Joyce Meyer - Answering Life's Hard Questions - Part 1
Ginger Stache: There are so many big questions in life. You know, the ones, those things that weigh on us, we just can't quite figure it out. And they can be the type of things that become a wedge between us and God. So, where do you find the answers? Well, you're in the right place because today on "Enjoying Everyday Life," we're sharing a discussion from Joyce's talk it out podcast, where Joyce, Erin Cluley, Jai, and I, and our special guest, Lisa Harper, tackle life's hard questions. It's difficult stuff. So, let's jump in together with both feet.
Joyce Meyer: Well, I think the Word of God really has the answer to every question in life. It's just a matter of knowing where to find 'em. And sometimes, knowing how to put things together. You know, you can't always get an answer just pulling one scripture out. Actually, you can get the Bible to say almost anything if you do that.
Lisa Harper: You sure can.
Joyce Meyer: So, you have to interpret the Word of God in light of the word. But I also think that the more experience you have with God, the more you learn to understand things. I like to say, "We live life forward, but we understand it backward". There's so many things when I'm going through them, that I don't understand. They don't make sense. And I was reading a book this morning, the teaching was about how important it is to keep believing. That we go through so many things in life that we don't understand that seem unfair, that don't seem to make any sense. And he actually, said something that I thought was pretty strong. He said, "Actually unbelief is the worst sin". That God, above all else, wants us to believe him. And so many people, they believe until they have to apply it, and then they don't believe anymore. And we're gonna try to answer, hard to answer questions, but to be honest, God loves a good mystery.
Erin Cluley: He sure does.
Ginger Stache: That's a great way to put it.
Joyce Meyer: And if you don't like mystery, you're not gonna like hanging out with God, because there's just a lot of things that we go through in life that we don't understand, and won't understand, until we get to heaven where we're gonna know everything he knows. And so, we're gonna do our best here.
Lisa Harper: I love that you emphasized that, Ms. Joyce. I was reading, J.I. Packer, recently. And he said that, "One of the griefs of modern society is we've ceased to be awed by God". You know, we've made him a copilot. He's not a copilot. He's Creator, redeemer. But he said, "If you don't have a sense of wonder, then you need to be revived". There should be a little bit of shock and awe. I don't want a perfectly knowable God. I wanna close God. But if my dinky mind can fully comprehend God, that's a small God. I wanna God that's bigger than me and my circumstances.
Joyce Meyer: Well, if we understood everything, we wouldn't even God.
Lisa Harper: That's right. That's exactly right.
Joyce Meyer: We need him for the times when nothing makes any sense, and nothing seems to fit together. But that's where your faith is tested. There's so many things that we think, we believe, and we think, we've got so much faith, we think we're so strong. But I don't think any of us really truly know even ourselves until we're tested.
Lisa Harper: Right, I agree.
Joyce Meyer: So, a lot of the tests that we go through, are to help you meet yourself and see where your weaknesses are. So, you can then, work with the Holy Spirit to get strengthened in those areas.
Jai: Some of the biggest questions I've had, especially, these past couple of years, those have been the things that I've struggled with the most is maintaining my belief that I've known my entire life. But also, the other thing you said, like the answers are in the word. But sometimes, to me, and this could be my immaturity, you know, I got that. I almost felt like that was almost too simple of an answer for the gravity of the pressure I was feeling, from the pressure, you know, from the deep, deep questions that I had. Like, I almost felt like, which has, almost not delayed my healing process, but it's definitely made it, you know, a little turbulent. Because, I just like, it's gotta be something more than just this. This fee, we were talking about it earlier with all the Bible stories, job, and you know. Like, it's like, I don't wanna go to that right now. Like, it seems too simple and too easily. So, I can understand how people still have questions, especially now, like going through such a hard few years, you know, like...
Lisa Harper: Globally and nationally and personally. Jai, though, what you said, I think, is so profound, when you said, "Sometimes it seems too simple," I think, if I'm hearing you right, 'cuz I've been blinded by your cool pants, camo pants. But sometimes, people try to make it simple. It's like, "Oh, Romans 8:28".
Lisa Harper: And they'll take one verse. Well, Romans 8:28 is fabulous that, "God will work together, all things for our good if you know him and his glory". But they miss the beginning of Romans 8, which is, "We will groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly". If you don't get what Joyce said earlier, scripture has to answer scripture. If somebody just cuts and pastes one verse, or they throw up one meme on social media, they can take that out of context, and it does seem trite.
Jai: Exactly, I think that's what it is.
Lisa Harper: It's like, "Y'all just cross stitch that and hung it on your wall, but I'm actually dealing with something serious, here". You go to all of divine narrative. All of it, is these stories of people who are finding God in the midst of really tough stuff. It's not just one simple, "Okay, here you go. Now, we're done". And I think that's where sometimes we go, "That seems too simple". You're not really saying, "God's word is simple". You're saying, "When somebody has tried to cut and paste a verse and say, 'don't struggle anymore,' then it seems trite".
Jai: It's the spiritual bypassing that a lot of Christians have done to try to band-aid, and cause people to move so quickly past whatever they're dealing with. You know, I'm definitely not wanting to stay where I am. But I do wanna heal the proper way and get the answers that I need. So, that's exactly it.
Lisa Harper: You changed...
Ginger Stache: And almost a...
Lisa Harper: Sorry.
Ginger Stache: No, just almost guilt that goes along with it. It's like, "If you don't already understand this verse and what God is, how are you still asking that question"? So, as we're doing these, as I read these questions, there's so pain in these questions. And so, God knows that it's not something as surface-y, as this one verse. So much more of it as knowing the heart of God for our pain.
Lisa Harper: That's right.
Ginger Stache: So, what were you gonna say, Erin?
Erin Cluley: I was just gonna say I was reading Hebrews yesterday, and it's so amazing. As we talk about like the power of God that's in there, and the answers, I've read this before, but reading it yesterday, it struck me in a whole new way. But how we have the God who created everything, his son was sent to live like us, and he had pain and hurt and struggle. And so, he is empathetic towards us because he knows it. So, it's not just, "Go read that verse because it sounds really nice on that wall hanging and it looks pretty in my living room". It's because Jesus walked on this earth with us and he walked it out, so he empathizes with us. And so, it doesn't mean all your answers are gonna be easy. We don't get all those. But it's not that we are left alone.
Ginger Stache: Right.
Lisa Harper: I love that the author of Hebrews said Jesus was prepared for the cross. He was perfected for the cross through pain and suffering. And so, God even used pain and suffering with his own son, incarnate Messiah, it wasn't all like, all hunky-dory for him.
Joyce Meyer: Those are some of my favorite versus. Hebrews 5:8 and 9, because it says...
Lisa Harper: Me too. I love Hebrews.
Joyce Meyer: He gained the "Equipment", the Amplified says, that he needed to be "The author," of our salvation.
Erin Cluley: Oh, that's so good.
Ginger Stache: That takes a...
Joyce Meyer: And the experience. The experience and the equipment. And you know, when I look back, most of my pain was just growing up. It was just learning how to apply the word and not let my emotions control me and not live out of my own mind. And before we start answering these questions, I wanna say, I think it's fine to ask questions. But you're not gonna get the answer to every question that you ask. And sometimes, I think, what God wants to hear is, "I'd love to know why, but even if you don't tell me, I trust you".
Lisa Harper: Right, right, that's the end of job.
Joyce Meyer: Because that's the most important thing is, "I trust you, even if I never know why".
Lisa Harper: "I want your presence more than I want an answer".
Ginger Stache: Well, that leads us right to the first question that we've really already begun answering, and it probably is the one that most people are thinking about right away. It's: "Why do we suffer so much"? So, those things that we're talking about are great foundations, for me. Cuz it's very, maybe ironic's not the word, but even right before we started doing this, I got some really bad news about someone that I love, who's suffering very much, and we don't know what's going to happen. And so, it's just the way God works so much. He prepares our hearts, surround us with people that we need when we have those, "Why," questions. 'cause I've told you this before, I can be a "Why" person. If I don't really watch myself, I can be a "Why, God," and I can be angry. And so, instead, leaning on that fact that, you just said, that Jesus felt that pain, that I'm feeling, he lost people that he loved. He did things he didn't want to do, on the surface, but he did it to please God. So, I'm gonna throw this out there. We've already begun talking about it, but how do you respond to the question about suffering.
Joyce Meyer: Well, one of the reasons why we suffer so much, and I hope people can grasp this, 'cause I went through it: is we fight the suffering rather than embracing it.
Ginger Stache: That doesn't sound like fun though.
Jai: It doesn't.
Joyce Meyer: Well, but it does make it easier. Because if you trust God, you believe that he's doing something good with it.
Lisa Harper: That's right.
Joyce Meyer: That's why it says, "To count it all joy," doesn't say it feels joyful. But you consider that it's gonna work something good in you. And so, the more you fight something, it's like a person drowning, the more they fight you, the less likely they are to be saved. And so, if they can relax, you can maybe, get 'em to shore. And we all start fighting our suffering. But when you can learn to just embrace it, and believe that God is gonna do something good out of it, it actually, really makes it so much easier.
Lisa Harper: It goes back to what you said at the top of the podcast, ms. Joyce, when you said really underneath all of our striving is unbelief. And I think it's also underneath that is the lack of understanding, or belief, that God is good. That ultimately, he's a good God. So, of course, there's all different kinds of suffering. We see suffering going on globally, that is the result of really, wrong decision. And then, you see suffering, what you're going through today is just, life is hard. Jesus says, "In this world, you will have trouble". There's hardship. There's death here. Death wasn't in the original plan. And so, suffering can be the result of sin. It can be the result of the fall. But if you believe our God is good and ultimately, somehow, some way he will work this out for our good, you also believe what he said in Joseph's life, "What man intended for evil, God will redeem that, and use for good," then you go, "Okay, I might not be happy about this. I'm not signing up for suffering 102 after suffering 101, but I do believe my God is good. So even if I can't see around the corner of my circumstances", you know, I was telling y'all earlier, I got really sick during COVID, and it looked like I might meet Jesus faster than I thought I was gonna meet Jesus. And there was kind of this reckoning moment in my, I started to say hotel. That's freudian. My hospital room, completely alone, with me thinking, "I'm a single mom". I've got an 11-year-old, who lost her first mama, biologically, before I got to adopt her. And I felt this great peace, for 45 seconds. And I thought, "Oh, this is what peace with God feels like, 'absent from the body present with Jesus'". And then, I started going, "Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, Lord, this is too soon. Missy lost her first mama. You know, my husband is lost, and won't stop to ask for directions. Oh, this isn't gonna go well, this is". And in my hospital room, I sensed God, through his spirit, go, "Lisa, do you believe I'm a good God"? And I had to go, "Yes, sir". It's just, I had forgotten. I wanted to control my life. And I forget God doesn't work in time and space, as we know it. He extends beyond that. He will work all things out for our good.
Ginger Stache: What you did was make a decision, aside from what you were feeling and all of the emotions that you were dealing with, based on your experience. And that's what's really helped me, as I've had more experience with God, and a lot of hurts and a lot of suffering, to see, yes, down the road, I can trust what he says he will do. It doesn't mean I won't hurt really bad along the way, but he won't leave me in that place. And that's helped a lot.
Joyce Meyer: I was recently, really struck, by the fact, that Jesus, in the garden, prayed three times for the same thing. Three separate times he went and said, "Father, if possible, remove this cup from me". So, he really did not wanna go to the cross. I don't know. For some reason, it struck me. He really, really did not wanna go to the cross. It's like us, when we really don't wanna go through something. And he kept saying, "If possible, deliver me from this, nevertheless, your will be done and not mine". And I think, I wanna be sure, I say this right, I think, even more than not wanting to suffer, we have to want God's will.
Lisa Harper: That's right.
Erin Cluley: That is hard. That is so hard.
Lisa Harper: That's right.
Joyce Meyer: More than we don't wanna suffer, we have to want God's will, because we trust that if he does allow us to go through a time of suffering, that doesn't mean God brought it. But I believe that God uses things. I think even I can get myself in trouble, through making a bad decision, and God may not get me out of it right away, like I'd like him to, but he decides to use it to teach me something that I need to know. And so, if we can want God's will more than we even don't wanna suffer, you know, I just, I keep feeling impressed to say again, that it's so much easier when you embrace it.
Lisa Harper: It is. Well, I love that you brought up Gethsemane, because you think, Christ, himself, the Messiah, was able to be heard, to say, "I don't want this. I don't wanna see your back. I don't want to feel communion between me, and you cut off. I don't want this". But I think, oftentimes, in Christian culture, we're like, "Okay, you're a new creature. Don't whine anymore". And it's like, "No, God will hear you". And I think, that's one of the things when somebody's suffering, is to say, "Take all that to Jesus. Take all that to the Lord. And go, 'i feel like this is about to kill me'". And what we're really grieving is to be completely alone and to feel like nobody cares, and nobody's gonna help. You go to the Lord and go, "Oh, the Lord heard me". You know, job, didn't get a single question answered. But after God revealed himself to him, in the form of spankin'.
Erin Cluley: That's my favorite part of scripture.
Lisa Harper: I mean, I love it. And he says, he does it with such kindness. That he says, "My ears had heard of you, but now, my eyes have seen you," and nothing is fixed. He's not reconciled with his wife. He doesn't have his business back. He doesn't have more children. He's basically still in the middle of the mess he started with, but he says, "Oh, now, that I've been in your presence, it's enough". And I think if in suffering we would learn to lean into God in that. You know, I'm 58, sixty's right around the corner. Which means I have the right to wear stretchy pants. But one of the things, I like about being a little older, is I can look back over my life and realize, I've never been abandoned by God. He has been present. I might not have felt him. But he's been so kind and so redemptive that it's easier for me to trust the future now, 'cause I go, "Oh, he has never failed me".
Ginger Stache: Experience.
Lisa Harper: And I think that's part of leaning into it, is to go, "Boy, every other season that I grieved, or I was heartbroken, he was so near to me". And I could have never... I couldn't have dreamt the redemption God has worked in my life. So, I do think leaning into the process, as ms. Joyce is saying, not to say happy, clappy, "I love this". You can grieve and say, "I don't wanna do this," just like Jesus did, "But I still trust you".
Ginger Stache: You know, when I got this bad news today, and just tears streaming down my face and my friends were praying for me, so, I appreciate that so much, just so important for us to have. And Lisa, you said something that really struck me. And it's not something that I was thinking about or grappling with at the time, but it was like, "Wow. Yes". And you said that our pain is not punitive. That it's not, like, you said, Joyce, God isn't throwing pain at us. That it's not always, I mean, there are things that we do in our life that cause our own pain.
Lisa Harper: It's a consequence.
Ginger Stache: Right, consequentially. Absolutely. But just because we have pain in our life, it does not mean that God is making us suffer. That's very different.
Joyce Meyer: Pain and suffering comes for a lot of different reasons. And that's why it's almost foolish to try to figure out...
Lisa Harper: That's right.
Joyce Meyer: Where it came from, I mean, you know.
Lisa Harper: Oftentimes, in scripture, it's a promotion. You know, if you look at job's story, basically, God was saying, "I vote job for this because he will walk this out in a way".
Ginger Stache: Thanks a lot, God.
Lisa Harper: "But he will walk this out in a way that gives me glory". It's a promotion. David says in Psalm 119...
Ginger Stache: It's a bigger picture.
Lisa Harper: "In his faithfulness, he has afflicted me". God wasn't doing this from a capricious, punitive place. "He knew my faith was strong enough to walk this out in a way". And you know, I don't know, Joyce, you and i, well, I guess the three of us are the oldest here. Well, y'all both still have tight skin and high metabolism. So, I look like the oldest but...
Ginger Stache: Stop.
Lisa Harper: But you know how, when you have somebody young, who hasn't been through any hardship and when I have some 22-year-old come up to me and go, "Oh, miss Lisa, when you stop worrying about being married, I mean, I really struggled, but when I got married at 19". And I'm like, "I wanna kick her in the shins". I'm like, "You have not lived enough life". But you have somebody who's been through hardship, who says, "God has been good to me. God has been faithful". That kind of testimony has credibility because you go, "Boy, they have leaned into God in the dark, stormy times in their life". And I think that's where you go, "Wow". It's not that you get close to God, and you never have hardship again. It's that you can get close to God, and you grow up and you go, "He won't leave me". And that's one of the most important things.
Joyce Meyer: It's one thing to say, "God is faithful," when you haven't had any experiences to go through yet. Then it's just a scripture you picked up somewhere or something you heard somebody say. But I know that I would not be where I'm at today, in ministry, had I not been through the things that I went through because now I do have experience and I have equipment, and I know what it feels like to suffer, but I do also know what's on the other side of it.
Ginger Stache: The thing about these big questions is we could talk about any one of these for the entire podcast.
Joyce Meyer: I started to say, we better have more than one here.
Ginger Stache: So, some of them we'll answer more quickly, and move on. Here's one, from daisy kipgin. So, I'm not gonna stop reading these names.
Lisa Harper: It's a happy name.
Ginger Stache: Daisy's a great name. "Is it okay to marry my non-Christian boyfriend"?
Lisa Harper: I would say no. I would say very clearly, no. And part of it is, I think God's word's real clear on that, not being unequally yoked. But it's not because God is punitive. It's because he wants what's best for us. And, years ago, I was probably 13 or 14 just starting to go with boys. And my dad was southern to the bone. And I came home with some cute, little, country boy, I was dating, and my dad said, "Lisa", he was a man of few words, but they mattered. He said, "Wantcha to come outside". He was like a miniature John Wayne. I was like, "Yes, sir". And he said, "I want you to climb up on that picnic table". And I thought, "This is the oddest thing". And I was like, "Yes, sir". And he said, "Now, give me your hands". I was like, "Yes, sir". And I held out my hands, and he grabbed my hands and he just pulled me, just a little bit, and I fell off the picnic table. And he said, "Don't ever think that you can pull people up to your level". This young man wasn't a believer. And he said, "They will always pull you down to theirs". And then, he just walked in the house. And I was like, "Huh".
Ginger Stache: And you laid there on the ground under the picnic table.
Lisa Harper: He caught me. I didn't get hurt.
Lisa Harper: But you know that has formed, and it's not that you're better, as a believer, than someone who doesn't know Christ. I don't mean to put that in a hierarchical standpoint. It's that they will pull you away from Jesus. You know, he says he comes with a sword. He comes with a sword, not cuz he's an angry God, but to cut away anything that threatens our relationship with him. And you will not be able to walk toward Jesus with somebody who doesn't trust him. So, I'd say absolutely not.
Joyce Meyer: You know, there are many, many cases where somebody has married an unbeliever and that person has come to Christ as a result of that. So, we can't sit here and say that it never, ever, ever works. But if we're talking about just the Bible, and wisdom, it's much better to follow what the Bible says.
Erin Cluley: I will say too, based on what mike and I walked through the past couple of years. So many times, I would say, "If we didn't both know the Lord, this conversation would be extremely different right now". And even, just the other night, we got frustrated, and I could feel it escalating. And so, I backed off and I prayed. I said, you'd have been so proud of me, Joyce.
Joyce Meyer: Ohhh...
Erin Cluley: And it changed that conversation. And so, I said to him later, "Isn't that amazing, what the Holy Spirit did? And we had a conversation that brought us together. But so many times I've thought, "If we didn't both know the Lord, this would not be working the way it is right now.
Joyce Meyer: It's always best to follow scripture. Even, as far as getting into business with somebody that's not a believer. You're not gonna have the same morals. You're not gonna have the same principles.
Lisa Harper: But you know, back to the question, if daisy really loves this fella, then I wouldn't say, "Kick him to the curb". I'd say, "Here's what the Bible says. Here's what ms. Joyce said. And so, I really love you. If it's meant to be, time and truth walk hand in hand, will you please start meeting with these gentlemen in our church who are really good guys, and they'll meet you at Starbucks or at denny's for pie and walk with you. 'cause I would love to be your wife, if you love Jesus. He's my first love, but I'd love for you to be my second". And maybe, take him to church, just like Dave did with Joyce.
Ginger Stache: That's a great practical step to take.
Jai: I think that's really a good point too. But also, I think it's important to say also, if you know, flat out that this guy doesn't love God and doesn't want, like, I can think of many things that I would think that after I got married that my ex would change or, you know, like, "Oh, I can help him get to this point". You know? Like, but if you know that this person doesn't want what you want, then you have to be courageous enough to know that, that's not the one. You know, don't try to make something happen.
Joyce Meyer: You're taking a big chance when you marry somebody thinking you're gonna change 'em.
Ginger Stache: And I think Lisa's saying, "Don't marry him until some things change," right? But still.
Lisa Harper: I think that's what, as best we understand the analogy of scripture, the full of scripture, I believe that's what it teaches. Even if you look back to Israelite covenants, I think that's what the whole of scripture teaches. But be a lover of Christ in that. Be kind to him. Love him well. Even if she has to break up with him, love him well, so he goes, "You know, I dated this Christian girl once. And even, in breaking up with me, she was so kind and so respectful".