On suffering

A pastor friend, now deceased, once gave me this clipping from a local newspaper from the 1950s. I can find no source for it, but I believe it is helpful in making sense of suffering.

Suffering is not God’s desire for us, but it occurs in the process of life. Suffering is not given to teach us something, but through it we may learn. Suffering is not given to teach others something, but through it they may learn. Suffering is not given to punish us, but sometimes it is the consequence of our sin or poor judgement. Suffering does not occur because our faith is weak, but through it our faith may be strengthened. God does not depend on human suffering to achieve his purposes, but sometimes through suffering his purposes are achieved. Suffering can either destroy us, or it can add meaning to our life.

—Adam Hamilton, Making Sense of the Bible, p. 227

And during a darker time, I saved this out of Philip Yancey’s Prayer:

I know a woman who did not pray for more than a year, benumbed by the fear that she must have committed the unpardonable sin. Thomas Green, a wise spiritual director dispels that fear. […He] recommends the following prayer:

Lord, you care for me more than I care for myself. I cannot believe that you are playing guessing games with me. If the dryness I experience is due to some failing of mine, you make it clear to me and I will try to remedy it. But I will not entertain vague doubts; unless and until you make my failing clear to me, I will assume that is not the reason for the dryness. (p. 201)


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