"Trusting God Even When Life Hurts" is the title of the book our small
group will begin studying tonight. It's by Jerry Bridges, who has
written a number of similar books, two of which I've read and enjoyed
before. So I'm looking forward to diving into this one, and doing so
with others.

But although I know I am to head into such a study with an open mind,
I must confess I cannot help but approach with a particular world view
concerning human suffering, as follows:

* I believe it can be very easy to deal with the notion of suffering
from a "me"-ocentric viewpoint rather than a theocentric one. That is
to say, to treat Christianity solely as a salve for one's own woes,
God as the enabler of our goals and plans, and the Bible a recipe book
we can pick and choose from according to our whims. But God is clear
that while He is for us, He is ultimately for Himself, His kind and
merciful actions towards us serving His eternal and inscrutable
purposes and not our selfish and finite ones. It is human to want our
suffering to be alleviated; it is divine to trust in God's goodness
and purpose in the midst of it.

* I believe we should "let God have it" when we are in anguish. The
Psalms, in particular, contain quite earthy prayers - more correctly,
pleas - to God in the midst of fear, disappointment, and anger. That
there are so many examples of God's people pouring their raw emotion
out before Him would seem to validate that God is God enough to take
our unfiltered thoughts of our situation and of Him.

* I believe the best way to grasp God's perspective is to think of
situations in which we are in His position. Having kids has given me
a far greater appreciation for God's wisdom in ushering us through
seasons of difficulty and trial. On a daily basis, I do things - in
love - that, from my kids' standpoint, seem mean, short-sighted, and
uncaring. They think so because they do not have my perspective, and
they don't know as much as I do. How much more is God wiser than us,
and how much more should we then trust that the painful yank on our
arm is to keep us from a speeding car, or that the stinging substance
being rubbed into our skin is medicine that will heal our wound?

* I believe suffering increases and enhances our experience of God. Think of our view of God and His world as a ball. That ball is almost always smaller than it should be, because our faith on this side of glory is finite. Enter suffering, which comes crashing into our ball and then sits dissonantly outside it. We have two choices: deny it and hole up in our ball, or give God room to expand our ball until it includes the tragedy so that we can make some sense of it. I have, directly and through the sufferings of others, been privileged to have God expand my worldview in this way, and I am left, in no less pain, but with a larger perspective of my God and of His world.

Here's hoping God will use this walk through this book to further
clarify how it is He would have me to trust Him even when life hurts.
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