Just as God is with us

January 25, 2016

In the introduction to yesterday's Illuminate study on Psalm 73, Julie Anderson reminds us that "there is nothing like suffering to bring up doubts about God's sovereignty." Just as the psalmist is concerned that "arrogant and wicked people are often spared suffering," I find myself wondering - especially in the face of hardship - whether God plays fair. I'm not the only one. 

Julie, for instance, knows about suffering. She is part of a teaching team that works with middle school students at her home church, an age group that is uniquely attuned to how hostile the world can be, an age group that includes some of the loneliest people I know. These students want to know if God sees them, if God cares about them. And even when we assure middle school youth that God loves them, they wonder, "But does he like me?"

Julie doesn't find an answer to suffering in this psalm, but she does offer a way forward, noting that as the psalmist "worships God, he rests in the fact that relationship with God" is what matters. That God does like him. That God is with him in his suffering. Just as God is with us.

Back in November 2008, the EFC-NA Christian Education Commission met in Canton, Ohio, to discuss - among other things - the possibility for creating "non-dated group study materials" to be used alongside or potentially to replace the Adult Friend quarterly. A year later, the commission agreed at a meeting in Canby, Oregon, that Barclay Press should move forward with this curriculum as a Bible centered replacement of the older quarterly: "We also approved the name change to Illuminate with Dan [McCracken] having the final decision on the name, based on research." Today, the Illuminate guidebooks offer an entry point for Bible study to nearly 3,000 groups and individuals almost every single week.

Eric Muhr