In Chapter 7 (“The Gospel of Suffering”) of Glorious Ruin, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian quotes his friend Scotty Smith, who once said the “God will use the pain in our lives to make us cry uncle, so that we might cry Father.” The author adds that as Christians we serve an unrelenting God who desires that we find full satisfaction in Him. Often it’s through affliction or adversity that we come to the end of ourselves, ready to ask Who is with us through our suffering rather than Why and How.
Steve Brown, cited by Pastor Tchividjian, summarizes these thoughts quite effectively in his book A Scandalous Freedom:
“Pain is not something most people like. That is why we run from it as fast as we can. That is also why we aren’t free. Jesus hardly ever goes to those places where we can run. When pain comes . . . don’t run away. Run to it, and you will find you have run into the arms of Jesus . . . .”
As Tullian points out, if our identity is founded on anything less than God (idolatry), we’ll experience pain whenever that lesser foundation is assaulted, as it inevitably will be. It is not suffering that robs us of joy, but idolatry. If our identity is anchored in Christ, suffering will direct us to the source of our joy.
St. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 12:9- “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ”