In Other Words ~ Affliction

"Affliction will either warm you up toward spiritual things or turn you cold."
~Joni Eareckson Tada

We have all heard it, or some variation, probably more than once: "How can a good God allow suffering?" And we probably all know someone, or several someones, who has rejected God because "I can't believe in a God who would allow __________________." (Fill in the blank with any one of a million tragic, hurtful circumstances.)

On the other hand, there are many examples of people who have turned to God, rather than away from Him, in times of trial...people who have clung to God in the storm and come out purified and refined, knowing God in a deeper, more intimate way, and becoming living testimonies of God's power, glory, and grace.

Joni Eareckson Tada was one of those people. Paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, she has become an amazing testimony of God's work through suffering. God used her accident, and the quadriplegia that followed, to teach her total dependence on Him, and to give her a ministry that has impacted millions.

Our pastor and his family have demonstrated this as well. After the tragic death of their 16-year-old son last month, there was concern about his being able to preach again. He has been back in the pulpit the past two Sunday mornings, and last Sunday's sermon on God's goodness was one of the most powerful I've ever heard. It reminded me of Steven Curtis Chapman's comment after the death of his daughter in a horrible accident...that what he knew about God, he "knows a whole lot more for sure". Bro. Kent's sermon demonstrated a realization of God's goodness that was even more sure than ever, in the midst of tragedy and grief.

As I listened to that sermon Sunday morning, I remembered my dad's words not long before his death. He was experiencing horrible pain; although he was on powerful pain meds, they couldn't stay ahead of it. He was lying on his bed, knowing that it wouldn't be long before the cancer would shut down his body for good. I was sitting on the end of the bed visiting with him, and had laid Ammah Grace down beside him. As he looked at the tiny granddaughter for whom he had prayed so hard during her weeks in NICU, his eyes filled with tears, and he made a comment I was completely unprepared for at that moment. I was grieving the pain and suffering he had experienced for the past five years, and realizing, as I knew he did, that the worst of that was still yet to come. I will never forget the sound of his voice...on the one hand, breaking with tears, but on the other hand, as sure and certain as I had ever heard him about anything (and my dad was a pretty sure and certain person :))...as he said,

"God has been so good to me."

As Mr. James said at Daddy's funeral, and in this article, there are those who point to such suffering as a reason to doubt God. To others, as to me, God's faithfulness, goodness, and love are proven over and over again in seeing people like these go through deep suffering, and yet say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15).

The above quote was chosen by Debbie at Heart Choices, this week's hostess for In "Other" Words. To see what others have written about this quote this week, please visit Debbie's blog.


kel said...

Great post Jennifer. I always say nothing like a visit to St.Judes or Childrens to make me so thankful for what we do have to go through. After we lost our first daughter soon after her arrival I couldn't imagine anything. I have come so far from that 22 year old who couldn't see God. I am glad I have and I am so thankful for the trials we have to deal with.

Debbie said...

Oh Jennifer, I'm so glad you joined us this week. Each of your examples was so touching. I love what your grandfather said as he was dying. He looked to God and was still able to be thankful.

It's been good for me to read that this afternoon. Thank you!


Debbie said...

Jennifer, I read the article about your dad. What a wonderful godly man he was.

Denise Hughes said...

What a powerful legacy your father left for you - an example of faith in the midst of suffering. I pray that I would also be just as assured - no matter what life circumstances may bring.