Reflections on Pain and Suffering

In light of recent events in Chatham with Natasha Smids and her horrific workplace accident, we as the Quizzing Committee wish to address the thoughts of many at the moment and the dilemma of why “bad things happen to good people”.  Schools send in trauma counselors to offer their version of hope, and we have the ultimate hope – “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19).

Our theme for the year is “Hang in There” from Hebrews and 1&2 Peter. Are you currently wondering why you should “Hang in There” now? Is the LORD disciplining Natasha because He actually loves her?  –  “the Lord disciplines the one He loves” (Heb. 12:6).  Is He actually strengthening her “feeble arms and weak knees”?

Is the LORD actually “making level paths for her rugby feet” that “the lame may not be disabled but rather healed” (Heb. 12:12,13)?

Is this a trial that we really want? Indeed, this Christian path is “a great conflict of sufferings” – (Heb. 10:32). That is not to be minimized.

As we come to Peter with virtually the same theme, we see that these trials have come to prove the genuineness of our faith – “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). Or at the very least, to give us far greater worth than what we had before.  In short, we see that this short and fiery trial is of “greater worth than gold”- as puzzling as that sounds. But just ask Joni Eareckson Tada.

It is of greater worth, since hanging in faith despite this “unpleasant trial” (Hebrews 12:11) causes us to display an even greater faith and an even greater yearning for Christ.

This morning, Solid Joys by John Piper posted the following from 1 Peter 5:10.  We share it and give credit to John Piper for his timely words for our suffering this week.

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

Sometimes in the midst of the afflictions and ordinary stresses of daily life, we may cry out, “How long, O Lord? I can’t see beyond today’s pain. What will tomorrow bring? Will you be there for that affliction too?”

This question is utterly urgent, because Jesus said, “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). We tremble at the thought of being among “those who shrink back and are destroyed” (Hebrews 10:39). We are not playing games. Suffering is a horrible threat to faith in God’s future grace.

Therefore, it is a wonderful thing to hear Peter promise the afflicted and weary Christians, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).

The assurance that he will not delay beyond what we can endure, and that he will abolish the flaws we bemoan, and that he will establish forever what has tottered so long — that assurance comes from the God of “all grace.”

God is not the God of some grace — like bygone grace. He is “the God of all grace” — including the infinite, inexhaustible stores of future grace, that we need to endure to the end.

Faith in that future grace, strengthened by the memory of past grace, is the key to enduring on the narrow and hard road that leads to life.

John Piper’s writings answer some of our questions so fittingly there.

As the apostle Peter writes, this major trial draws us to display an even greater love for Him being our Saviour- (2 Peter 1:1, 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, 3:18).  A Saviour that we so desperately need.

We should definitely “not throw away our confidence” in Christ as a result of this brutal trial. We should definitely Hang in There because our confidence will ultimately be “richly rewarded”- (Hebrews 10:35).

A confidence in what we hope for, though we do not yet see – “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

In Christ,
Ron Van Brenk and the rest of the CCD Quizzing Committee

2 Peter 1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.

2 Peter 1:11  And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:20  If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

2 Peter 3:2  I want to you recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.

2 Peter 3:18  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.