Conntecting the Dots

How Our Attitude About Suffering Differs From God’s

Over the past 20 years, our path has repeatedly crisscrossed with that of a particular family—one that’s had an overdose of suffering, or so it seems.

deepest pain

This family has five grown kids. One—a son—lives in heaven now. A car accident claimed his life. Another son—the father of two preschoolers—just underwent his third cancer surgery and awaits results. The only daughter is battling a rare brain cancer.

 

My humanity protests. Seriously, God? How much can one family bear? Enough is enough already. I’d love to wrap them in a protective bubble to prevent hardships from touching them anymore. And then the folly of my perspective comes to light in the light of His Word:

 

“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that he had to go to Jerusalem, and he told them what would happen to him there. He would suffer at the hands of the leaders and the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and he would be raised on the third day. But Peter took him aside and corrected him. ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’ Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s’” (Matthew 16:21-23 NLT).

 

Seriously, Jesus? Wasn’t Peter merely trying to protect You from suffering? Wasn’t his desire to spare You from pain? Your response then—calling him ‘Satan,’ labeling him a dangerous trap, and telling him to get away from You—seems a bit harsh, don’t You think?

 

We met this family unexpectedly again on the weekend. They updated us on the latest, but they uttered nary a word of self-pity or complaint or anger toward God. Instead, the father spoke of experiencing the Lord’s faithfulness in their pain.

 

“Our kids all love Jesus,” he said. “And we’ve learned to pull together through the hard stuff. I don’t know whether or not this would be true had we not walked through suffering as we have.” He spoke about Job and how he asked, “Why?” to no avail.

 

“God didn’t answer Job’s question,” he said. “Instead, He presented him with 137 reasons for why He was worthy of worship and trust. Like Job, I’ve come to a much greater understanding of who God is through our circumstances, and I know I can trust Him.”

 

Our human and temporal perspective, like Peter’s, seeks to avoid pain. We enjoy ease, comfort, and security. I mean, who says, “Suffering? Yeah! Bring it on!” But God, who sees things from an eternal perspective knows that suffering leads to a glory beyond our comprehension.

 

Where would we be if Peter had had his way? Where would we be if Jesus had not walked the road of suffering? Mankind would be eternally lost—doomed to doing life and death and eternity apart from God. And Satan would have whooped a song of victory.

 

This family would never have chosen the road God has called them to travel. But they’ve adopted His perspective, and, as a result, hundreds (or more) have watched them experience His faithfulness, strength, and mercy in the shadowlands.

 

May God grant us spiritual eyes to see suffering through His eyes and to respond in a way that both draws us into deeper intimacy with Him and brings Him glory.

deepest pain

5 Responses to “How Our Attitude About Suffering Differs From God’s”

  1. Marge Bennett

    I’m not attempting to equal the suffering of that particular family you mention by any means, but it’s interesting that this message came the very day after our pet, Sunny died. Sunny came here on a winter night, starving and dehydrated. I’ve never seen a cat so emaciated in civilization and he literally was screaming his meows. We took him in and cared for him and he grew beautiful and thankful, always gesturing his thanks and love with rubs and “talking”, and his little paws curling up as he readied himself to lie down at our feet. He would look up at us as if to say “I love you” and am perfectly content. He’d roll over and resemble the cutest kitty from Beatrix Potter’s world. He walked beside our feet when we walked, and one evening, he went across the highway and was hit. We found him lying on the grassy part of an “island” next to the highway while on our way home from a dinner. There he was, his little paws curled up the same way he did when he lay in our living room, so content. It was very sad for our grand-daughter and she was broken-hearted. God’s ways are not our ways; his ways are higher than our ways. Sunny enjoys the warmth and safety of Heaven now, and we have learned many things. God who created all good things is the one who knows what to do with His creation. He also heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds. He loves with a never-ending Love.

    Reply
    • Grace Fox

      I’m sorry about Sunny. We had a cat named Simba for 12 years–a beautiful orange Tabby with an amazing personality. It was a sad day, indeed, when Simba died, so I can empathize with how you’re feeling. You’re right about God healing the broken-hearted. May He do that for you, and for your little granddaughter as well.

      Reply
  2. Marge Bennett

    By the way, I am a fan of Elizabeth Elliott. She must have known suffering in her life. We remember the story of her first husband and they had their daughter, Valerie. Her husband Jim and team began a great mission in Jesus’ Name……….literally carrying out the Great Commission with an indigenous tribe in Equador (the Jim Elliott Story). He made it known that he/they were ‘ready’ to lose their lives for Christ and that is what happened. The mission in Equador continues to this day, but Elizabeth and friends lost their husbands when some of them had very small children. When it was time for them to return home to their families, it didn’t happen, because they had all been killed, but the work they set out to do, had already began……..the seeds were planted, and the wives and others continued it for some time…………until Elizabeth relocated and remarried eventually. I believe the LORD gave her joy in helping Valerie and husband in their family while they had their children growing up.
    He truly is a God of Love, and restoration.

    Reply
    • Grace Fox

      Yes, Elisabeth was well-acquainted with suffering. She lost her second husband, too. She married a third time many years ago.

      Reply

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