Suffering and Joyful confidence - an excerpt from Soul Keeping


This excerpt is challenging especiallly for those of us who may be facing great suffering now and I don't want you to experience them as harsh or condeming in any way.  The first paragraph holds out the possibility of meeting God in your suffering.  The reflection of John's own experience is in the context of his ongoing journey of growth in God and learning to arrange his days so he experienced deep contentment, joy, and confidence in his everyday life with God.

For those of us who aren't facing suffering now, it is wise to prepare for the future probability (some might say certainty) of suffering.  Hopefully these thoughts will help you do that:

If you ask people who don't believe in God why they don't, the number one reason will be suffering.  If you ask people who believe in God when they grew most spiritually, the number one answer will be suffering........

In my own darkest time some years ago, my greatest disapointment was deep and unfixable.  I questioned my calling.  I didn't think about suicide, but I definitely thought that if my life were over, I'd be grateful for the end of pain.  I would talk to a few close friends, and they would generally give sympathy and support, for which I was grateful.

But then I did what I ahve so often done when I cannot think or pray or reason my way out of something.  I called Dallas.  I walked him through the circumstances and the heartbreak and the pain, eager for his answer.

Long pause.

"This will be a test of your joyful confidence in God."


I did not miss the challenge in this sentence, all the more goading for its gentle phrasing.  Not must my confidence - my joyful confidence.  Human beings around the globe had been suffering a year ago, and I was capable of joy then.  Why should i consider my own suffering grounds for a crisis of confidence in God when I don't react the same way to others?

If there is a God who is worthy to be the Father of Jesus, I can trust giving this situation as well as my own feelings joyfully into his hands.  If there is not, I have infinitely bigger problems than a merely human circumstance.  Eith way it is true: this will be a test of my joyful confidence in God.

from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg p179,184

photo credit: PhoTones Works #384 via photopin (license)


David Wanstall, 11/02/2015