Janelle Alberts

One Thing God Never Said About Pain (So Christians Shouldn't Either)

In 1939, before Corrie ten Boom hid Jewish neighbors from the Nazis, she had a dream in which her family was dragged away on a flatbed truck. Corrie’s sister said it foretold bad times ahead, but comfortingly conveyed: God knows.

God knows? Was that some kind of warped consolation? We, too, know what awaited Holland residents in 1939.


Then 1941.

Then another four horrifying years after that.

Prime Minister Chamberlain told Holland that there would be no war. He was asking Corrie to close her eyes to the reality around her. Corrie’s political leader asked her to pretend this was not going to hurt.

Corrie’s God, did not.

One thing God never says about pain? Pretend it doesn’t hurt.

Corrie had an ironclad sense of God’s will, specifically that the barbarism going on around her was not it. However, stepping out to do something about it was going to hurt. God didn’t promise otherwise, but He did promise to be with her the whole way.

Years later, she testified that, in fact, He was.

That God could have saved them all from the Nazis was not lost on Corrie. That He did not was as confusing to her as anyone. If God so loved the world, then one would assume His children suffering in pain must be utterly unbearable for Him.

Which speaks to the concept of God’s love.

Scripture tackles the complexity of God’s love with Technicolor coat Joseph, who is known in church circles for keeping the faith, even though Joseph’s circumstances hurt him very much. How do we know he hurt? He cried. And cried and cried. He’d had troubles and affliction and he called his kids names that commemorated that truth. (Gen 42:24, 43:30, 45:2, 41:51)

Corrie’s father once told her, “Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love,” he said. “Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked, that means pain.”

Joseph’s story is about hurting, but it is also about love, happening right there in the same proximity. God was with Joseph. That love brought about national changes that saved lives and personal changes that saved a family.

But, the process…hurt.

Like Joseph, Corrie had other options. We all do. As Corrie’s father put it, “We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies too.”

Corrie chose neither to kill the love nor mollify the pain. Facing facts head on, she stepped out and did what she could, which saved many lives.

Pretending hurt does not hurt, is not an act of faith in God, nor does it accomplish the work that needs doing. Joseph got this. Corrie ten Boom did too.

So, too, can we Christians, so long as we resist saying false platitudes that patronize hurt and instead stick with God’s script on the matter.

He wishes we would.

Should Christians Trust Science Or Scripture?

Page one of Genesis describes the sky with the Hebew word raqiya. (Genesis 1:14)

raqiya is a dome. And, it’s solid. Also, it was thought to hold water at bay behind it.

The good news is the Bible wasn’t unique. This was a way people of ancient times were describing the sky. The bad news is, God didn’t say He wrote that other stuff. He does say He wrote the Bible. (2 Tim 3:16)

How can we Christians glean understanding through science without abandoning our allegiance to the Scriptures? Here are four ideas.

  1. Stop acting like science success is Scripture’s demise. Harboring bad feelings for science doesn’t show loyalty to God. He’s the One who created it all anyway, so why does unwrapping its truths throw us into a panic? Conservative preacher, RC Sproul, warns us, “Both Calvin and Luther rejected Copernicus as a heretic in the 16th century. I don’t know anybody in orthodox Christianity today who is pleading we teach [that the earth is the center of the universe]. Do you?”
  2. Know the history of the problem, especially the late 19th century science boon. “Steam engines, electricity…inoculations, surgery under an anesthetic…preached irresistibly the gospel of science,” wroteBernard Ramm in The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Back then, church leaders, who’d been largely trained in the classics, not in how to give proficient, measured responses about the physical world, reacted to the situation by giving oversimplified religious answers to science questions. We’ve been fighting that script ever since.
  3. Know the latest information. Philosopher of science Dr. Stephen C. Meyer said that the “…discovery of information embedded in digital form along the spine of the DNA molecule is a compelling indicator of prior intelligent activity.” In other words, it looks like things got started by a designer with a purpose. That’s not what Darwin said. He said it’s by chance. Several top scientists today are making the case that that’s not likely.
  4. Know what theologians said. Even Martin Luther said the writers of the Bible “describe physical phenomena from their own observational standpoint and not in absolute terms.”

All that may be interesting, but let’s get back to the matter of trust. Should Christians trust science or Scripture?

The answer is, Christians should trust God. To do that, we Christians must defy pressures that pit the spiritual realness of God (Scripture) against physical realness of His creation (science). We need to investigate and ask questions and be honest, even when it’s uncomfortable. It might be showing our confidence in Him. Because what kind of God can withstand investigation?

One that’s real.

Want to know more? Join the conversation with Alberts here.


God’s Liberated Woman – Salty? Or Sweet?

Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of how-to-be-godly messages for women and they regularly circle around the same theme: don’t mouth off to men. Especially husbands.

Right. Good. Unless you’re Esther.  Or Abigail.  And your husbands are being idiots. In which case God says to stand up! Speak up!

Instead, churches tell women to strive for the Proverbs 31 Woman. I just now read that passage and no wonder everyone wishes to be her - the woman had servants.

How did it happen that the “godly” woman message from the pulpit began pushing women to be docile and sugary sweet?

What about our salt?

I get it that Eve is the one who gave the apple to Adam.  Eve, Eve, Eve.  If only you’d had a support system and access to an online chat group.  

As for speaking up, if only Pontius Pilate had listened to his mouthy wife who warned him not to do it, no matter all the hollering going on outside.

As it stands, women feel guilty and confused.  As a result, we shut up at all the wrong times.  

Perhaps we have done it to ourselves, we women. We’re so competitive. Once we sink our teeth into how something is “supposed” to be, we stop reading/thinking/wondering/searching/praying and instead we’re ruthless in our pursuit to put an absolute label on those around us.

Many a righteous girl gang has cut me down to size with a look that says, “Your highlights look dull.  You can’t quote the Luke Christmas verse on command.  You don’t have an Honor Student bumper sticker for your minivan.  Why you so happy?”

It’s not as if men benefit from homogenized preaching concerning women either. No guy comes home from a Sunday afternoon of golf without penalty to pay. The shiny church glow has worn off, the house is a wreck and the kids need a bath. Everybody pays.

Let me blaspheme here by taking liberty with a Helen Gurley Brown quote on what it takes for a woman to really be a woman. She said, “It takes guts.”

It takes guts to be an Esther. It takes guts to be an Abigail.  It takes guts to approach and really know this God whom you have chosen to serve.

Take heart.  Yours is the God who went to the home of Lydia, who gave Rahab a place in Jesus’ lineage and who saw it through with Sarah even though she laughed at His promise.

Yours is the God who longs for you to hear His still small voice, no matter the hollering going on outside.

That’s liberation if ever there was.

Janelle Alberts spent her early career in PR departments for Microsoft and UPS, boiling down logical, clear corporate messaging.  She now attempts the same for Scripture, often featuring bits we’ve never heard, but wish we had, since knowing things like even Noah got tipsy & embarrassed his kids can help a girl rally to the end of the day.  Find out more about Alberts here.