Thursday, November 01, 2007

Quote

In Piper's Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, one of the chapters is written by a man whose son was born premature and lived only 20 minutes. He had some piercing observations that just bring me to tears with how true they are right now. No one likes to talk to or be around someone who is sad or suffering very long (I've seen this). It makes them confront the fact that if my suffering is not a punishment or explainable, they too may one day feel the pain. It's scary and uncomfortable. And yet, my life right now is one of suffering, trials, and brick wall after brick wall. When we think we've had all the trials heaped upon us we're ready to bear up under, something else comes like a swift blow and I'm left dizzy with the implications. It's just a time of intense hardship. A season, perhaps. But here's the book's quote:

“I believe this avoidance of grief in our culture results from not knowing how to deal with pain. We get uncomfortable when we hear people question God. We like to give easy answers to try to minimize the pain. When someone says that they feel God has forsaken them, we think we must quickly preach the truth that he will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5), or they will fall away and lose their faith.
Part of the problem is that we do not see such pain and deep grief as normative in the Christian life. Yes, we all know that suffering is normative, but we don’t take the time to really talk about the pain involved in suffering. After all, it isn’t suffering if it doesn’t hurt.
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 then tells the story of nineteenth-century theologian Robert Dabney, who lost his two sons at different times. He said, "The great truths of the Gospel fell flat after his second son died and he remined 'numb, downcast, almost without hope and interest.' He says this makes us uncomfortable! Yet he DID triumph later & God carried him through faithfully. But he says, "Let us not so quickly go from the affliction to the deliverance and thus minimize the pain in between. God's promises of deliverance does not mean that he will immediately deliver us. For many, deliverance only comes with death."

3 comments:

Claudia said...

I think you're absolutely right and I'm glad you brought it up. I know we all wish you could move swiftly from the affliction to deliverance, but we'd be minimizing or ignoring the pain in between.

Reading your post reminds me of what I just read this morning. . .

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. -Psalm 3:5

You wake again. . .

Herb of Grace said...

How right you are that in our society we are reluctant to deal with the reality of pain. It is so much safer to assume that as long as I don't (XYZ) and do (ABC) then I'll never have to go through that....

Carolyn said...

I think this is an important thing to remember - that leaning on the great truths of Christianity does not take away the pain. It is real pain, or it wouldn't be a real trial. I can relate to this in my own life circumstances. People are uncomfortable around it for many reasons, one simply being that they *want* to be a blessing but don't know how. I feel that way when my friends are suffering.