This is Part 2 of 3 parts answering the question, “Suffering: Is the Joy of Jesus Greater Than the Suffering God Allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.
While Joyfully Suffering You Learn About God
In and from her suffering, Joni Eareckson Tada continues to teach us about victory, joy and the Lord. She also humbly allows others to teach about His greatness and faithfulness while they endure their own trials,
When I wheeled up to Karla Larson, excited to meet her, I said, “Karla, I’m so glad you were able to come. I’m so surprised you’re here.” She replied, “Well, Joni, I thought I’d better come before I lose any more body parts.” Obviously this woman had not lost her sense of humor. And she had such a fabulous time at our family retreat. We had five days of fun, inspiration, Bible studies, wheelchair square dancing, wheelchair zip-lines, wheelchair disco-it was such fun…
After the retreat Karla wrote me a thank-you note, tied to the toes of one of her plastic prosthetic legs. She sent me her foot in the mail. And the note read, “Dear Joni, since all of me cannot be with all of you all of the time, part of me will have to do.” Observing that woman –a double amputee, missing her fingers, legally blind, with a kidney transplant-I learned something about God…
The greater one’s need, the greater will be his capacity. And the greater the capacity, the greater will be one’s experience of the Savior. Karla is a good example of how people can embrace their sufferings, knowing that God’s power will always show up in their weakness.1
Joni and her friend Karla teach us how important every member is to the body, as Paul wrote, “…those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” (1 Cor. 12:22 NKJ)
We do not serve a God who loves suffering, but a God of love and mercy! He is the One who sent the Lord Jesus to pay the just penalty for our sins on the cross, so that we could be rid of their power and presence in our lives. As a result, their effects are also extinguished.
Yes, He is a faithful God, who looks after His children to bring them into conformity to the Lord Jesus. Lee Strobel spoke after the shooting incident in Aurora, Colorado about the depths that God will go to care for us,
As that wise man once said to me: God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain. Jesus is there in the lowest places of our lives. Are you broken? He was broken, like bread, for us. Are you despised? He was despised and rejected of men. Do you cry out that you can’t take any more? He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Did someone betray you? He was sold out. Are your most tender relationships broken? He loved and He was rejected. Did people turn from you? They hid their faces from Him as if He were a leper. Does He descend into all of our hells? Yes, He does. From the depths of a Nazi death camp, Corrie ten Boom wrote these words: “No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” Every tear we shed becomes his tear.2
The God of the universe is not so busy running the galaxies that He doesn’t have time for you. He is intimately aware of your situation and cares deeply about your every problem and situation. He cares so much that He hates the effects of sin and was willing to do something about it.
1Joni Eareckson Tada, Why, O God. (Wheaton: Crossways, 2011), p. 19.
2http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/ accessed on October 24, 2014.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.