Today I’ve finished Paul David Tripp’s book titled ‘Suffering’. I think this is probably the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of Suffering. Yes, I’ve read the classic ‘Problem of Pain’ by C.S. Lewis and D.A Carson’s magnificent book called ‘How Long Oh Lord?’. However, both of those books try to address the subject of suffering from a Biblical /Philosophical perceptive. This book by Tripp, addresses suffering from a deeply pastoral perspective. I again and again felt like I was sitting on a sofa opposite Tripp and he was helping me to process the pains and disorientation that often comes with suffering. It is a truly wonderful book! Here is a quote from chapter 2:
“you never just suffer the thing that you’re suffering, but you always suffer the way that you’re suffering that thing. You and I never come to our suffering empty-handed. We always drag a bag full of experiences, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into our suffering. So our lives are shaped not just by what we suffer but by what we bring to our suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God, and others will profoundly affect the way you think about, interact with, and respond to the difficulty that come your way.”
Written in a season of personal suffering and uncertainty, this is honest, personal, challenging and theolgically rich!
Here is just one small nugget to wet your appetite…
“I wish I could say that my expereince of suffering was neutral, but it wasn’t, and it isn’t for anybody else either. Here’s what every suffer needs to understand: you never just suffer the thing you’re suffering, but you always also suffer the way that you’re suffering that thing. You and I never come to our suffering empty-handed. We always drag a bag full of expereinces, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into our sufffering. So our lives are shaped not just by what we suffer but by what we bring to our suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God and others will profoundly affect the way you think about, interact with, and respond to the difficultly that comes your way.”
In my morning devotions, I’m currently working my way through Philippians in the company of Alec Motyer (through his excellent commentary). In Chapter 1:13-14, Paul is explaining how his suffering is advantageous for the advance of the gospel. Listen to how Alec Motyer unpacks this:
“He [Paul] did not see his suffering as an act of divine forgetfulness )’Why did God let this happen to me?’), nor as a dismissal from service (‘I was looking forward to years of usefulness, and look at me!’), nor as the work of Satan (‘I am afraid the devil has had his way this time’), but as the place of duty, the setting for service, the task appointed. When the solider came ‘on duty’ to guard Paul, did the apostle smile secretly and say to himself, ‘But he doesn’t know that I am here to guard him — for Christ’?”
Just spent the last couple of hours reading David Watson (a portrait by his friends). A really interesting and insightful window into the life and ministry of one of the most influential British Christian leaders in the last 50 years.