Gary Habermas – The Worst Suffering We Will Ever Face or When God does not heal you (Essential Reading)

Dr. Gary Habermas – chairman of the Dept. of  philosophy and theology at Liberty University.

Gary Habermas (b. 1950) is an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion. He is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Habermas is noted for his work defending the resurrection and is often cited in the area of Christian apologetics. He has also specialized in cataloging and communicating trends among scholars in the field of historical Jesus and New Testament studies.

In 1985, Habermas and Antony Flew debated the question of Jesus’ resurrection as a literal and historical/physical event, before a crowd of three thousand people. The debate was judged by professional debate judges and was published as a book under the title Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? The Resurrection Debate (Harper & Row, 1987). (source

For apologetics resources in video and written form visit Dr. Habermas’s personal website at and here is the direct link to his video page-

The Worst Suffering We Will Ever Face

This message was given at Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg (February 2013) – Where is God when I’m suffering? Is God ignoring me? Does God break promises? Does God even care about my situation? Why does God let me down so many times? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Is God abandoning me? Gary Habermas explores the reality of pain and suffering and doubt in the Christian life. Dr. Habermas also recounts his wife’s stomach cancer and death and the comfort he felt in learning that we are to share in Christ’s suffering.

„While physical suffering can be, and sometimes is the worst, many experts agree, that generally, the worst kind of suffering is emotional suffering. It’s the worst kind of anxiety, depression, anger, and emotional states in which we really work ourselves up. How are we going to handle these from a counseling perspective, from a pain perspective and from a biblical perspective?

I went through a time of 10 years of doubt. And, because of that (I have written 3 books on doubt), I have had about 500 discussions with doubters. So, I would listen, and over the years (30 yrs), the question has changed a little bit. Today, the question I-m hearing from believers is: How come my prayers don’t get past the ceiling? We all say this: How come God treats me this way? Maybe we even dare to think that God breaks His promises.

Now, if you tell yourself this, and your faith is important to you, you’re beginning down a path of a lot of pain….because it’s sort of like saying your spouse is not true to you, if you have a good marriage. Because you are saying that God is untrue to you. First of all, a lesson in theology. God cannot be anything other than what He is. God cannot be unGod. You can only act according to your nature, and God can only act according to His nature, and His nature is a lot more grandiose than ours. Scriptures teaches that there a lot of things that God can’t do. Because of His nature, God can’t lie. God can’t cheat, God can’t be unfair. God can’t trick you, He can’t tempt you with evil. He can’t die, He can’t lie and He can’t break His promises. So, right off the bat, there’s something wrong with these statements: God doesn’t care about me… (It’s a) lie. He breaks His promises… He couldn’t, (even) if he wanted to. And those are the things we should be glad about. (7:00)

The #1 problem with this kind of pain, where you think God is not answering your prayers, so you make God fade in the background, is the world, God, our friends, they are to each of us as we perceive them. My friend to me is the way I think of my friend. Here’s the scary thing: If we lie to ourselves about God – saying He’s breaking promises, letting us down, He’s there for other people, He’s not there for me. The Scriptures say dozens of times that God is fair, just, will do the right thing. Must not the God of all the world do rightly? We all lie, we lie to ourselves. And lies cause pain. But, here’s the issue: If I think God breaks promises, then in my mind, (not in reality), God is a promise breaking God. That’s who I perceive Him to be. And if I think He’s a promise breaker, I’ll treat Him a certain way. And from that treatment pain starts growing. Anger. From anger, often depression. Anger is one of the chief building blocks. Anger and lack of forgiveness are the chief building blocks of depression. And chief building blocks of anxiety are – „the worst thing is about to happen, and it’s about to happen now”. That’s the flint and steel of an anxiety attack.

Sometimes it’s said that depression is living in your past, anxiety is living in your future.They are both very painful, but, these are realities only in my mind. Now, some things I think are true, but, the extent to which I lie to myself determines the extent to which I will experience a lot of pain.(13:00) You can’t control what people do to you (to an extent), but, you can control what you say about it.

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Consider this: You cannot state the Gospel of Jesus Christ without talking about the reality of suffering. Contrary to what many of us have heard, contrary certainly to what many of us hope, the Bible does not teach that it is about avoiding pain. There are dozens of verses that teach the reality of suffering, and we largely ignore them. It doesn’t preach, but it’s the truth.

What is the Gospel. There’s two sides that define the Gospel: Who Jesus was and what He did, and our response. Jesus’s side is the deity, death and resurrection. But, I can’t talk about the cross without talking about suffering. God watched His Son die. And how about this? Jesus was rejected by His family. That alone is enough to kill any one of us emotionally. Jesus’s brothers tried to take Him aside when He came into town. They thought He was nuts. That’s what the Greek says. „They thought He was besides Himself- two minds, and they tried to get Him out of the public eye. (It was like, „Come on, I have to live here, and You’re embarrassing  my friends. Come on… let’s move over here”) How about the garden of Ghetsemane? He knew why He came, and yet, the pain was so great. Although He wanted the Lord’s will, He asked, could He forego this somehow? Sweating blood is a well known medical phenomenon. But, it is caused by severe stress, which by the way, since Jesus didn’t sin, it points out that severe emotions are not always sinful. Paul says, „Be angry and sin not.” There’s a righteous kind of concern, there’s a righteous kind of anger. There’s an unrighteous kind in the sense of hurting yourself and others.

On the cross, Jesus knew God has not forsaken Him. Of course he is quoting Psalm 22:1 here. He felt abandoned. That was His human experience. Consider these verses. Sometimes we don’t think Jesus had to learn anything. There are several verses that say He did. Here’s one of them: He learned obedience from His suffering. The next one: He was completed by suffering. In John 14-16 there are 3 promises: Pray whatever you want in My name and you got it. In the exact same context there are 3 other comments that say: You’re going to have problems in this life. The last one says: People are going to kill you and think they’re doing God a favor. God, I thought you said that whatever I pray for will come true. Oh, I get it, whenever that persecution comes that will kill me, I’ll just pray that you take it away, right? No. Next chapter, John 17, Jesus is praying to God and He says, „I don’t pray that you take them out of the world, I pray that you preserve them in the world.

Where do we get this idea that being healed means being removed from things? What if it means not being taken from, what if it means God’s gonna take our hand through? We don’t wanna hear that, but, we grow that way. (21:00)

God can mend broken hearts. And God starts, in many verses, God starts in our being careful what we tell ourselves, because we multiply our own pain. We are told in Scripture that we will share in Christ’s suffering. Here’s one you probably one you don’t wanna hear. 1 Peter chapter 2 „We should walk in Jesus’s steps,” and that includes His suffering.

In the last 25 minutes Dr. Habermas recounts his wife’s dying of stomach cancer, and the comfort in the the midst of suffering through the loss of his wife.

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