“I wish I could say that my experience of suffering was neutral, but it wasn’t, and it isn’t for anybody else either. . . . our lives are shaped not just by what we suffer, but by what we bring to our suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God, and others will profoundly affect the way you think about, interact with, and respond to the difficulty that comes your way.”- Paul David Tripp
“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9
In Chapter 2 (“Suffering Is Never Neutral”) of Suffering, Paul David Tripp underscores one thing everyone who suffers must understand. You suffer more than the thing you’re suffering. Most noteworthy, you also suffer the way you’re suffering Mr. Hardship.
Thus, when Mr. Hardship lays the thing you’ve been trusting to rest, you suffer the loss of identity and security that particular trust provided. And that’s true whether you knew about that trust or not. In addition, the resulting weakness provides a benefit. By grace it frees you from having to prove any longer that you are what you say you are. Pastor Tripp explains:
“Weakness simply demonstrates what has been true all along: we are completely dependent on God for life and breath and everything else. Weakness was not the end for me, but a new beginning, because weakness provides the context in which true strength is found. . . . You see, weakness is not what you and I should be afraid of. We should fear our delusion of strength.”
In conclusion, Pastor Tripp adds, strong people tend not to reach out for help. Because they don’t think they need it. However, when Mr. Hardship exposes your weakness, you tap into the endless resources of God’s power that are yours in Christ. In weakness you know a strength that you have never known before.
Today’s question: Have you ever thought of suffering as neutral? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Living with realistic expectations”