Purification, not punishment

By Dave Henning / January 4, 2014

As Timothy Keller concludes Chapter 1 of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, he notes that, in contrast to older cultures that sought edification through their sufferings by looking inside, Western people often simply are outraged by their suffering and seek ways to control or prevent it.  This happens when the sense of God’s ordering presence begins to ebb.

However, Pastor Keller states that Christians are permitted and even encouraged to express their anguish with cries and questions.  Life just isn’t fair.  Yet, as Max Scheler writes in “The Meaning of Suffering”, through Jesus’ innocent suffering and death on the cross, suffering becomes “purification, not punishment.”

Pastor Keller summarizes that Christianity teaches that suffering is overwhelming, real, often unfair, and meaningful:

“There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.”

As Christians, we’re empowered to sit in the midst of worldly sorrow, partaking in a foretaste of the feast to come.

Today’s question: How does understanding suffering as empowering cast your ministry downsizing or vocation loss in a different light?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Greater room for sorrow- greater basis for hope”

About the author

Dave Henning

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