“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of you faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1: 6-7
As Timothy Keller concludes his Introduction to Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, he observes that when we’re in the grip of pain and difficulty suffering no longer is a philosophical issue. Yet our experience precipitates “big questions” about God. Pastor Keller looks at the issue of pain and suffering from several different perspectives, all united by the image of a fiery furnace.
The author states that the Biblical understanding of furnace is more what we would call a “forge”. Heat, used properly, can shape, refine, and purify us. Suffering actually can use evil against itself, bringing “light and life out of darkness and death.” Rather than avoiding, denying, or despairing in response to our pain and suffering, we need to persevere with patience. Pastor Keller concludes:
“The Bible calls us to walk steadily through afflictions, and to do so requires that we understand its wonderfully balanced and comprehensive teaching on the subject- both profoundly realistic and yet astonishingly hopeful . . . . Suffering can refine us rather than destroy us because God himself walks with us in the fire.”
Today’s question: How might a Biblical understanding of suffering enable you to develop a fresh perspective on your vocation loss? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Maintaining a life of purpose”