God's Holy Spirit is moving upon the earth in a supernatural way giving us insight and revelations about how much He really loves us, and what real love means. God is Love. To know God is to know love.

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Chapter 2 of the book
"Seeking God Finding Love"


IF GOD IS LOVE, WHY ALL THE SUFFERING ?

      People who don't know God always ask Christians this question. If God is a good God how can he allow all the pain and suffering that is in the world? Some people tend to think of God as a chess player and that we are the pawns. Even Christians sometimes do not understand why God allows certain things to happen, and they are scared of what He may allow to happen to them. But when you really know God through experiencing His love fear is replaced by faith.  (1 John 4:18 NKJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

      In response to the question about why does God allow suffering in the world? Christians will often give the answer that it is the devils fault. But that answer does not satisfy someone who desires to really believe in God, because if God is not in ultimate control of the universe, then He is not God. But God is God, and He is in control of the universe, and He dose know the future. When God created Lucifer He knew what was going to happen. The fact is Satan is an attack dog, but God holds his leash. Remember the story of Job; Satan could only do what God gave him permission to do. All the terrible things that happened to Job were for Jobs benefit. Job came to know God and trust Him more than ever through the temporary sufferings he endured. (Job 42:5 KJV) I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

      When we know God we trust Him no matter what, because we know that everything works together for our good. (Romans 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Job’s knowledge of God caused him to have total faith in God, no matter how bad his temporary suffering was. (Job 13:15 KJV)  Though He slays me, yet will I trust Him.

      When you do know God you trust Him, you have faith not fear, because you know God does not play chess, He works love in the form of compassion. Everything came from love and everything will end in love, God is love. As I said before I believe that the reason for evil, pain, and suffering is so God can reveal His loving compassion to us and rescue us from the evil. (John 9:2-3 KJV)  And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? {3} Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

      Word was sent to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. Jesus replied that the sickness was for the glory of God. (John 11:4 NKJV) When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." The glory of God is the manifestation and revelation of his love; God is glorified in circumstances that demonstrate His compassionate love, and His rescuing power.

      God sees the beginning from the end; He knows the whole picture. The worst physical circumstance of suffering may lead to physical death. But when a Christian gets sick if God does not heal them on earth the only thing that can happen is that their body dies and they go to heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:55 NLT)  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" Christians always get healed, either here on earth or in a far better place.     

      Another reason God allows suffering is so that we can reveal God's loving compassion to others by being a vessel of His compassion, through meeting the needs of others. If people did not have any needs then there could not be any demonstrations of compassion. If we lived in a blissful perfect world would we know what compassion was? Would we be able to act in, and demonstrate, and experience compassion?

    God sometimes allows us to endure trials, tribulations, and sufferings so that we can have empathy with other people going through the same. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. {5} For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

      Jesus Himself suffered like we do so that we can know that He has compassion for us and the sufferings that we endure. (Hebrews 2:17-18 NIV) For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. {18} Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

      The perspective of only seeing things with a physical earthly view puts great limitations on a persons understanding of God. Let us suppose a person was born with a major physical problem that caused them to suffer in pain for 120 years, their whole life span, and then they died and went to heaven to spend eternity with God in paradise. Would the 120 years of suffering on earth compare to eternity in heaven? (Romans 8:18 NKJV)  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

      The Christian life is never boring. (Psalms 34:19 KJV)  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Christians travel to the highest mountains and the lowest valleys in life. One thing that I have learned is that when I am in the valley just ahead is a mountain top experience, and when I am on the mountaintop I don't get prideful because I know a valley is my next destination. It seems that the deeper the valley, the higher the mountain, and the higher the mountain, the deeper the valley. The time to set goals is when you are on the spiritual mountain top because that is when your spiritual vision will be greater because you can see further, when in the valley your vision is restricted. The Lord may show you things, and speak words to you while on the mountaintop that will sustain you while going through the valley.

      I think the mountains and valleys of the Christian life have to do with helping us learn to trust God and focus on Him in every situation. This also helps keep us from getting prideful. If we were always on the top of the mountain it would be difficult to stay humble, and if always in the valley we would become discouraged. But God as a good parent is gentle with us, and through it all we learn to trust Him in ever increasing faith, as His love becomes more real to us and in us. Jesus tells us in John chapter 15 that the Father prunes us so that we will bare more fruit, pruning is painful but it is for our benefit. (1 Peter 5:10 NIV) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

      While on the spiritual mountaintop it is the time that we are most vulnerable to pride. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NKJV)  And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. {8} Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. {9} And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. {10} Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. God’s grace is strongest in our weaknesses because it is as at those times that we seek God and receive His strength.

      Man is created in the image of God so that we can have a personal relationship with Him. Our natural tendency is be our own god, which is pride. God sometimes humbles us so that we can accept Him as our God, and reject pride. (Isaiah 29:19 NKJV)  The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel. Pride is depending upon yourself and giving yourself the credit, humility is depending upon God and giving God the credit. In humility we give up our right to be our own god. In humility we accept God as God and submit to Him. Pride causes separation from God; humility causes us to become unified with Him.

      Of course there are times that we suffer because of our own sin. Because of God’s great love He disciplines us when we need it for our own benefit. God’s discipline helps us to leave the path of self-destruction and get back on the path of God’s blessings. (Hebrews 12:4-6 NIV)  In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. {5} And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, {6} because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

The Meeting

 

      In my heart I have always seen myself being married to a loving supportive wife and having children whose hearts are toward God. Feeling the pressure of time, loneliness, and people when I was thirty-five years old I decided to look for a Christian girl in Asia to write to, and maybe it would work out for marriage. I had seen ads in the paper giving information to send for a catalog. I had never met the right girl before and I felt I would know when I did. God must have someone for me out of six billion people on the planet. I had always been attracted to Asian women but had little contact with any before in Idaho. I also liked the cultures and their traditional values and close family relationships. I had always thought that I would some day travel to Asia and meet the right girl that God had for me, but until then maybe I could write and at least start a friendship with someone new in a different culture.

      I received a catalog with Philippine girls in it and picked out some Protestant girls that sounded compatible with me. But then I thought this is too important for me to do the selecting, so I went to God in prayer. One girl always came to mind when I prayed, she was not one of my first choices, but I always had peace when I prayed about her. I sent for information to write her and four other girls, five was the minimum you could purchase information for. But she was the only one I felt godly peace about, the only one I would write to. So I wrote an introduction to her about myself.

      When her first letter arrived it seemed like she was the one. We were very compatible, and I liked the way she expressed herself. She was a good Christian girl from a good family. She also sent a picture of herself and she was much more beautiful than in the catalog. Her name was Gina, I call her Gina Mona Lisa because she had eyes like the Mona Lisa painting, but she is much prettier. She told me about her family and that she was a public health nurse. She said that she was, "Glad to know that I was a Christian and that I put God first in my life too." She said that her family was not materially rich but they have learned to live by faith especially when they had some family trials and all they could lean on was God, and that has made her believe on Him more and more." I thought a girl that has ever increasing faith, surely she is the one God has for me.

      We continued writing each other and even talked on the phone many times, with each letter and each call my heart grew more fond of her, more and more she seemed to be the one God would have me marry. We thought alike about most every subject it seemed. I would ask her many questions and liked her answers, and she also asked me many things and I answered her with honesty. I enjoyed her sense of humor and I could tell that she was very intelligent. One time she wrote me about one of her patients, a man who lived in a pigpen because the family had no room for him in their home. He got very ill near to death and she prayed for him, he recovered and she was thanking God. I thought a woman with compassion; surely this is the one the Lord has for me.

      In October of 1996 we applied to immigration for a fiancée visa for her to come to the United States, it was denied because we had not personally met each other. I was greatly disappointed. I did not believe it would be possible for me to travel to the Philippines because of my small business, which depends on me tremendously. But I started to think about the possibility. About a month later I decided to go at Christmas time. I sold half of the company to my brother and made him my partner; the other employees would need all the help they could get while I was gone. I was used to running the whole operation by myself, and so were the customers and employees.

      I arrived in Iloilo City on Christmas day 1996. The weather was beautiful and the one-hour flight from Manila was smooth. When I walked into the airport there were many people to greet the passengers, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen was waving at me while standing next to her sister. I thought that girl is too pretty there must be another one waiting for me. I was so embarrassed she was too radiant it was like looking into the sun. Realizing that was Gina I went back outside to get my bags and take a deep breath. I thought thank you Jesus; good things come to those that wait on you.

      I summoned up some courage and went back in and greeted Gina, and her mother and sister, we all got into a taxi and they took me to dinner at a place by the ocean. Iloilo is on a beautiful tropical Island. I had never been to such a place before. We ate under a bamboo roof on a bamboo table and sat on a bamboo bench by the sandy ocean beach. There were palm trees everywhere I thought I was on Giligan's Island, an old TV show I had grown up with in the US. Two skinny dogs were up on top of a table across from us eating the leftovers from previous dinner guest, I guess that is how they clean off the tables here, I thought to myself.

      I soon learned that it was their custom to have a family member accompany us on dates with each other. That took some adjusting and understanding on my part, most of the time it would be her sister, which was not so bad, but sometimes her mother would come, that was a more awkward situation for me. I did enjoy learning more about Gina from her mother though; her mother seemed very open and she sometimes embarrassed Gina, telling me stories about her growing up. All in all I did enjoy my time in Iloilo and especially my time with Gina. We got to know each other much better and I analyzed her personality as I always do with people. I also observed that she had what I call "mood swings". But they were nothing that caused me any great concern they were not dramatic and as long as she got a siesta everything was fine.

      Sometimes Gina and I were given enough space to have good conversations with each other. One night we had a very heart to heart talk during which we decided to make it official and get engaged. I told her that if she was not able to stay committed to me then she should let me know at that time, either by letter or by phone conversation, she agreed. I asked her if when she prayed about us if she felt that we were supposed to get married, she said yes she did. I felt the same way when I prayed about us getting married; surely this is the girl that the Lord has for me. The next day we picked out an engagement ring.

      I had brought a videotape with me of my home, business and my family; it was taken shortly before I came so she was able to see what a winter was like in Idaho. Snow was a new concept to her and her family, they called it ice, it was the only thing they could relate to it. Later in a letter Gina wrote, "I'd like to go to Idaho and see how beautiful your country and Idaho is, I also would like to experience Christmas in Idaho, and I would love to meet your family."

      The time went fast in Iloilo, and soon it was time to fly back to Manila. Gina and her mother took me to the airport it was a sad goodbye, and I saw a tear in Gina's eye, she was sentimental I liked that, surely this is the girl that God has for me. I flew back to Manila and spent a few more days on the street with the people handing out candy and Christian tracts and telling them that Jesus loved them. I had a good taxi driver that enjoyed giving as much as I did and he was better at getting the message across in their own language.

      While in Manila I attended a large church called "Cathedral of Praise", they had been experiencing revival since 1995. They had wonderful praise and worship and the gifts of the Spirit were in operation there among some very anointed brothers and sisters. I met with the children's pastor there one day and learned about their outreach programs and how the revival had begun. By this time I had gotten such a burden for the people of Manila that it was very good to see the body of Christ in operation there. Their church had 1000 cell groups that met in people’s homes; some were in the poor neighborhoods that I had visited. I was very happy to hear about that and also that they have a ministry to feed street kids every night. I then flew back to the United States on January 4, 1997. 

      When I got back to the United States I began the process to apply for a fiancée visa again, so that Gina could come to the US and we could get married. We finally got approval for the visa but there were still many requirements that she had to meet in the Philippines before the visa would be issued. So we began the wait to hear from the US embassy for the next step in the process.

      I have a cleaning lady that comes once a week her name is Denise. One day when she was at my house with her friend Eva, Eva asked how it was going in the process to get Gina to the US. I said, "well we are still waiting to here what the next step is from the embassy". Eva said we can pray about it and she grabbed my hand and started one of those loud fervent violent prayers that take the kingdom of heaven by force, and then Denise grabbed my other hand and started another loud fervent violent prayer in my other ear.

      I thought that was a nice gesture and they finished their work. I went outside to see them off and when I came back in the house the phone was ringing, I answered and it was Gina she was very excited because she received a letter from the embassy giving her an appointment for her physical exam and an interview. I asked her if I should rent the church for our wedding she said yes. I thought those violent fervent loud prayers work, and I took it as another sign that Gina was to come and be my wife.

      After my trip to meet Gina in the Philippines her letters to me were more intimate and she had more urgency to come to the US. At one point she had heard from the embassy the forms would be changed so she said let's hurry up so these forms will still be valid. Gina had to make a large effort to complete all of the requirements for the visa, and she had to travel to Manila three times, one time she had to wait outside in the hot sun for four hours in a long line. But she was persistent through it all, surely this must be the girl that the Lord has for me.

      When I wrote to Gina about my experiences in Manila she wrote back to me about how she wished she had gone with me to Manila. She wrote, "You know Gary as I read your last letter I wished I had gone with you to Manila, your letter touched me, and I know next time you come, I will be willing to go along with you where ever you want to go. I will also like to go many places where we can talk to people about God and how good He really is." She went on in the letter to say, "You know Gary as the days go by I'm getting more assured that we are the ones meant for each other. I feel lucky that you’re the one God gave me, I think God is really the best cupid. You are the most generous, understanding, patient, and God-fearing man I have ever known in my life. I hope God will continually return your kindness with more blessings; you’re a person that is very easy to love. I just can't imagine how lucky I am to have known you and since it is Valentines Day it's right for me to say I love you and I truly miss you. God bless you, love always Gina." She drew a little heart by her signature. Surely this is the girl that God has given me as a helpmate.

      Gina arrived on July 19, 1997 when she finally came through the gate she was beautiful, as usual, she carried herself with class as she walked, but I could tell that she was tired from the long journey. She was hungry so we went from the airport to a restaurant in downtown Spokane, Washington for dinner. One of the first things Gina wanted to know was where were all the people. Compared to the Philippines most places in the US, except large cities, are not crowded, our population is much more spread out and we like space. Most of our time is spent in buildings, but in the Philippines life is on the street because of the warm climate.

      We came to my home and Gina called her family to let them know that she had arrived safely. When she got off the phone she was crying she said, "don't mind me". It was a little hard not too. Though she had only been in the United States a few hours she seemed to be intensely home sick. She quit crying but she still seemed a little distant and unresponsive, as if something heavy was on her mind. I thought that maybe she was just tired from the trip. We talked a little bit, when I brought up marriage; she said why are you so anxious, I said that I'm not anxious I'm just happy to have you here, I'll wait until you are ready.

      She knew that I had been anxious before to get married. I talked about it often and she seemed to go along with me. I had even joked that when she got off the plane they would be playing here comes the bride, and that the minister and I would be waiting at the bottom of the ramp. No wonder she was the last one off the plane. When I called Gina to tell her about her plane reservations I said you will arrive at 1:30 so I have the wedding set up for 2:30, she let out a gasp of fear, I started to laugh and so did she.

      The next day, Sunday July 20, 1997 we went to church in the morning, Gina seemed to enjoy our service. Afterward we drove out to my brother's house to have dinner with their family, and so they could meet Gina. Dinner was somewhat uncomfortable everyone was quiet and did not know what to say, my sister in-law had to work so she was not there. But Gina did get to meet my dad, brother, and my two nieces. We left there to go into town and purchase some shoes and other things that Gina needed. I took her into Coeur d' Alene to see the town and our beautiful lake. She realized that she had left her purse at my brothers' house so we headed back up there to get it.

      On the way she had an attack of the killer mood swings just after we turned off the highway on to the road to my brother's house she said, "I think I will go back now." Meaning that she would now return to the Philippines after being in the US for less than 24 hours. And that after she had spent 20 plus hours traveling over 8000 miles to get here, after we had spent over 18 months communicating with each other about her coming here, after we had gotten engaged to be married, after we had each gone through many forms and government red tape to get her here, after I had spent a lot of money for her transportation to come here, and after I had spent much more money traveling to the Philippines myself to meet her.

      Knowing the expression on her face said mood swing in progress and it was siesta time, I did not believe what she was saying. I made the comment that I must be the right one for her because no one else could tolerate her mood swings. I soon discovered that was not the right time for such a comment. I had made the same statement to her before in a letter with no reaction, I guess she was saving it for an in person response. She immediately fired back in anger, "No, there is someone else and he just puts up with them, he loves me and I love him, I don't love you and I don't want to marry you." She said this as if it was my fault that she was here and separated from the one she really loved.

      Her words like an artillery shell scored a direct hit to my heart I was devastated it was like being kicked by a horse in the chest. This was followed by the sudden revelation that I had been deceived this whole time, believing lie after lie. The emotional pain I was experiencing was severe; my heart was in critical condition. I said, "I would rather be dead than have this happen", death would have been a welcome relief at that moment.

       We continued to my brother's house as I tried to absorb the shock. How could anyone do that to another person, and especially someone who claims to be a Christian? Then I thought about all the people that I had told that I was getting married too, some were happy for me. But some of the people had warned me that this could be a setup, that she may just want to get into the country, or maybe she just wants my money, as if I had any. I would tell them, "No, she is a Christian, she could not live with herself if she did that." Now realizing that the negative advisers may be right caused my pride to suffer a mortal wound I was left exposed as a fool, naked and alone, my pride disintegrated leaving me with only the ashes of humiliation. Hope was draining out of me as blood drains from a wounded soldier on the battlefield.

      I slowly pulled into my brother's driveway, Gina said quietly, "You go in to get the purse". I said, "Ok", I opened the door to my Toyota pickup and got out. I put my feet out on the ground and as I stood up my knees nearly gave way and buckled under the heavy burden I was now carrying, my mind was reeling from the stress of the past few minutes. Gathering all my strength I made my way to their door and went in to get the purse. I gave an academy award performance in front of my family as if nothing was wrong and left with the purse. We then proceeded to the store to get the things Gina needed.

      The realization that I had been deceived and humiliated caused me to be intensely offended, I felt my heart closing down the river of compassion that had been flowing through it. Just as I had written about a week before my heart as a dam went into emergency shut down all the gates were closing fast. My mind said not only is Gina deceptive all the Philippine people are deceivers. All the gates of the dam of compassion through my heart were closing fast they went from flowing rivers down to a trickle almost instantly. Realizing my heart was becoming hard I quickly called out to God from my heart, "LORD PLEASE DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN."

      Then the thought came to me this would be a good time to try out the compassion techniques, I had just written about that the Lord had given me. Pity is the key I thought. The poor girl is obviously a miserable unhappy person. If she has planned this kind of deception against me than I do feel sorry for her because she will reap what she has sown. I would not be happy to see her suffer. I would rather be a victim than the victimizer. I remembered Jesus as He hung on the cross had pity for the people killing Him as He cried out, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do". Suddenly the gates of compassion in my heart were open again. Though I was still recovering from my wound I was not angry toward Gina; I was starting to feel sorry for her, compassion was restored and began flowing again. Pity and empathy work as the way to keep compassion flowing even in the most difficult offenses.     

      There was silence in the car as I analyzed the devastation and damage done to me. I had just started writing this book one-week before and had such wonderful revelations about God and His infinite compassion. I had prayed for direction from God at every step in this relationship, always getting His peace in my heart to go forward toward marriage. I said in my heart but God I was led by you and your peace every step of the way in this relationship, what kind of compassion is that?

       I have to admit that when I focused on God I still had peace as if He was saying trust me all the way through this. I thought about how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Sometimes God’s Holy Spirit will bring us into situations that cause us to die to ourselves so that we can have more of Jesus life in us. (2 Corinthians 4:11 KJV) For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. I thought about Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers and then put into prison before becoming a ruler in Egypt, later when his brothers came to him in fear he said fear not what you meant for evil God meant for good.

      The apostle Paul knowing that God wanted him to go to Jerusalem was determined to go even when Christians prophesied that he would be imprisoned there. At every city he went people prophesied that Paul would be bound and imprisoned and would suffer in Jerusalem. The other Christians urged him not to go thinking that the Spirit was warning him not to journey there. But Paul knew in his heart that the Holy Spirit was calling him to Jerusalem, he did not know why but he knew he had a date with destiny. He was eventually taken as prisoner to Rome to witness the gospel, and where he would write some of the New Testament.

      In thinking back about my relationship with Gina I wondered if I had missed God's plan for my life. No, in my heart I know that this was part of the plan for my destiny. If I had called off the relationship when warned by other Christians about it, then I would have been in disobedience to God. I felt led by the Holy Spirit at every step. I know God has a good purpose for the whole outcome, though it may be painful at this time.     

      In 1st Kings chapter 13 we are told the story of a prophet of God sent with a message to king Jeroboam, God had also told the prophet not to eat food or drink water while he was there and to return back a different way. The prophet delivered the message to Jeroboam and left by a different route than he had come. While on his way back an old prophet caught up with him and invited him to his house to eat. At first the younger prophet refused but the older said that he too was a prophet of God and an angel of the Lord told me to bring you back that you may eat and drink water, he was lying. So the younger prophet believed him and went to his house, while he was eating there the older prophet had a real message from God. He prophesied that because the younger prophet had disobeyed the Lord by eating food and drinking water where God had told him not to his body would not be buried in the tomb of his fathers. On the way back home a lion killed the younger prophet.

      Our relationship with God is a very personal one. He will speak to each of us individually and we must be led by the Holy Spirit even when we see that we are being led into danger, His peace will guide us. I would rather go through the fire with Jesus at my side than play golf without His presence there. Well meaning Christians will sometimes give us what seems to be good advice but we must be led by the Spirit only, there is no substitute for knowing God and His Word and recognizing His voice. I was somewhat comforted being reminded of these things as we made our way to the department store.

      We casually shopped looking for and finding all of the things Gina needed at the time. Giving to Gina caused even more compassion to flow through me even though I was still wounded at the time. I realized that through these revelations about compassion that the Holy Spirit had given me, I was able to maintain a Christ like outlook, even while still feeling pain.

      Christians have a destiny to be conformed to the image of Jesus. Everything we go through in life has a good purpose, to make us godly, that is to make us like God, to make us Holy, which is one with God. (Romans 8:28-30 NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. {29} For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

      The process of becoming glorified is sometimes a painful one; we are being conformed to the image of God's Son, which means we are being made into the image of Jesus Christ. The Lord circumcises our heart to love Him, circumcision is painful. (Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV) "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

      Christians go through many kinds of distress, but Jesus is with us all the way. Going through these problems with Jesus at our side causes us to learn to trust Him more and thereby love Him more. We are not separated from God's love when we go through these things, it is because He loves us that we go through these problems with Him so we can become more like Him. (Romans 8:35-37 NKJV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? {36} As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." {37} Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

      We are killed all day long, that can mean physical death, but I also believe that it means death to self. Going through tribulations makes us less carnal minded and more spiritually minded. We are then better able to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Jesus. (1 Peter 4:1-2 NKJV)  Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, {2} that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

      It is as we come to the end of ourselves and give up our life that Christ can fully live in us and then do great things through us. (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

      When we got back home Gina took a siesta. Later that day we had a good conversation, good because Gina was more honest with me, not because it made me feel good. She blamed her deceitful treatment of me on her mother, saying that her mother just wanted money. She explained that her mother says she is a Christian and even fools her friends, but she is very greedy for money. Gina's mother told everyone that Gina was coming to work in the United States, nothing about us getting married. Her mother's plan was that if Gina just came here then she could begin working to send money back to her. She told Gina that even though she just had a temporary fiancée visa that she could some how fix it so she could stay even without marrying me. Her mother did want Gina to marry me but not for a couple of years so that she could work and send enough money back to her in the Philippines. Gina's mother wanted her to pay back all of the money that they had spent on her education to become a nurse.

      Obviously Gina's relationship with God was distant or she could not have been part of such a hurtful scheme to manipulate someone's heart through so very many lies. I began to think that maybe the reason she needed to come here was to get away from her mother and develop a better relationship with God. I told her when she came over the coastline of America she entered the land of freedom she was no longer under the control of anyone, she was free. I went on to tell her, "To use the time here as a vacation to get closer to God and find out what He wants you to do with your life." At the time she seemed to accept this idea.  

      I asked Gina about her letters and the things that she would say in them. Even the last letter I received before she came had this paragraph in it. "I'm so happy that I'll someday be involved in missions with you. I want to use my skills and knowledge as a nurse in spreading the word of God. I think that our existence will be most meaningful if we could use it in helping and reaching out to the poor people and the less fortunate. I think the reason that God has given you so many blessings is so that you could reach out and spread God's word to the poor. Thank you for being so kind and for me you are the kindest man with the biggest heart and that makes you so handsome to me."  

      All lies, I was now discovering. I got out all of her letters and went through them asking about statement after statement; her response was always the same, "that was from my mother." By now I knew her well enough to be able to tell when she was lying to me. I know that the letters were from her in her writing and they were her manipulations, though possibly encouraged by her mother. She kept telling me that her mother would always tell her to put in a Bible verse so that I would think she was spiritual. She never had a Bible verse in any letter, so her mother did not have the kind of control that Gina wanted me to now believe. But she would always insist that her mother made her do it, sometimes even saying I should marry her mother.

      Gina's mother was only with us a few times when I was in the Philippines. Gina could have been more honest with me then. She could have told me the truth and I would have given her a way out, protecting her from her mother. I gave Gina every opportunity to be honest with me especially in the Philippines; I asked point blank questions and got back lies, according to what she was telling me now anyway. She did not love me. She never did want to marry me. She did not care about helping people. She did not want to spread the word of God. She obviously did not know God, but she did know about Him.

      The next morning when I awoke and went to read my Bible I was feeling devastated again. I had been preparing my heart for marriage for over a year now and looking forward to the companionship with a girl that I thought I knew. Now marriage seemed a distant prospect, it was like having to start all over again. My heart was broken and it ached. I said God I really need a verse this morning, not knowing where to read I just opened my Bible and read the words of Jesus. (Luke 4:18 KJV)  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

      Jesus came to heal the broken hearted, the words stood out at me. I knew it was a word from the Lord for me, I knew the word had planted a tiny seed in my heart and that it would grow and heal me, eventually. But I have to admit that at the time I did not feel any better. I said to the Lord, "Great, first you break my heart in pieces and then you heal it." I guess my heart was being circumcised. Several times in my life I have opened the Bible to just what I needed to read at the moment. I know that is not a good way to study the Bible but in times of desperation, at the critical moment, the God of compassion and His Word always come through.  

      For the rest of the week we got along pretty well, Gina's moods were not always good but not like they were on "black Sunday", when she decided to enlighten me with truth after lying to me for a year and a half. I actually enjoyed her company, she wanted us to just be friends; I painfully accepted the idea. I had to work during the daytime, Gina would study large books that would prepare her for nursing exams, and she seemed to enjoy studying. At night we would go out and we had some good conversations that I enjoyed very much. The following Sunday we visited my brothers church, Gina seemed unhappy before church and she was much worse after church. That afternoon God began to give me insights into the spirit realm and how Satan keeps us from the knowledge of God. That was the day I began writhing about, "The War Against The Knowledge of God". The next three days I was to have a lesson on how deep and dark spiritual blindness is, and how not to fight it.

      Gina seemed to have no interest in studying the Bible. Still learning by example about the blindness that Satan uses to keep people from knowing God, I thought if I could just get her to memorize some Bible verses, the light would shine on her and she could see to know God and would then be drawn to Him. So I talked her into agreeing to memorize one verse a day. I quickly learned that that idea was backwards of what really needs to take place. First evil blinding spiritual forces need to be bound before a person can even begin to have any understanding of God and His love for them. If we seek God He will break through to reveal Himself to us. If a person has no desire to seek God and we have enough compassion to intercede for them, we can bind the mind blinding demons that are a dark cloud between the victim and God.

      For two days Gina tried to memorize a verse but was not able to do so. At the time I could not understand why, she was able to memorize three big thick books of technical nursing information, but could not remember one Bible verse. I knew that she was very intelligent, and very studious. She said that she had always had much trouble memorizing Bible verses but could memorize anything else. She had been educated in a Baptist Christian school in the Philippines, and always struggled with this problem. I asked if she new any verses, she replied John 3:16 I asked her to quote it, she did not want to but she did it to please me, she was very uncomfortable saying the words. This was a spiritual sign.

      That night during casual conversation as she was writing a letter to a friend, I gave her another spiritual test. I asked Gina if she thought it was possible to be too close to God. She said, "Yes, and that person is you," her tone was anger mixed with hate. I was shocked into silence; this was a definite spiritual sign. I thought how could a true Christian think it is possible to be to close too God, since He is supposed to be in us, and we are to be in Him, and we are to be one with Him. Can a person who wants to keep their distance from God be a Christian?

      Gina was homesick and missed speaking in her own language so my sister-in-law introduced her to a Filipino family that she worked with. They invited Gina to their home for Filipino food and Filipino conversation. On Wednesday July 30, 1997 she went to their home for dinner. She called me later that night saying that she wanted to spend the night there, I said ok. The next day I called their home in the afternoon to see when Gina was coming back, she answered the phone, and said "I can't come back right now, I will come back later," then she repeated "I will come back later." I knew that I was being lied to again. The next day their family would not tell us where Gina was.

      On Saturday morning August 2, 1997 Gina called me from her aunts home in California, she had ridden the bus for a day and a half to get there. She said that she needed to get away and think about things and then she might be back. I knew that I was being lied to again, the final lie, I thought. The rest of the story of her life and my life is yet to be written. I'm glad Jesus is the Author.

      The whole experience put me through the greatest emotional pain of my life. Having Gina leave without even saying goodbye just added more pain, she left me hanging without an ending. But in thinking back I realize that I have grown spiritually in the last two years more than all of the rest of my life put together. Was it all worth it? YES, most definitely. I know God well enough now to know that I want to know Him better, I do know that He loves me, He is the God of compassionate love, and I trust Him, though he slays me yet will I trust Him. I know God well enough now to know that I want to spend the rest of eternity getting to know Him better.                        

      Could the situation have turned out worse? Yes, we could have gotten married. The one mistake I believe that I made in this drama was in the very beginning by seeking to be married, instead of seeking God. That was a symptom of knowing about God, but not really knowing God. We are supposed to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be added. Through out the whole Bible the message is the same; we are taught to seek God and His presence; some of the benefits of His presence are, love, joy, peace and every need met. We are never to seek our own will or set our affections on the things of this world. Even Jesus says, (John 5:30 NKJV) "I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." 

      We are to seek the Lord and His strength, always becoming more dependent on Him and His strength, understanding that we cannot make it on our own. When we come to the end of our strength, then we are forced to rely on His strength. God's strength is perfected in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)   "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." If we are spiritually disciplined enough to always seek God's face and His strength then we would not have to go through trials that force us to do so. (1stChronicles 16:11 KJV) Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. Whatever we go through, Jesus in His infinite compassion is right there with us giving us all the strength we need at the right time for any situation in life.

      Our God grades on effort, He is always searching our hearts and then revealing what is inside to us so that we know if we are seeking Him with our whole heart. Only if 100% of our heart is seeking Him will we find Him. (Deuteronomy 4:29-31 NKJV)  "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. {30} "When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice {31} '(for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them. The context of this verse tells about Israel forgetting about God because of living “the good life”, they drifted away from the true God and ended up serving false gods. Then their enemies came in and took them captive and they were scattered throughout the world.

      The word distress in verse 30 is the Hebrew word “tsar” it means a narrow tight place, trouble, anguish, distress, and tribulation. Distress and tribulation are tight situations that force you to seek God with your whole heart. They cause you to turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice. The word merciful in verse 31 is the Hebrew word “rachuwm”, which means compassionate, full of compassion. It is because of God's infinite compassion that we go through distress and tribulation. To bring us running back to Him, seeking Him with our whole heart and our whole soul because we have nowhere else to turn, this is how we come to depend on Him, and Him alone. (Psalms 78:34-35 NKJV)  When He slew them, then they sought Him; And they returned and sought earnestly for God. {35} Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.

      Immediately when we reach that point His Holy Spirit is there to comfort us, and we realize that He has not left us, He has been there all the time, He went through the fire with us. His covenant to us as Christians is that He will never leave us He will never forsake us. (John 14:15-18 NIV)  "If you love me, you will obey what I command. {16} And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- {17} the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. {18} I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

      Many Christians in the world especially in certain countries are in tribulation now. In those places the body of Christ is prospering and maturing at a rapid rate. Persecution makes the church grow, and it makes individual Christians grow spiritually mature. Jesus tells us to rejoice in persecutions for righteousness because they are a sign that we have arrived so to speak. (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV)  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      Noah went through the flood with the help of God. The Lord helped the Israelites through the plagues that were put on Egypt. The children of Israel went through the Red Sea with God's help. Daniel was not rescued from the lion's den, but God helped him through it. The three Hebrew children were not rescued from the blazing firey furnace, but Jesus was with them through it and He helped them come out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes. (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV)  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

      It is going through distress and tribulation and seeing God's miraculous provision that causes us to trust and love Him more and more. (Psalms 91:14-15 NKJV)  "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. {15} He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.

      God sometimes brings situations in our lives that cause us to seek Him; this is so that we can receive the blessings of seeking Him. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV)  "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, {14} "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. So many times the Israelites would turn away from God when things were going good, but God in His mercy would cause situations that would bring them back into close relationship with Him. He still works this way with His children. (Psalms 78:34-35 NKJV) When He slew them, then they sought Him; And they returned and sought earnestly for God. {35} Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.

      It is when God brings about tribulation upon a people that they then loose their pride, pray, and seek the face of God, turning their faces away from everything else to face God. When they do this then He can move to heal a person or a nation. (Hosea 5:15 NKJV)  I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." (Hosea 6:1 NKJV)  Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

     While seeking God we must be careful that we have the right heart condition, that is that we are seeking Him because we want Him, not because we want Him to give us something else. (Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV)  "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' {32} "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. {33} "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. {34} "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

      We can count on enough trouble each day, but we can also count on God to take care of us if our desire is toward Him. Jesus told us that the Kingdom of God is within us, so when He is telling us to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness He is telling us to seek more of Him in us, that is to desire the closest possible relationship with Him that we can have. He will take care of the rest. (John 16:33 KJV)  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

      In Genesis chapter 32 Jacob was about to meet his brother Esau and the four hundred men with him, a frightening situation for Jacob at the time. The situation caused his heart to seek God and His salvation. Jacob separated himself from his family, while he was alone that night he wrestled with a man. When you press in to seek God with your whole heart opposition will arise against you. Jacob wrestled all night, then the man wounded Jacob's thigh, and Jacob said I will not let you go until you bless me. Then the man changed Jacob's name to Israel, meaning to have prevailed with God. He limped away wounded, but blessed by God. The wound caused him to be dependent upon God.      

      It seems that when we press into a closer relationship with God, and a greater depth of the knowledge of God, then there is an immediate opposition. I believe that this is to make sure we are sincere, a trying of our heart to see if we are seeking God with our whole heart. Some people draw back when the opposition comes. (Hebrews 10:38-39 NKJV)  Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." {39} But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. I have had people tell me that they fear getting too close to God because then it seems everything goes wrong. What is the alternative, perdition?

      It is better to be close to God and go through problems with Him, than to have a life of avoiding Him through distractions and then have a sudden destruction. We are always moving closer to God or moving further away from Him, these are our only two choices. (Luke 20:18 KJV)  Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. The stone is symbolic of Jesus, it is better to fall on Him and be broken, than to reject Him and have Him fall on you.

      When everything goes wrong we are to press in all the more, so we can see Jesus fix everything in ways we never would have thought of. This causes us to love Him more, which means we trust Him more, which means we have greater faith in Him. This increase in faith gives us the power to make it through the next crisis, which increases our faith even more. There is a point at which you know God well enough to say to Him, “Though you slay me yet I will trust you.” This is a place where the peace of God comforts you no matter how hopeless the situation seems on the outside. I would rather be in the middle of a forest fire and know that God is with me and feel His presence, than be in the French Rivera on vacation with the rich and famous not knowing God.

      Sometimes situations arise that humble us; God puts us in those situations so we can learn to submit to His authority and to learn to relax in His control. We are to submit and let God take care of the situation, giving all of our problems and cares to Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV) Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, {7} casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. The better we get to know the God of loving compassion the more we will trust Him. Trusting God is a continuous learning and growing experience.

      Through prayer we give our problems to God. Through thanking Him we realize that He is good and things are not as bad as they could be. He is merciful, gracious, and full of compassion. (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)  Be worried for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 (Romans 5:1-5 NKJV)  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, {2} through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. {3} And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; {4} and perseverance, character; and character, hope. {5} Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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(Daniel 11:35 NKJV)  "And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.


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