attention to the quiet, still voice inside you, pay attention to the circumstances in your life. Expect Him to reveal Himself to you. He knew everything about you before you were ever born….your strengths and weaknesses. He will strengthen your faith, transform you and show you your true purpose….regardless of what you’ve done in your past. He will replace the sand that has been the foundation of your life with the Rock that is Jesus Christ. Your fear of this world will fade away and you will be set free. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Mathew 7:24-27.

It’s not always easy to look past the misery in this world to His kingdom, but that’s what we must do. We must never lose the hope that exists for us. It doesn’t matter how bad things get here, our Father has prepared a place for us in Heaven….never forget this. I’m writing this post in April 2007. I don’t know when you are reading this, but I do know that the Lord has given me these words to give to you. You are reading these words because the Lord is communicating to you….specifically to you. I am simply a humble messenger, doing what I’m asked to do.

Regardless of how bad things may get in this fallen world, never forget:

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" 1 Corinthians 2:9.

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