If you can tell by my tweets the last hour, I’ve been really blessed, challenged, and encouraged by reading some of Tim Keller’s Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering this afternoon.
I’m struck in recent days as a pastor at the depth of suffering those I love and shepherd are enduring. Some of it is physical. Some of it is relational. Some of it is situational. Some of it is from sin that seems impossible to shed. Different situations. Different individuals. And while all of it is providential, the common thread is this: it hurts and causes us to ask, “Why, Lord?”
Keller has a testimony at the end of each chapter from a person who’s endured great suffering in their lives. I thought it would be encouraging to you who are suffering to read these words, because they offer comfort from a fellow disciple of Jesus who’s suffered…and found hope in the gospel. I pray it gives you faith to believe that God is good and gracious – even in the midst of your current sorrow, whatever it is.
What I discovered about heartaches and problems, especially the ones that are way beyond what we can handle, is that maybe those are the problems He does permit precisely because we cannot handle them or the pain and anxiety they cause. But He can. I think He wants us to realize that trusting Him to handle those situations is actually a gift. His gift of peace to us in the midst of the craziness. Problems don’t disappear and life continues, but He replaces the sting of those heartaches with hope, which has been an amazing realization.
I have come to believe that life will not always be as it is now. I find even more comfort in being able to stop focusing on all the heartache, and focus on the One who will someday take heartache away completely and forever.
I spent my entire life looking for, and never finding, a recipe to go from despair to hope. It did not come from anything I did or didn’t do. Hope comes not in the solution to the problem but in focusing on Christ, who facilitates the change. – taken from “Life Story: Hope in Christ (by Mary)” in Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller, pp. 107-09