Principles from Be Still, My Soul
In preparing to share about suffering, I’ve been reading Be Still, My Soul and learning how other followers of Jesus view suffering. Here’s what they said:
Suffering is not something to avoid.
God can use suffering. See what He did with Jesus on the cross! He forgave our sins, through a painful and suffering death. (Tim Keller)
Suffering brings us into God’s joy.
This is not because he likes to see us suffer (He does not!), but because it brings us into closer friendship with Him. Peter says,
“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
This is joy on God’s terms. He takes great joy in your perseverance and growth through suffering, and He will reward you, 1 Peter says. Therefore, we cannot fully experience His joy without suffering. (Joni Eareckson Toda)
Suffering passes only by bearing it.
“God is a God who bears. Jesus the Son of God bore our flesh.” Jesus bore our sins on the cross. and if we are to share in the sufferings of Christ, it means we bear our sufferings until they pass just as Jesus did on the cross. As we do, Christ shares the burden of our suffering, as is made clear in Mat 11:28-30 where Jesus says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Bearing the yoke with Jesus means he is sharing our load with us. Imagine that! We are under the same yoke with Jesus, and as we bear the suffering together, it passes – with joy and his nearness. And it leads to rest for our souls. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Suffering forces us to face who our God is.
- When suffering shakes our faith, we can lose the God we had; our perception was not correct. (Abraham Kuyper)
- Suffering becomes a test and we must decide if we believe when no answer comes to our question of “Why? What’s the purpose of this suffering?” (Martin Lloyd Jones)
- When you can’t see God’s hand, you can trust his heart. (African proverb)
- God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves. (Joni Eareckson Toda)
- And yet another says that in order for God to prepare us for usefulness, painful shaping and pruning must take place: “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” (A.W. Tozer)
It can hurt to move into bearing God’s image more clearly as we follow Christ. But the pain and suffering is necessary for growth, as we understand God more accurately.
Next week is the last of this series on suffering, as I share three “ticket” stories that will bring all of this to a memorable conclusion. Your view of suffering just may be changed.