Suffering as the enemy of God

By Dave Henning / January 15, 2014

“Everything difficult indicates something more than our theory of life yet embraces.” -George MacDonald

As Timothy Keller begins Chapter 6 (“The Sovereignty of God”) of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, he sees two foundational balances in the Bible’s picture of suffering:

1.  Suffering is both just and unjust.

2.  God is both a sovereign and a suffering God.

Pastor Keller adds that these two sets of paired truths must be held together without jettisoning one in favor of another, thus enabling Christians to understand the multi-faceted causes and forms of suffering as well as providing a great range of resources and approaches for facing that suffering.

Even though, as the author emphasizes, the Bible is insistent that suffering isn’t outside of God’s control, it is crucial to understand that suffering is an enemy of God.  Commenting on Luke’s account of Jesus raising Lazarus  (Luke 11: 28-44), Pastor Keller states that the Greek word translated “deeply moved” in fact means “to bellow with anger”.  John Calvin’s commentary on this passage explains:

“Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites on our behalf.  He has not only saved us from the evils which oppress us; he has felt for and with us in our oppression,, and under the impulse of those feelings has wrought our redemption.”

David Bentley describes this faith in  Jesus as “a faith that . . . has set us free from optimism, and taught us hope instead.”

Today’s question: How does understanding suffering as an enemy of God alter or impact your view of your ministry downsizing or vocation loss?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “I hate Thee”, “I hate me”

About the author

Dave Henning

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