“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” -1 Peter4:12-13
In Chapter 7 (“The Suffering of God”) of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller again emphasizes and revisits the concept that God is sovereign and suffering, yet also made Himself vulnerable and subject to suffering. Pastor Keller cites Dan G. McCartney from his book Why Does It Have to Hurt? The Meaning of Christian Suffering:
“The main reason that Christians insist that God can be trusted in the midst of suffering is that . . . God himself has firsthand experience of suffering.”
For example, following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, God often may seem to be absent. Yet Jesus personally experienced the searing pain of God’s absence on the cross when He cried: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Reformed theologian Don Carson expands on this idea by contrasting God’s knowledge and experience of suffering:
“The God on whom we rely knows what suffering is all about, not merely in the way that God knows everything, but by experience.”
Pastor Keller concludes that just as Jesus assumed human likeness through suffering, through faith and patience we can grow into Christ’s likeness through our suffering.
Today’s question: How can 1 Peter 4:12-13 be applied to the devastation and suffering following your vocation loss? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The suffering Sovereign”