Suffering

What causes Suffering ? Why does God, who loves us cause suffering, illness and pain? If God doesn’t cause it , Why does He allow it to happen? Is there a purpose for it? If so, what is the purpose?

I get asked these questions quite frequently and where I am not an authority on the mind of God, I will try to explain as best I can. Having said that, I can hi only answer them based on my own experiences. To be honest and from my experiences, I don’t think there is any ONE particular answer that can adequately address all of these questions. From my experiences, I have learned that God is Perfect Love. Because God is Perfect Love, He loves all of us perfectly and completely. His love is never ending. It is all inclusive and it’s eternal. Perfect Love could not, nor does possess any kind evil or any form of evil intent.

We know that God is Love and His essence is Spirit, therefore , He is formless, He is genderless,until He chooses to take form and gender. He is God, He can do whatever He chooses.

I call God a “He”because that is how He chose to present Himself to me during my second nde. He appeared to me as a kind, gentle, loving man. He appeared to me as someone I could relate to because He had a message to give me. He knows my heart, so He knew exactly how to appear and what to say. Because He loves so perfectly, He desires a loving relationship with each one of us, individually. Because we are all so unique and individual, God will come to each of us differently. He comes in ways that each of us can understand. He is one who has many names, based on our traditions and belief systems. But there is only One God, One Creator of all that is, all that was and all that ever will be.

Now, to address the questions…

We are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. It is within the human experience that our soul does the most growing. Unfortunately, suffering is part of being in the human condition. It is an inevitable part of our human existence but we can be rest assured that God does not cause human suffering however, He may allow it. We can also be assured that He will not allow anything to happen without there being a purpose. What is important and what really matters in the end is, what did we do with our pain and suffering, how do we handle it? Do we become bitter and hopeless or do we become stronger through it? Does our faith and trust in God become stronger or do we turn against Him, cursing and blame Him?

God gave us all the gift of free will. Everyone is given this gift and there are no strings attached. Sometimes, suffering happens when one person, out of selfishness or greed, makes the choice to overstep their bounds of free will thereby taking away or infringing upon another person’s free will. God could fix our suffering with a blink of His eye but He’s not likely to do that because if He did, He would be taking away the gift He freely gives. It is up to us to help those who are suffering because we are His hands, His feet and His voice in this world.

Suffering is often a great teacher. Through suffering, we learn about the hidden parts of ourselves that need to be refined. It also teaches us that when we fall, as we all do, it is through His Love and Grace that we find the inner strength to pick ourselves back up, wipe off the dust and keep moving through it. It’s like being the parent of a child who is just learning how to walk. As a parent, we don’t want to see our child struggle. It’s painful to see our child take a step and fall, again and again, over and over. But that child will never find the strength to walk unless we step back and allow the child to fall. When our child hurts, we hurt. It’s the same with God. He feels our pain. He understands it and He is with us through it.

The question is, when we are suffering, or when we see those we love suffering, do we grow from the experience or do we crumble and become angry, bitter victims of what life presents as tests?

I have learned over the years that I am a survivor, not a victim. I have learned through my own experiences, not to become stuck in my own suffering and misery. I have learned that strength and healing come when I reach outside of myself becoming become more compassionate and more attentive to the needs of others in their suffering.

During my second nde, after my life review, I heard a voice that I knew was God. He said, “ What you put out into the universe will come back to you.”

I had never heard words like that before. I didn’t know what He meant. Then I began experiencing what felt like being hooked up to “a giant IV bottle of knowledge. I was being infused by Divine knowledge. I was given answers to questions before I could even ask the question. I was having one “aha” moment after another. During this time I was given an explanation of the words God had spoken.

Your actions, your words and your thoughts go out into the universe. They spin, gain momentum, get bigger and will eventually come back to you. It’s like throwing a boomerang. You won’t know how these things will present themselves or when they will. But eventually, they will. It’s not a punishment, it’s a natural law, a law of the universe, a God made law. If you put out love, compassion, truth, honesty, those will come back. If you put out hate, selfishness, stealing, lies, those too will come back to you. Some people call this karma. I call it, the boomerang effect. That’s where suffering comes in, this is where free will comes in. We have the ability to make choices. With every choice, comes responsibly and there will be consequences. You reap what you sow. Good choices reap good consequences, bad choices reap bad consequences.

We in this human experience tend to label everything as good or bad, black or white, hot or cold etc. We label everything. But, on the other side, what we experience is just that, it’s an experience. It is neither good or bad. What is important is, what we have learned through the experience ?

When something happens that we label as bad and we suffer from whatever the experience is, we tend to believe that we are being punished, and that it’s God’s fault, or that He is out to get us at every bend in the road, that He is causing our suffering. That is not the God I met. He is not punishing us. He is not causing us to suffer. We do a good enough job of that on our own. God is our loving Father and like a loving father will do, He teaches us. I’m sure most of us remember either our parents or grandparents telling us when we were little, “ don’t touch the hot stove because you will get burned.” We heard what they said, but we didn’t listen and the minute their back was turned, what did we do? We touched the hot stove and got burned. They didn’t cause us to get hurt, we did it, but we learned. For most of us, it only took once for us to learn that having a burn is not a pleasant experience.

That is the same way God has been teaching us, His children since the beginning of time. He will tell us, He will warn us over and over but we don’t learn. We hear His words but we don’t listen. He won’t punish us but He may lift His hand of protection, telling us one last time, “don’t touch the hot stove because you will get burned.” And what has humankind done throughout all of history? We hear His words, but we don’t listen and the minute He looks the other way, we touch the hot stove and get burned.

Like all children, we will learn through our experiences whether we see these experiences as good or bad, black or white, hot or cold. Unfortunately, some of us can be stubborn and may think we know better than God, or we try to cheat the system, so sometimes our lessons may have to be repeated over and over, in different ways until we get it. God is not punishing us. God does not cause our suffering but sometimes He may allow it so that we do learn and grow. And sometimes He allows us to suffer so that others may learn from our suffering.

Sometimes, suffering comes because of other people’s choices, their free will. We are all connected. I may suffer because of a choice someone in my family has made or a choice that a neighbor has made. Someone else may suffer because of a choice I may have made, even if my choice was made 20 or 30 years ago.

Because we are all connected,whatever we put out, good or bad, not only affects us but affects others. Whatever we put out will come back, one way or another. So, I have learned through my experience to be very mindful of what I put out because I really don’t want to be hit in the head with a boomerang.

I learned that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s selfishness and hatred is born out of selfishness. We have the choice to cause suffering for ourselves and others by what we put out. If we put out or make selfish choices, we cause suffering for ourselves and others. If we put out love and we make loving choices those too will affect ourselves and others.

It’s our choice and so are the consequences of those choices/ free will.

Everyone suffers loss and pain whether it is through the heartbreak of a divorce, the betrayal of a friend, the death of a loved one or their own debilitating illness.

And, because we don’t always see the bigger picture, especially when we are deep in the midst of our own suffering and we are facing hard times in our lives,we can become bitter and feel that God has abandoned us.

Sometimes we ask “Why did God, who loves us allow illness, pain and suffering?”

The truth is, God did not cause our illness,pain and suffering. We live in human bodies in a fallen world. Our human body, although perfectly made and very complex,is still fragile. The human body will not last forever, no one’s will. The part of you that makes you who you are; your soul, your spirit, will last forever but the body that houses that special part of you will fail, it’s just a matter of how and when.

So, sometimes our human bodies get sick, they fail. God does not make this happen but sometimes He allows it to happen. Even though He may have allowed it, God understands what we are going through. He feels our pain and suffering right along with us. He never leaves us , we are never facing the trials alone. As I said before, we don’t always see the bigger picture but God does see the bigger picture. He has it, all of it, no matter what it is!! He is already at the end of it. If we allow Him, He will take our illnesses, our hurts, our suffering , our dissolution- ment and turn it into something good, where a hidden jewel can be found. And, it is in our worst of times that God reveals His love and grace to us as we learn to depend upon Him for our comfort and hope in life.

Several years ago, I had a serious accident where I suffered a traumatic brain injury. It took 8 years to heal. I suffered severe post traumatic migraine syndrome, grand-mal seizures, cognitive impairment and at one point, there was a misfiring in my brain,causing me to loose the feeling and strength in my legs. I spent 6-8 months in a wheelchair. After all those months, I decided that I had had enough. I wasn’t going to accept not walking again. I had to teach myself to walk again. Which I did. I had to teach myself how to take a shower, how to dress myself. I couldn’t remember how to do anything. But I didn’t give up. I did heal. It was slow and painful but with God’s help, I succeeded. Then, shortly after that accident, I had another accident happen where I was struck by lightning not only once, but four times. After the fourth lightning strike, I died which caused my second NDE. The recovery process from that was very hard too. I now have a Right Bundle Branch Block in my heart. I still have seizures, I still have severe post traumatic migraine syndrome. I still loose my words and some people think I’m not as smart as the average person. I was mocked, made fun of and some of the people who should have cared, didn’t care at all. After all of this, there were times when I was so tired of hurting, that I lost hope. I asked, “ where was God in all of this? Why did He let this happen?”

There were other times, when I felt God’s gentle hands holding me up which gave me the strength to fight.

God did not make it happen, He allowed it to happen. For many years I had no idea why He allowed it to happen. I asked Him,”Why me? Why this?” It took a while but I finally trusted that He did know why and that He would make something beautiful out of all my suffering. God always comes through if we allow Him.

Several years later, my Mom got sick with Alzheimer’s. I moved into my parent’s home. I spent the next six and a half years helping my Dad care for her until she passed.

At first it was very hard, I didn’t understand how this horrible disease worked. Once I saw first hand how the disease manifested itself, I did a lot of study on the disease and what I could do to help her have a better quality of life.

During my study, God led me to the information that not only helped me to help my Mom but He answered my questions from years previously, “Why Me?” Why This?”

The information God led me to

said, “Alzheimer’s is like a traumatic brain injury.” It was as if those words had jumped off the page and into my heart. And in that moment, I understood “ Why me? Why this?” I understood why I had gone through all that I had. God helped me to remember how it felt not to remember, He helped me to remember the confusion I felt when I lost my words and couldn’t speak correctly or understand what other’s were saying. He helped me to remember how it felt when my legs did not work. He helped me to remember the fear I felt when I got lost just walking in my own backyard. All of these things, my Mom was facing because of her illness. God didn’t make her sick. It just happened, human bodies fail. But what He did do, was allow me to experience to a great degree what someone I loved was now experiencing. Because of my experiences, I was able to help her understand and to ease her fear and her suffering. Because I had been there at one time, I was able to help others understand what she was experiencing. My suffering helped me to be more loving, more gentle and more compassionate in caring for my Mom. God did not make my accident happen. He allowed it so that He could use me to help someone I loved so dearly.

God has His reasons for why things happen, we don’t always know why, but He does know.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this, I know with all my heart that no matter what happens in our lives, don’t let go of God’s hand because I guarantee that if we just trust Him, He will always take a bad situation and turn it into something beautiful.

Waiting

In our lives, it seems that we human beings are constantly waiting; when we are children, we want to grow up, when we are adults we are continually striving for fulfillment and success and as we age , we look forward to retirement and the rest we so richly deserve.
We all have our expectations and if those expectations aren’t met our present moment seems empty and every moment that passes, appears extremely long and the waiting becomes a heavy burden because our future remains uncertain and unclear.
However, if our expectations are met, then every moment that passes, appears full of joy and seems worthwhile.
What would happen if we stopped the waiting and started living now, in the present moment with all its richness and beauty, with all its wonder, with all its challenges and lessons? What if we met each moment without expectation? What would happen if we just let go and surrendered ourselves to the loving will of God?
Since having my experiences, I often remember that feeling of the complete surrender to the loving will of God. It was the most freeing, most magnificent feeling I’ve ever experienced. I knew that God held me in the palm of His hand and that I was safe. I knew that He would not let me fall and that He was loving me every single moment.
The first time I stared death in the eyes, was at the tender age of thirteen. I faced the inherent built-in survival that everyone faces. At first, I fought hard in order to live, but there came a time when my soul knew it was time to go and my struggle ceased. I let go and surrendered all that I was to God’s loving grace. Over the years it happened again and again. I had no warning. Death came to my life swiftly, four times. There was no waiting for it, there were no plans made for it. Death came like a thief in the night. One minute I was alive and well, the next minute, I was facing the great unknown.
There was no last meal or last minute goodbyes. What was, was.
I have learned that every instant of every day is precious. There is no more wishing my life away or waiting for this moment or that moment, thinking that those moments will be better or more blessed than the present moment. I realize that all I have is right now, this present moment and this moment is a beautiful gift.
Sharon Milliman (c) 2018

Conversation with God

Me: Okay, God, here’s the thing. I’m scared. I’m trying not to be, but I am.
God: I know. Want to talk about it?
Me: Do we need to? I mean, you already know.
God: Let’s talk about it anyway… We’ve done this before.
God: *waiting patiently, unhurried, undistracted, never annoyed.
Me: Okay. So, I’m afraid I’ll do everything I can to protect my family and it won’t be enough. I’m afraid of someone I love dying. I’m afraid the world won’t go back to what it was before. I’m afraid my life is always going to feel a little bit unsettled.
God: Anything else?
Me: EVERYTHING ELSE.
God: do you remember when your daughters were young and one of them would wake up during the night and would come running down the hall to your bedroom?
Me: Yes.
God: You were still awake, so when you heard her running, you started calling out to her before she even got to you… remember? Do you remember what you called out to her ?
Me: I said, “You’re okay! You’re okay! You’re okay! I’m here.”
God: Why did you call to her? Why didn’t you just wait for her to get to your room?
Me: Because I wanted her to know that I was awake, and I heard her,and she didn’t have to be afraid until she reached the end of the dark hallway.
God: Exactly. I hear you, my child. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There’s another side to all of this. I’m there already. I’ve seen the end of it. And I want you to know right here as you walk through it all, you’re okay. I haven’t gone to sleep, and I won’t.
Me: *crying. Can we sit together awhile? Can we just sit here a minute before I go back to facing it all?
God: There’s nothing I’d love more.

Hundredth Name of God

What I have learned from a lifetime of spiritual experiences is that this earthly existence is not the true reality. What we experience here is more like a dream. What waits for us on the other side is more real than real.
I have also learned that there is a God and God is very real. He goes by many names based on how people are brought up and what their belief systems are.
But, whatever name people call Him, there is only one God, there is only one Creator of all that is.

During my second NDE, while conversing with God, I said, “God, your hundredth name in the Koran is God is everywhere, God is nowhere and God is in me.” God’s reply was, “ yes, that is right.” At the time, I honestly had no idea why I had said what I did. I had never read or even seen the Koran, nor did I understand what the words truly meant. But since that time,I have learned the meaning and the concept of those words.

“ God is everywhere “

God is so huge that Heaven cannot contain him; the sky above cannot contain him. God created space, and space cannot contain God. What we think of as outer space cannot contain Him. The biggest space you can imagine cannot contain Him. The God who made the universe and the multi universes cannot be contained in the universe or the multi universes. Heaven, even the highest Heaven cannot contain him. God is uncontainable. God has always been. God existed before the universe and the multi universes existed. God spoke and as He spoke, He breathed the universe and the multi universes into existence.

“God is nowhere “

Because God created everything and cannot be contained by anything He has created, there is nowhere,no secret place that one can go to hide from God. There is nowhere that you can go where God isn’t already there. There is nowhere that He is not. He sees and He knows everything we think and everything that we do, even before we do it.

I learned that God is not a human man. God is! He always has been and always will be. His essence is spirit. Being Spirit and being the Creator of all that is, He can appear in physical form as anything He chooses. He has appeared to others in different forms in the past( yes, it’s written in the Bible). But, for me, during my second Near Death Experience, He appeared as a beautiful, loving man. He appeared as someone I could relate to and was not afraid of. I knew He was God. But, in truth God is immaterial. He has no form. He was that huge loving, formless presence that appeared to me after being struck by lightning. And as I progressed further into my experience, God took form. He took a form that I could understand and relate to, one that brought comfort and put me at ease. During my fourth NDE, I went to a place called “The Void” and as I laid wrapped within a soft, black velvet blanket, in this warm, dark place, God appeared again. He was a huge loving, presence and once again, He took on form. It was the same form he had taken on during my second NDE but this time, He was huge. He was bigger than huge and He stood over me. Then He held me in His huge hands, telling me to just rest in Him. I felt so protected and loved beyond words. There was no fear. I felt only His love, warmth and protection. Human words cannot adequately explain God. But, His being is always fully present everywhere. He is fully present with me right now as I write this. He is fully present with you as you begin your day. He is giving each of us his undivided attention, and he is fully present in each of our lives, every single moment. He loves us so much that we are always in His divine mind, every single moment of every single day. If He stopped thinking of us for even an instant, we would cease to be as if we never were. Because God is who He is and His love is so great, His love is uncontainable. It is all encompassing. It is never exclusive. He loves each one of us as if we were the only one that He ever created. He loves you. He loves me. He loves all of us, individually, as if we were the only one ever created and He can do this all at once. He is omnipresent and omnipotent which means, He is everywhere and He is all knowing. Being everywhere and all knowing means there is nowhere that we can go where God is not already there and fully present.

“God is in me”

God spoke and as He spoke, He breathed each of us into being. We hold within our being His breath of life. We literally carry part of His DNA within us. He literally gives us a part of Himself, His essence, His Spirit. He is “In” everything He has ever created. God is in me, He is in you. God is in the trees, the birds, the flowers, the mountains and the deepest blue seas.
God’s hundredth name is Ana which means “Me/ I Am.”
“I am everywhere, I am nowhere and I am in you.”

~ Sharon Milliman ~
December 2020