Throwback Thursday: Half an answer to “Why?”

In a recent Bible study meeting this quote was brought up, and it inspired me to share it again. I cannot recommend Tim Keller’s book enough. It was very helpful for both of us. 

I am currently l.o.v.i.n.g. Tim Keller’s bookWalking with God through Pain and Suffering. […] I’m only in the middle of it, and I already have tons of quotes I’m just dying to share. Here’s one I read last night that really touched my heart. It addresses the question of “why” in trial.

“Yes, we do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that He does not love us. It cannot be that He does not care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering Himself. He understands us, He has been there, and He assures us that He has a plan to eventually wipe away every tear. Someone might say, ‘But that’s only half an answer to the question, ‘Why?” Yes, but it is the half we need.”

Amen and amen!

Reposted from November 12, 2013.

Joy in Suffering (Keller)

“Happiness is not based on circumstances. It’s not brought about by controlling your environment, but by controlling your allegiances.”

Encouragement from all over (Various Resources)

In the last several days I’ve encountered all sorts of encouragement on the web. I feel like I keep posting the same pastors and writers over and over, but it’s because I really respect them, and they’re biblical, and maybe a little because I live overseas and don’t have easy access to new people. But definitely more the first two.

Lately, I’ve been trying to cultivate the habit of replacing thoughts-of-the-flesh with thoughts-of-the-Spirit (ahem, I’ve also been reading Galatians, if you can’t tell). This means, as a chronic worrier, when the “what ifs” move in and the anxiety starts to mount, instead of letting it build, I try to immediately put something else in my mind (“Whatever is true … think on these things”). For years my first line of combat has been prayer (“God, please stop these thoughts/calm my heart/make me sleep”); then reading or reciting scripture (“At times I am afraid, I trust in You)”. I’ve had to build up my arsenal in these really tough times, though, and one way I’m doing that is to always be reading at least one book of encouragement (though I may be reading a book for fun on the side, because sometimes reading books about suffering, etc. can bring me down, if I’m not in the right place for them). Anyway, it’s really been working, guys. I’ll be lying in bed, starting to worry, and will just get up and read my book until I’ve replaced the thoughts with truth.

Anyway, let me share with you some places I’ve found encouragement lately, and you can take your pick.

1.) Yup, you guessed it, I’m going to say it again… Tim Keller’s Walking with God though Pain and Suffering (specifically parts 2 +3). I actually just finished it tonight, and I practically highlighted the whole book. I’m glad I did, too, because now I can go back and reread some highlights when I need encouragement again (which will probably be in the next 10 minutes… or 30 seconds).

keller

2.) Tonight I found John Piper’s small book (under 100 pages) When the Darkness will not Lift for free (pdf) on the Desiring God website. It sounds like the perfect thing for right now, and I’ll probably finish it in one sitting. It’s about how to have joy while waiting for the Lord. Perfect, right?

darkness

3.) My husband and I watched this encouraging 9-minute video the other night before bed. Sometimes a brief encouragement, as opposed to an hour-long sermon or a 300-page book, is just what you need for that moment. It’s a casual conversation between Pastors John Piper, David Platt, and Matt Chandler on trials and suffering. It made me cry, of course. I was the most touched by Matt Chandler’s words on being “perplexed, but not in despair.” And I learned that David Platt has faced infertility in the past, which led to my next encouragement…

4.) This short interview with Heather Platt was used by God to speak to one of my biggest fears right now — how to rejoice (and not wilt) when my close friend, who is pregnant, gets back to town in a couple months. Sometimes (not all the time, I know), it’s also nice to hear a good post-infertility, God-came-through story, which the Platts have.

5.) I also want to read Charles Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters, which has great reviews. I heard CJ Mahaney read it daily to his daughter when she was in the hospital with childbirth complications. It sort of looks like you can get the pdf for free here, but so far I haven’t gotten it to work. Let me know if you do, because there isn’t a Kindle version for sale that I can find, unfortunately.

stillwaters

6.) I read that factoid about Mahaney in this little list of resources I randomly came across. It’s meant for pastors to prepare their congregations for suffering, but I breached the system and am bringing it straight to you, no middle man. It has a few more books you may want to look into.

What are some places you’ve found truth-filled encouragement (big or small) recently? Perhaps a video clip, a sermon, a book, an article, a devotional or a song? Please add to my list! 

The Sweetness of Sorrow

I know I keep mentioning this book, but that’s only because it’s amazing and ya’ll have to read it. I am still in Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering and highlighting like every word.

At the end of each chapter he includes a testimony — a true story, relative to the chapter’s point, as told by someone who walked a certain trial. It’s a touching end to each message. I just finished one about a man who has ALS and his wife, and the awful trial it has been for them. I read the final quote by her and ran over to post about it, it is just so perfect!

ps119Just the other day my husband and I were at lunch with one of his closest friends and his wife. As we shared with them about our long, painful trial with infertility, we started testifying of how sweet this time has been, as strange as that sounds. We praised the Lord before them for how much this has grown our marriage, sanctified us, and brought us closer to Christ every day. We actually ended by wishing for them that they would be so blessed as to have a trial soon as well. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I’ve learned (and scripture supports it) that there is probably no better way to grow in Christ and closer to the Father. As much as this trial breaks my heart and aches our spirits, I am so grateful for what it has done in our lives.

I was blessed to hear this woman echo my thoughts:

“We have found meaning, purpose, joy, growth, and wholeness in our loss. How much I would have missed if I had opted out of this season. God has had so much to give me in the midst of it. I see how intense sorrow and intense sweetness are mingled together. The depth and richness of life has come in suffering. How much I have learned and how much sweeter Jesus is to me now.”

If you don’t believe me or her, maybe Peter’s inspired words will convince you:

peter
Click to enlarge.

Three Books About Suffering

If you’re looking for a book that will encourage you in your trial, here are three that I am personally considering at the moment. I’ve said before, I’m not personally interested in books about infertility for encouragement, because, to be honest, for me this trial has not really been about the infertility but rather about God’s work in my heart and life. Also, if it’s specifically about infertility, it’ll open the door for obsessing for me. So I’m currently thinking about reading a book focusing on trials in general to teach and encourage me. If you have another recommendation, please share! 


kellerWalking with God Through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller

My husband and I were super-excited about this brand-new book. We are huge fans of Tim Keller’s writing and preaching, because it is 100% biblical, it’s deep, and it’s relevant and practical every time. We are currently reading it, and I LOVE it! I highly recommend you buy it and start it now. I also suggest possibly skipping the first section and reading the last two sections first (Keller also recommends this in his Intro, as the second and third sections are written to people who are currently walking through trial). I was really thinking of writing a post just about how much I am appreciating this book, but I lumped the recommendation in with these others and will post later on some great quotes from it instead.

Continue reading “Three Books About Suffering”

Half an answer to “Why?”

I am currently l.o.v.i.n.g. Tim Keller’s new bookWalking with God through Pain and Suffering. I will be recommending it in an upcoming post featuring some books on suffering. I’m only in the middle of it, and I already have tons of quotes I’m just dying to share. Here’s one I read last night that really touched my heart. It addresses the question of “why” in trial.

“Yes, we do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that He does not love us. It cannot be that He does not care. He is so committed to our ultimate happiness that He was willing to plunge into the greatest depths of suffering Himself. He understands us, He has been there, and He assures us that He has a plan to eventually wipe away every tear. Someone might say, ‘But that’s only half an answer to the question, ‘Why?” Yes, but it is the half we need.”

Amen and amen!