How Much God Wants to Bless You – By John Piper

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“The Lord will again take delight in prospering you.” (Deuteronomy 30:9)

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“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.”

“God loves to show mercy. Let me say it again. God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. That’s what he meant when he came down on Mount Sinai and said to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6). It’s what he meant when he said in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

“God is never irritable or edgy. His anger never has a short fuse. Instead he is infinitely energetic with absolutely unbounded and unending enthusiasm for the fulfillment of his delights.

“This is hard for us to comprehend, because we have to sleep every day just to cope, not to mention thrive. Our emotions go up and down. We get bored and discouraged one day and feel hopeful and excited another.

“We are like little geysers that gurgle and sputter and pop erratically. But God is like a great Niagara Falls — you look at 186,000 tons of water crashing over the precipice every minute, and think: Surely this can’t keep going at this force year after year after year. Yet it does.

“That’s the way God is about doing us good. He never grows weary of it. It never gets boring to him. The Niagara of his grace has no end.”

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Devotional excerpted from John Piper’s book, “The Pleasures of God”

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Why? A Series of In-Depth Studies On Suffering

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Having a solid theological foundation for God’s purposes for suffering (as well as a close relationship with Him) is key to successfully ultimately joyfully navigating the rough waters of life.  For those interested in digging more deeply into The Book on the subject of suffering, I call your attention to the following:

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Desiring God’s “Look At The Book” on “Suffering”

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(Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective)

 

 

 

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Foundations – Boundlessly Good

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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We have discussed in previous posts the importance of viewing our circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness.  The most comprehensive discussion of God’s goodness ever written was by Stephen Charnock in his book on the Existence and Attributes of God.   It is a difficult read due to its length (1100 pages) and language style (17th century Elizabethan English).   A modern version of Charnock’s chapter on the goodness of God has just been released, called Boundlessly Good:  God’s Motive For All That He Does.  It is shorter (print version is 130 pages, Kindle version is 236 pages) and much more readable due to modern sentence structures, etc.

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boundlessly-good-book-cover

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If you truly want to begin to understand the “why’s”, I would encourage you to look at this book.  It has been a life-changer for me.

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Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Continued

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In part 1 of “Narcissism and the Progression of Fools” we discussed the basic sequence of how a person can progressively harden their hearts as they wander away from God’s path.   A scoffer (one of the Biblical terms for a narcissist), is one stop along that path.

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For your further study, following is a list of all the verses which include the Hebrew words which were used in the previous post.  I have made a rough attempt at grouping them by subject matter in order to make it easier to digest the large number of verses, but the groupings and their headings are simply a guide.  I encourage you to study them for yourselves.

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Narcissism and The Progression of Fools – Introduction

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We have until now focused this biblical study of what the secular world calls “narcissism” primarily on the term “scoffer”, as one of the labels applied to those with insolent pride – the Biblical analog to the secular term.

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Proverbs 21:24

24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names,
Who acts with insolent pride.

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While not specifically called by the English term “fool”, the scoffer is part of a progression of foolishness described in Proverbs, starting with the “simple fool” (or “naive”), and moving all the way to the “committed fool”.  Each is a progressively greater degree of turning away from God’s wisdom, and walking an increasingly proud and self-seeking path which is independent from God.   Pride is a primary root to this self-seeking path independent from God, with increasing insolence up to the level of “insolent pride” (aka “scoffer”) and beyond.   Knowing this progression is helpful in identifying at least one of the ways in which someone can become a narcissist.

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The progression is as follows:

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(Types of Fool)     naive  ->  perverse ->  scoffing  ->   stubborn ->   committed

(Hebrew word)     pthiy  ->     ewil       ->     luts       ->      kecil      ->      nabal Continue reading

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Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Build Our Capacity For Love

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1 Timothy 1:5

But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

In the middle of our struggles with the N in our lives, we are typically focused on simply surviving the situation.  It seems incredible to think in terms of thriving.  And even more incredible to think in terms of moving past bitterness toward becoming a more loving person ourselves – not just toward the N, but people in general.
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However, God in His goodness toward us is intending to use our struggle to actually build in us a greater capability and capacity for love.  As heaven is a world of love, this capacity for love is not just for this world, but also for the one to come (heaven).   A greater capacity for love is not equivalent to being more of a doormat for your N, but is instead a broad-based foundation for a more meaningful and fruitful life in all its aspects.

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Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Motivate Us To Seek The Ultimate Answer

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2 Samuel 22:7 / Psalm 18:6 (the same verse in 2 places)

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

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Psalm 34:4-6

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.

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When things are going “well”, our natural inclination is to forget God, to not think that we need Him.  We naturally tend to take His goodness for granted.  An analogy would be teenagers that simply assume that their parents’ housing, food, access to a car, etc  will be there, without really having an interest in spending time with their parents – they just use their parents’ stuff to have a good time, without caring much about their relationship with their parents. Continue reading

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Why God “Allows” N’s to Wreak Havoc – Using Them As Pre-Emptive Constraints

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2 Corinthians 12:7

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

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Sometimes, God uses His tools not for “corrective” or “refining” purposes, but for pre-emptive purposes.  In I Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul had done nothing wrong.  The “messenger of satan” was only for the purpose of preventing Paul from exalting himself due to his extraordinary experience.  We as normal humans tend to get puffed up at the slightest “success” we experience – just think of how puffed up we would be if we had had an experience that was many multiples higher than anyone else had ever had.

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Paul needed the revelations that God gave him as part of his ministry preparation, but he also needed to maintain humility for his ministry.  So, God gave Paul the revelations, but also provided via satan a pre-emptive means for staying humble – not out of spite, or meanness, but for Paul’s good and God’s glory. Continue reading

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Narcissist Traits – They Contradict Themselves

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Luke 6:45

45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

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We read in Psalms 5:9 of a narcissist (aka one with insolent pride*), that “there is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself.”   And we read in secular sources (and have experienced) that narcissists can say something in one sentence, and contradict themselves in the next sentence (or even in the very same sentence).  It seems crazy when they do this – they seem crazy when they do this – and they have no clue that they are even doing it.  What’s going on?  

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Ultimately, as Luke 6:45 indicates, it is our heart that drives our words and actions. Continue reading

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Why God “Allows” Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – Viewing Our Situation Through The Lens of God’s Goodness

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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[See here for the road map for this discussion on why God allows narcissists to wreak havoc]

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Matthew 7:11

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

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Lamentations 3:22-25

22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

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Since

  1. God’s purposes, plans, and providences in our lives ultimately flow out of his divine nature, and since
  2. His divine nature includes being completely wise, good, loving, and just (among many other things), and since
  3. He has the power to implement what He decides, and the ability to use evil for accomplishing good

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Then, we can safely assume that everything that comes our way is not just allowed, but designed by God for our good.  So, rather than seeing things that happen to us as either “good” or “bad”, we can safely view everything that happens to us as “good”.  The only question is “how is God being good to us in this particular situation”?

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That is what we intend to explore in the next phase of this discussion on why God allows Narcissists to wreak havoc.  The intent is to  move from “why is God doing this to me?” and “how do I escape this?” to “how is God intending this bad situation for my good?” and “how do I wisely deal with it?”.  And, ultimately, to trust Him even when we cannot figure out what He is doing. Continue reading

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Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – “You Meant It For Evil, But God Meant It For Good”

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Genesis 50:20

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

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This was an incredible statement by Joseph to his brothers many years after they had sold him to slave traders – the start of a series of seemingly very bad things that Joseph had experienced at the hands of others.  He then went from being a slave to getting thrown into prison.  And even when he got out of prison he was stuck in a country not his own.  He was sold at age 17, and got out of prison at age 30 – 40 percent of a young life that was permanently altered in the process.

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It wasn’t until well over 10 years after getting out of prison that Joseph said these words to his brothers.  During the 13 years that he was a slave and in prison we do not know what he was thinking and feeling – it could easily have been a combination of things – wrestling with the situation he was in, occasional anger at his brothers, while also trusting God in the midst of his difficulties*.  We do know that he acted honorably and faithfully during those 13 years (Genesis 39).  We also know that God took care of Joseph even in his difficulties.  And we know that somehow during that time, God gave Joseph the understanding that HE was ultimately controlling things for ultimate good.

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The point for us is that more than God allowing evil, and more than God making good out of evil (“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”), God planned for the evil actions to be used for good – “God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).

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The difficult to accept, but important to understand point, is that God may be using your narcissist for good.  Yes, we need to exercise practical wisdom in dealing with them.  And yes, there are times to avoid them (see here, here, here, here, and here).  And it certainly is not easy.  But, the fact that they are in our lives is not random, but somehow designed by God for our good.  This may be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you may have experienced a lot of pain at the hand of your narcissist.  But taking this more constructive approach to how we view the situation can be a big step in moving toward real and lasting healing, and gaining victory over the situation.

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God using evil for good is one of the most difficult questions out there, but it must be addressed if we hope to get to the bottom of things.  And this is one of the handful of questions that people tend to choke on in their search for God.

God is much wiser (and more loving) than we are.  So we must approach this question from the viewpoint that God knows what He is doing, and that evil fits in with His plan of love.

We will explore how God might be using them for good in the next few blog posts.

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For those of you wanting to dig deeper into this subject, here are some additional resources:

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From Randy Alcorn

There Is No Pointless Suffering

If God Is Good:  Faith In The Midst Of Suffering and Evil

From the Blue Letter Bible

The Problem Of Evil

From Desiring God

Call That Love by Jonathan Parnell

Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be  by John Piper

John Piper on Man’s Sin and God’s Sovereignty

Seven Things The Bible Says About Evil  by Johnathan Bowers

For Your Joy   by John Piper

Can A Good God Bring Pain  by Dave Zuleger

From Grace To You (John MacArthur)

Joseph:  Because God Meant It For Good

From Tim Keller

With All This Suffering, How Could There Be A God?

 

 

 

 

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Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Providence

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Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

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 [Please see here for the road map of the discussion on Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc]

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We discussed here about God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love.  The next question is whether that “big picture” plan for a purpose of love also includes a detailed plan for individuals?  Is God actually in fact orchestrating everything in our lives according to a plan – even the little details of our lives, and even our difficulties with our Narcissist?

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The Bible indicates that God is indeed intricately involved in the course of our lives……

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Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

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..and knows every detail…….

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Luke 12:6-7

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

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 Psalm 139

139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all……..

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13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

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..and is thinking about us constantly (10 trillion times per second)

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Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

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Alistair Begg has some good introductory thoughts about this subject, as well as a clear example of how God orchestrated many details in saving a person (Mordecai) and a group of people (the Jews) from the hands of a Narcissist (Haman) – discussed in the Old Testament book of Esther.  These clips may be a little long for the YouTube generation, but its worth a look.   You will enjoy listening to his practical perspective, as well as his humor and his Scottish accent.

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We can be sure that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, orchestrating everything – even the “bad” things – for ultimate good.

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Psalm 23

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here

 

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Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Plan For A Purpose Of Love, Part 2

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See here for the road map for this discussion, and see here for Part 1

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God’s plan for a purpose of love IS based on a plan – which God wisely developed, and detailed right from the start.

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Isaiah 46:8-10

“Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

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The only way that God could “declare the end”, “from the beginning””in ancient times” (an understatement for eternity past), would be to work out right from the start all of the details of His plan, and be able to guarantee the execution of each of those details.  Any other way would cause the plan to veer off course.  Think about some of your own plans that you made in your life – they never worked out exactly as planned because there were always details that you were simply not able to control.  This did not happen with God’s plan.  He wisely planned all of the details and controlled them, so that He could declare right at the start what would be the outcome of His plan – the fullest expression of His nature (love, justice, etc) and strength.

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Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc? – Foundations – God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love

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Click here for the road map on this discussion about Why God Allows Narcissists* To Wreak Havoc

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Ephesians 1:8-12

….. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He (God) purposed in Him (Jesus) ……..11 …… who (God) works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

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God’s will is based on a loving purpose (“kind intention”).  That loving purpose is based on His inherent nature (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8).  And He executes everything, down to the tiniest detail, according to the plan which he has created (“works all things after the counsel of His will”).

The end of all of it is that we will praise Him for his manifold excellence (“praise of His glory”) which He has shown in every possible way – and of which we have been made a prime beneficiary.

When we ask Why He is allowing a Narcissist to wreak havoc in our lives, we can be sure that it is not just some random thing going on – there is a much bigger plan in play, and the essence of that plan is love.

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Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc – The Road Map

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Romans 8:28

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose……

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[Note:  After spending much time on descriptive aspects of who narcissists are like their “traits” and “tactics”, we are finally getting into the “why’s”  and “how’s” – Why God allows narcissists to wreak havoc, and How narcissists got that way]

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Part of successfully navigating the Narcissist* in our life is to understand some possible reasons why God is allowing this to happen to us.  The purpose is to not ask “WHY ME?”, but to better discern His loving will and ways for the purpose of getting in sync with God – for our good and His glory.

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When God orchestrates something in our lives, there is not just one reason He is doing it – He is simultaneously intricately stitching together many, many things in our lives and the lives of others as part of His Tapestry.  So, while we are attempting to understand what’s going on in a situation, we must also realize that at the end of the day we must trust Him – because we will never fully know and understand this side of Heaven.  There is a place for both understanding and at the same time a place for childlike trust in a loving Heavenly Father.

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But in the interest of gaining some degree of understanding as to “why” God allows N’ to wreak havoc in our and others’ lives, we are going to attempt to work through the following during the next few weeks:

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Why God Allows Narcissists to Wreak Havoc

  • Introduction & Foundations
    • God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love, Part 1
    • God’s Plan For a Purpose of Love, Part 2
    • Providence – God’s Detailed Plan For A Purpose of Love
    • “You Meant It For Evil, But God Meant It For Good”
    • Viewing Our Circumstances Through The Lens of God’s Goodness
  • How God Uses Narcissists (Even For Good)
    • To motivate us to seek Him
    • To force us to seek true wisdom
    • To test our loyalties
    • To refine us
    • To show us the folly of seeking our own way
    • To develop in us His ultimate goal of genuine love
    • As part of His plan for others to know God personally
    • To direct us
    • To give us ultimate happiness
  • Post Script
    • God deals with His “tools”

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Stay tuned……

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  • Narcissist is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
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