God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting
The Lesson Plan of Suffering
Countdown to God’s Healing: I’m excited to announce that BMH Books will release my fifth book soon (in April 2010). To read a sample section of God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting click here. To pre-order your autographed copy at 30% off, visit here.
Opening Our Hands to God
The Apostle Paul teaches us suffering’s lesson plan. Suffering and death are meant to teach us our need again.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
In suffering, God is not getting back at you; He is getting you back to Himself. The actual experience of dying persuades the little god that he is finite after all. When Paul felt the sentence of death, he understood that his only hope was the dead-raising God.
Suffering opens our hands to God. It was Augustine who declared, “God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there is nowhere for Him to put it.”
Moses taught the same truth in the passage Jesus quoted during His temptation. Why does God allow us to endure desert wanderings? According to Deuteronomy 8 and Matthew 4, it is to humble us, teaching us how desperately needy we are.
God loves us too much to allow us to forget our neediness. God makes therapeutic use of our suffering. Luther taught that suffering creates in the child of God a delicious despair. Suffering is God’s putrid tasting medicine of choice resulting in delicious healing.
Healing medicine for what? For our ultimate sickness—the arrogance that we do not need God. Suffering causes us to groan for home and to live in hope. The author of Hebrews, surveying the landscape of Old Testament journeys, shows us the way home.
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
God refuses to allow us to get too comfy here. Instead, He allows suffering—daily casket processionals—to blacken our sun so we cry out to His Son. Suffering reminds us that we’re not home yet.
At least, that’s God’s intent. Satan plots an altogether different strategy. We learn about his scheme in our next post.
Join the Conversation
What lessons are you learning from suffering?