The fiery furnace of affliction

By Dave Henning / January 1, 2014

“Each new morn

New widows howl, new orphans cry

New sorrows strike heaven on the face.” -Shakespeare (Macbeth)

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34: 18

In the Introduction to his latest book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller notes that no matter how cautious we are or how hard we’ve worked to achieve a good life, inevitably something  will ruin it.  Life is fragile and subject to forces beyond our power to manage.  Thus when pain and suffering come, we clearly understand not only that we are not in control of our lives, but that we never were.

Pastor Keller adds that the furnace of affliction moves us from an abstract knowledge of God to a personal encounter with Him.  Doctrinal truths stored in our minds make the journey  down to the heart through our experience of disappointment, failure, and loss.  Suffering is one of the great themes of the Bible, as Pastor Keller explains:

” . . . the great theme of the Bible itself is how God brings fullness of joy not just despite but through suffering, just as Jesus saved us not in spite of but because of what he endured on the cross.  And so there is a peculiar, rich, and poignant joy that seems to come to us only through and in suffering.”

Today’s question: How does Timothy Keller’s understanding of suffering impact your view of your ministry downsizing or vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A refiner’s fire”

Note:  In case you missed it, the Annotated Bibliography of Healing Your Church Hurt posted last evening.


About the author

Dave Henning

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