We’re never passive sufferers

By Dave Henning / December 8, 2018

“You and I are never passive sufferers, and the pain we experience is never just physical or emotional.  Suffering is a deeply theological and profound spiritual experience.”- Paul David Tripp

As Paul David Tripp continues Chapter 3 of Suffering, he explains why suffering is spiritual warfare.  Because, unlike machines, when something dysfunctions in us, we feel sadness and worry tempts us.  In addition, we question long-held beliefs, wish we could live another person’s life, and express concern over what the future holds.

Furthermore, Pastor Tripp observes, we never leave alone anything that happens to or around us.  Thus, we process everything through our conceptual, emotional, spiritual (CES) grid.  As a result, your experiences don’t just shape you.  You give shape to those experiences.  This, in turn, shapes the way you see and understand your suffering as well as the short- and long-term impact it has on you.

Most noteworthy, the author underscores, physical suffering always transforms into hardship of the heart.  What begins as physical suffering soon becomes a war of thought and desires.  Also, suffering exposes hidden elements of our CES.  Suffering, then:

  • challenges old assumptions and often replaces them with new questions
  • tempts us to want answers in areas where God’s been silent
  • is emotionally exhausting and spiritually burdensome
  • makes us vulnerable in areas of perceived strength
  • is never just physical, but always also becomes suffering of the heart
  • tends to assault deeply held beliefs and strengthen long-held doubts

In conclusion, Pastor Tripp stresses, we suffer as creatures of God, the subject of His sovereign rule, and as the redeemed children of God.  So, the author makes the following point:

” . . . the sense you make about God’s involvement or noninvolvement in your suffering, the sense you make out of his purpose for or distance from your suffering, and the conclusions you make about his care and ability to help will have a huge influence on your experience of suffering.”

Today’s question: How do you react to Pastor Tripp’s statement that we’re never passive sufferers?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Suffering creates focused awareness”

About the author

Dave Henning

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