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In the instant before I was born again, during what I now call “the moment outside of time”, God imprinted on my soul this one simple truth: The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned. It was reminder of the “cause and effect” principle that I’d ignored or pretended didn’t exist up to that point in my earthly life, but its impression on me was indelible from then onward. Now, whenever things go a bit south in my life, I immediately remind myself: “The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned”, and I do whatever is necessary to bring my thinking and doing back in line with God’s will.
Most Christian pastors side-step the principle of cause and effect when teaching their flock, instead referring to God as “a Great Mystery” who works in ways that we cannot possibly fathom. Granted, we can’t know God’s mind perfectly (we just don’t have that capability in our current form), but we can very definitely know the principles he has established for us to live by (more…)
Therefore have I poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.
Nothing gets most Christians and non-Christians more riled up than being told they’ve earned their pain. People prefer to see themselves and others as innocent victims.
But there has only ever been one innocent victim who suffered for something he didn’t do, only one who came into this world without the stain of rebellion on his soul, and that was Jesus
All the rest of us are just paying our dues.
I was born-again from atheism over 16 years ago. I was 36 at the time. I’d lived the typical life of a Western non-believing woman, which could pretty much be summed up with the word “sin”. For my deeds, I’d accumulated an immense amount of pain. Of course, as an atheist, I didn’t believe in sin and so I didn’t see my emotional and mental pain as being connected to the choices I made in my life. I saw my pain as being inflicted on me by others, and I intended that each and every one of them should pay for what they’d done to me, and pay big.
I didn’t believe God existed. I thought only idiots believed in God. I was born again after reaching the tipping point of what I now recognize as a spiritual crisis (every aspect of my existence, from finances to employment to personal relationships, had collapsed). I was in deep deep doo-doo and subsequently in the deepest despair of my life. Though I didn’t know at the time that it was God who had done it, I was given the very great privilege of seeing the horrendous state of my soul (which, like God, I didn’t believe existed, but you can’t argue with something staring you straight in the face). The knowledge so terrified me that I immediately ran out of the cottage I was house-sitting and down to what I thought was the only “safe place” in my little world — the seashore. In my tormented mind, I reckoned if I could just get to the water, the pain that was so all-encompassing that I could no longer breathe would stop.
So I ran down to the ocean (about a mile away) and collapsed on the sandy beach. There, without making a sound, I gave up. I simply gave up trying to figure everything out and trying to fix my own mistakes and trying to do everything by myself. I gave up. My will broke. And in the next instant, again without making a sound, I cried out for help from the bottom of my heart. I did not know I was crying out to God. I did not believe in God, even at that point. The cry for help came from some part of me that I didn’t even know existed, it had been covered up by sin for so long.
But God heard my cry, and God answered.
In the blackness of what I know now was my death, God gave me a choice between two options: I could choose to forgive someone who had caused me more pain than anyone else in my life, or I could choose not to forgive that person. I was shown that if I chose the first option (to forgive), all the pain would stop, but if I chose the second option (not to forgive), the pain would not only continue but worsen.
I was shown, by the warmth and brightness of a light shining on the choice to forgive, that it was the better of the two.
All of this was done in a series of tableau against a black background. Communication was not by words but by understanding. I still didn’t know it was God communicating with me. And solely because I wanted the pain to stop (not because I was some great humanitarian), I chose to forgive.
At that instant, God showed me that the pain I felt was the pain I’d earned. Nothing had been done to me that I hadn’t in some way done to someone else. God hadn’t punished me. He was simply letting me feel the full force of the pain that I’d caused other people.
And then God healed me.
The next thing I heard was the sound of a great rushing wind that seemed to go on and on. I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the sand, facing the water. I could see only the sand, the water, the sky. I stood up and looked up. I had never in all my life felt so amazingly amazing. There are no words to describe this feeling; only those who have been healed from sin know what I am talking about.
I didn’t know what had happened to me. As a former student of classical literature, all I could think was tabula rasa — clean slate. I had no idea I was actually born again.
I didn’t want to leave the beach because I associated this feeling of extreme peace and euphoria with being in my “safe place” by the water. But God (even though I still didn’t realize it was God) assured me that I could leave and the feeling would come with me. So I made my way, slowly, slowly, back to the little cottage. There had been no-one on the beach at the time of my rebirth, but I passed a few people on my homeward journey. I felt intense love for them, strangers though they were.
When I got back to the cottage, I bee-lined for the Bible that the owner, Mildred, kept on a little table in the centre of the living room. I sat down at her kitchen table and opened to the page where it said “The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, and I started reading it for the first time in my life. I read all four gospels in one sitting, and it was during the reading of the gospels that God showed me I was born again.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
In the intense pain of my atheist years, God hadn’t done anything to me that I hadn’t first done to someone else, in kind. He was only exercising his perfect justice. He didn’t want me to feel pain, but he also couldn’t let me off the hook.
People who blame God or “circumstances” for their pain in life do not acknowledge that the pain they feel is the pain they’ve earned. Granted, that’s a huge pill to swallow for most people. As an atheist, I could never have swallowed it; I had lists a mile long of all the people who’d “done me wrong” over the years. Some of those people I’d sued, and some I was even in the process of suing when, thank God, I was born again, at which point I dropped all law suits.
In choosing to forgive that one person who had done me more harm than anyone else in the world, I’d in effect forgiven everyone for everything, so God forgave me everything.
Sure, what they’d done to me was wrong, but I had it coming. I’d treated so many people so appallingly, how could the pain I’d inflicted not come back to me, in kind? I say “in kind”, because God’s justice isn’t simplistic. If we cheat on our spouse, justice is not our spouse cheating on us in return, because our spouse cheating on us may not impact us at all. Justice would be when we feel the same degree of pain that we inflicted on our spouse (by cheating). This may manifest as getting fired from a job or having our child alienate his or her affections from us.
God’s justice is perfect. That’s why he tells us to leave the “vengeance” to him. He knows precisely how much is earned and precisely where to hit to make the right impact, keeping in mind that God, even amidst his justice delivery, is still trying to get us to turn back to him.
But at some point, time is up – for individuals, for nations, and for the entire planet.
Time was up for the geopolitical state of Israel when the Jews rejected Jesus at his first coming. Those who call themselves “Jews” are no longer the chosen people, and Israel is now the world-wide collective of born-again souls who follow Jesus. We born-agains are the spiritual Israelites who have inherited God’s promise. We live in his safe spiritual kingdom on Earth, constantly under the protection of his spirit, being fed, taught, guided, comforted and even punished (when necessary), as was promised to us through our spiritual brethren, the Old Testament prophets.
Someday, time will be up for each one of us, and what we’ve done with the time and talents God has so generously given us will determine where and how we spend eternity.
Time will be up for the planet, too, just after Jesus returns to rescue the last few remaining believers.
God’s justice is perfect. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
My advice? Don’t do anything to earn pain.
But if you do feel pain, always choose to forgive.
No matter how horrendous the deed done against you, always choose to forgive.
The world is in a fallen state not only because of sin, but because people have chosen not to forgive.
When you choose to forgive, God chooses to forgive you. God’s forgiveness is the only true healing and the only true peace.
You born-again person reading this – you are not of this world, so you should not live by the rules of this world (“an eye for an eye”).
You are of God’s kingdom, where the rule is to love your enemies.
The pain you feel is the pain you’ve earned.
Always choose to forgive.