My life…amazes me. Shocks me. I could never have fathomed the issues that I deal with. Ben and I have joked that we know things are difficult when people continue to give us books with the words “Suffering” in the title. We know we aren’t suffering nearly as much as others we know. We have a strong marriage and family and an incredible community of people surrounding us and praying for us. But these books help us learn to trust God in our own unique circumstances.
Here are some quotes from the book “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.”
“Sufferers want to be ministered to by people who have suffered. …People who suffer want people who have suffered to tell them there is hope. They are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the reason that Jesus suffered in every way that we do, while he was here. First Peter says, “This (your) suffering is all part of what God has called you to in Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps.”
Most of the quotes are from the chapter by Dustin Shramek: Waiting for the Morning during the Long Night of Weeping.
“No amount of good theology is able to take the pain out of our suffering. Too often we allow ourselves to believe that a robust view of God’s sovereignty in all things means that when suffering comes it won’t hurt. God’s sovereignty doesn’t take away the pain and evil that confronts us in our lives; it works them for our good.
The pain of suffering is both dark and deep. This is crucial to see, for when we minimize the pain of suffering we can no longer understand the apostle Paul, who said, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor 4:17). There is nothing astounding about such a statement if Paul is speaking about hangnails, stubbed toes, and his favorite shirt getting stained.
So it is good for us to delve into the depths of our pain in suffering, for in so doing we will be teaching ourselves the far greater value of the eternal weight of glory.
When we read about great saints of the past, we hear about their suffering, which is immediately followed by their triumph through Christ. Rarely do we truly enter with them into their dark night of the soul, when all around them nothing makes sense.
He experienced the truth of Psalm 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” But let us not so quickly go from the affliction to the deliverance and thus minimize the pain in between.
Jesus Christ has felt such pain. He is able to sympathize. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16).
This is our hope in the midst of suffering. There is no one more powerful. There is no one more loving. There is no one more merciful. There is no one more compassionate. There is no other God but God. He alone is Savior, and he alone is Lord. It is because God is holy that we can have confidence that he will fulfill his promises to us, that his power will be used to help us, that his mercy will be poured out on us, and that his wisdom will design our suffering and everything else in our lives to work together for our good.”
So I can’t look to my circumstances. I have no idea what this year will hold for us. So I just wait. And try to trust God.