Monday, April 15, 2013

what I'm reading: When God Weeps - part 1 - God's character in suffering

I am reading the most wonderful book - Joni Eareckson Tada and Stephen Estes' When God Weeps - and wondering why no one recommended it to me sooner.

Maybe God was saving it for this time. I'm so glad he did!

When I suffer, I need someone to weep with me. I need, at least at some level, to understand. I don't need evasions and empty words, but comfort and true hope.

So far (I've only read the first section) this book gives me these in abundance:
  • It's beautifully written in colourful, fresh prose that surprises and moves me with God's truth (you'll love this retelling of Jesus' death).
  • It's honest about just how bad suffering can be. It doesn't pretend things are better than they are, but weeps with those who weep.
  • It's full of true, tested comfort because it's written by someone deeply experienced in suffering: quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada.
  • It's thoughtful and biblical. Co-author Stephen Estes handles the difficult doctrine of God's loving and sovereign purpose in suffering with clarity and accuracy.

Here's a quote I read, and knew immediately I would post. Every word spoke deep into my need.
First, despite Christ's compassionate death for our sins, God's plan - not plan B or C or D, but his plan - calls for all Christians to suffer, sometimes intensely. To encourage us, he may write some light moments into the script of our lives - he may include adventure or romance. An amusing situation will get us chuckling, and an occasional twist of plot may delight us to tears, for God loves to give. But without fail, some scenes are going to break your heart, some of your favourite characters will die, and the movie may end earlier than you wish.

Second, God's plan is specific ... He screens the trials that come to each of us - allowing only those that accomplish his good plan, because he takes no joy in human agony. These trials aren't evenly distributed from person to person. This can discourage us, for we aren't privy to his reasons. But in God's wisdom and love, every trial in a Christian's life is ordained from eternity past, custom-made for that believer's eternal good, even when it doesn't seem like it. Nothing happens by accident... not even tragedy... not even sins committed against us.

Third, the core of his plan is to rescue us from our sins ... God cares most - not about making us comfortable - but about teaching us to hate our sins, grow spiritually, and love him. To do this, he gives us salvation's benefits only gradually, sometimes painfully gradually. In other words, he lets us continue to feel much of sin's sting while we are headed for heaven. This constantly reminds us of what we're being delivered from, exposing sin for the poison it is. Thus evil (suffering) is turned on it's head to defeat evil (sin) - all to the praise of God's wisdom.

Last, every sorrow we taste will one day prove to be the best possible thing that could have happened. We will thank God endlessly in heaven for the trials he sent us here. This is not Disneyland - it is truth.

Quote is from Joni Eareckson Tada and Stephen Estes' When God Weeps p. 56, emphases in bold mine.


Karen said...

I saw this book recommended in another book that I've recently finished reading (When Life and Beliefs Collide by Carolyn Custis James). I was thinking When God Weeps sounded like it would be a worthwhile read then, so thanks for the recommendation :)

Dinah Neri said...

I love this book,a and intend reading it a second time; I suffer chronic fatigue, pain and disability and found it hugely helpful.

Your blog is a great encouragement to emotional honesty, and sharing!

Jean said...

Dinah, I'm sorry for not responding sooner. I am sorry to hear about your struggles, and glad to hear you are encouraged by the blog.

Karen, happy reading! :)