Our Heroes Gate staff and volunteers were blessed and honored to have Jessica Kelley speak at our Mid-Winter Training at the end of January. Jessica shared with us how she came to set aside a “Blueprint Worldview” of God and came, instead, to believe firmly in a “Warfare Worldview.” We asked her to write a post for our blog giving a brief summary of what she talked about at the training with our volunteers and the insights she had for helping them work with kids who may be experiencing tragedy or hardship. Though written with volunteers and ministry in mind, the principles and ideas she lays out can easily be translated into family life and friendships.
By Jessica Kelley
Recently I had the privilege of speaking with the Heroes Gate Volunteers regarding God’s role in suffering. This subject is especially meaningful to me as a survivor of child loss, and it’s a topic I enjoy researching, writing, and occasionally speaking about.
Our training began with a discussion about the monumental suffering transpiring throughout the world. We noted that the typical Christian response to pain is filtered through the blueprint worldview. The blueprint worldview is the belief that God planned or specifically pre-approved every event that humanity would experience from the foundations of time. This would mean that both good things and evil things are part of God’s mysterious, divine plan to glorify himself. We’ve all heard blueprint thinking in clichés like, “Everything happens for a reason,” or “It’s all part of God’s plan.”
Perhaps the biggest problem with the blueprint worldview is that it pollutes our picture of God. It portrays an all-controlling God whose character is mysterious and whose plan seems arbitrary. It renders God as the designer of, or complicit in, specific horrors ranging from individual kidnappings to the Holocaust. And this begs the question: If this is God, and God is love, what does love even mean?
We then turned our attention to the warfare worldview. The warfare worldview asserts that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that his purpose in creation was to expand his love. This desire involved risk, however, because God wanted a bride, not a robot. It was necessary for God to offer his creation the irrevocable (no-take-backs!) freedom to choose love or reject love. Because God is all-knowing, he would have perfectly anticipated the possibility that love would be rejected. Yet due to his unlimited intelligence and creativity, God could be confident that even if love was rejected, he possessed the wisdom to ultimately bring all things under his loving lordship. It was a hope-filled risk.
A quick scan around the world today confirms that love is often rejected. Disease, oppression, violence – these don’t reflect the blueprint of a loving God. In fact, Jesus consistently battled against such things while identifying Satan as the “ruler of this world,” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). The good news is that God will have the ultimate victory, but for now when we encounter radical suffering we can echo Jesus’ words in Matthew 13 and proclaim, “An enemy did this.”
How does the warfare worldview impact the way Heroes Gate volunteers respond to hurting children? Let’s say a child comes in and confides that her mother’s cancer has suddenly returned. Below are three phrases to avoid and three suggested responses.
Instead of: “God knows what he’s doing” or “It was meant to be.”
Perhaps offer: “God knows how to meet you in this pain to bring comfort.”
Instead of: “God’s ways are sometimes mysterious.”
Perhaps offer: “We know God’s heart, Jesus perfectly revealed it. God loves you deeply and is hurting with you. And yet we can be confident in God’s creativity, wisdom, and desire to work with us to bring good out of this.”
Instead of: “We can trust that this is God’s plan/timing/will.”
Perhaps offer: “We can trust the heart of God, and know that he wouldn’t want this for you. You’re not being punished, and it’s not your fault. And while God wouldn’t desire for you to suffer this way, he’s always had a plan in place just in case this happened and he knows how to bring the most good out of it.”
If you have questions, comments, or would simply like to learn more about our family’s story, please visit http://jessicakelley.com.