Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Glory and Suffering (by Matt Papa)

Two pages from Look and Live... The words of Matt Papa, and perhaps especially John Newton's words here, are crucial in the fight of life as we press hard past the dross and filth and sorrows of this world toward the finish line of His smile and welcoming arms....  (This is only one of several excellent points in Papa's chapter on suffering.)

"God hates suffering, the Bible is clear on this, and yet He ordains it.  

Okay.  Maybe you say, "I get it."  Nice doctrine, man.  But still the bitter question remains, Why?...


We will never know the specific reasons why God allows the pain He does in our lives, but we can know what is behind our suffering and find an unshakable, incomprehensible peace if we look through the cross.  The cross assures us of God's love of us, which is the greatest thing we need in times of suffering.  

We all know this.  When you experience deep hurt in your life, you don't need someone to preach to you.  You don't need someone to try to fix you.  You don't need answers.  You need a shoulder.

Well, lean in.

At the cross we see a God who not only works for our good, but who also suffers for it.  Bleeds for it.

Look at Him.

The Infinite Innocent, suffering in the place of the Barabbas race. 

If you can see Him sweating blood in Gethsemane, screaming in agony on Calvary... for YOU... then you can find peace in your deepest suffering and hope in your darkest hours.  


Because now you have a God who understands your suffering, not only by omniscience but by experience.  This shoulder you are crying on not only sympathizes with your weakness, but empathizes with them.  But not only this.  

When we look at our suffering through the cross, we see that the God who ordered the greatest tragedy ever, for the greatest good, will order our every tragedy for our good.  

Look at Him.

If He ordered a bloody cross for our eternal salvation, will He not order our every little prick and tear for our benefit?  This Romans 8:32's logic:  "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"

Because of the cross, we can know that all trials we meet are for our good.  They have to be.

As Tim Keller says, "The cross does not tell us what our suffering means, but it does tell us what it can't mean.  It can't mean that God doesn't love us."

The cross is where we get faith.  And when faith meets a trial, it does not say "God is not good."  It says, "This is God loving me.  Indeed, it could not be anything else."

If you can see Him, totally abandoned, crying "why?" for you on the cross, then you can cry "Why?" to Him freely while knowing you are forever embraced.  
As to daily occurrences, it is best to believe that a daily portion comforts and crosses, each one the most suitable to our case, is adjusted and appointed by the hand which was once nailed to the cross for us.  Everything is needful that He sends.  Nothings is needful that He withholds.   -John Newton  (The Letters of John Newton to Mrs. Wilburforce.  London:  The Religious Tract Society, 1869.  p 75)

Selected from Matt Papa's book Look and Live:  Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ.    p 193-195.

1 comment:

  1. This book. I have loved reading this book. Finishing the last chapter is on my to do list today. My favorite from this part it "it does tell us what it can't mean. It can't mean God doesn't love us" I have been so challenged by this book. Thank you for sharing it with me! I miss you much, Jill!