Humanity is more alike than we are led to believe. The news media will highlight the differences between us in order to try and generate more ads. But if we look at Scripture we will see that we share more in common than we differ. The problem is our focus is wrong.
One of the underlying similarities of humanity is that we will experience suffering. If we are alive on this earth for any length of time at all, we will encounter pain. From birth, our bodies are decaying and slowly marching towards death. Despite being a tad morbid, it is a fact requires reconciling.
Paul David Tripp argues in his book Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense that it is indeed our focus that is wrong. People are tempted to doubt the existence and goodness of God when bad things happen to them. Rather than simply reading Scripture and thinking that life will be easy, we need to know that it is preparation for the demands this life will throw at us. Tripp writes, “Scripture works to prepare us, not so we would live in fear, but so we will be ready for the things we will all face.”
Instead of being content to simply give the “I’m so sorry” response, Tripp wants us to have more to say to our suffering brothers and sisters. He does not disagree that sometimes that is the most appropriate response at the time, but ultimately, our words need to be rooted in the gospel. We must seek to make that the thing that we use to soothe a broken soul. This gospel hope ought to be one of the most talked about things in the life of a believer.
We will have troubles. We will suffer. We will see bad things happen to great people. We will experience horrible things. It is a by-product of the sinful world we live in, but how we handle it is up to us.
A Summation Quote
“God causes us to long for and experience his comfort so that we would be ready to be agents of his comfort in the lives of others. This means that our suffering has ministry in view. Your hardships qualify you to be part of the most wonderful and important work in the universe.”Paul Tripp, Suffering
How To Live
When we experience suffering we should seek to see it as serving a purpose. Yes, it will sting to view it in this manner while we are working our way through it. However, the end result is allowing the suffering not only to drive us closer to the cross of Christ, but also giving us a relatable experience to those around us. People relate to others who have lived similar experiences than they do the average person on the street. It is human nature for us to be drawn to others that check the same boxes we do. The key is to show the boxes that you have checked.
My wife and I experienced a miscarriage with our first pregnancy a few years ago and then I lost my job shortly thereafter. During the time we were walking through the episode we experienced a wide range of emotions from hope to despair. There were times where life simply did not make sense and we could not understand why God would allow this to happen. We survived. We healed. We have never shied away from speaking about the loss we suffered.
It would have been easier to live my life not having to recount those days, but when I choose to focus on how the gospel became a deeper reality to me and how our story can be used to draw people closer to God, it makes the suffering worth it. Would I change it? Some days I am led to believe I would, but then I recognize that if the situations played out in a different way then I wouldn’t have my amazing daughter and
More to read on Paul David Tripp’s book, Suffering: