“Here is suffering’s paradox: the very things we would do anything to avoid, the very things that confront our understanding of who we are, and the very things that cause us the most pain become the very things that usher into our lives the blessings of help, hope, peace, and rest that we all long to experience.”- Paul David Tripp
In Chapter 11 (“The Comfort of God’s Sovereignty”) of Suffering, Paul David Tripp discusses our illusion of control. Beginning with Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, the Bible confronts our delusions of and desire for control. And, like Adam and Eve, we don’t possess the power to supply what we need to make it our own.
Yes, God’s given us many natural intellectual, emotional, and spiritual gifts to help us make our lives relatively emotional and stable. However, we can’t take credit or blame for things beyond our power to produce. Pastor Tripp explains:
“Hardship confronts us with our tendency to assume that we’re in greater control than we really are, and because we think we are, we take way more credit for the good things in our lives than we really should. The opposite is true as well. Because we assume greater control than we actually have, we blame ourselves for things we have no power to cause.”
As a result, suffering forces us to scan our lives. We must face the fact that we control very little. Thus, we mourn two things – our suffering and what that suffering forces us to admit about ourselves.
Most noteworthy, suffering’s one of life’s paradoxical comforts. The fear and pain associated with the loss of perceived control stands in front of us as doorways to something very good. So, hopelessness = the only doorway to hope. We might see smallness and weakness as our greatest danger. Yet, the real danger consists of the delusion that we’re bigger and stronger than we’ll ever be.
Today’s question: What Bible verses help you take to heart suffering’s paradox? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “When mystery clouds theological clarity”