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.”
“God uses chronic pain and weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away. To live with your ‘thorn’ uncomplainingly — that is, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak — is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is a supreme victory of grace.”
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (Walking with God through pain and Suffering. Page 30)