“I’m not sure I can name a place in American Christianity where we have such a strong, almost invisible, mindset that has zero biblical grounds.”
Author Bo Stern says we need to rethink how we talk about suffering. Many Christians believe that if we’re suffering, than we’re being punished.
The Bible sheds light on our circumstances.
“It connects suffering to entering into the kingdom of God. Suffering is pushy; it will push us around. It will push us somewhere. I don’t think we have a lot of control over the fact that we will suffer.
But I think we have quite a lot of control over where it pushes us, where it moves us. It can move us further into bitterness, it can move us further into isolation, it can move us further into doubt. Or it can move us further into dependency on Him, or further into open relationships in our community, or further into compassion toward others who are suffering.”
Bo is quick to say that she’s not urging us to have a stiff upper lip.
“When we suffer well, it just means we let suffering move us to the right place, to a stronger place, and not a place of feeling more shut down, feeling swallowed up in it.”
“We can survive theological gaps and misunderstandings when things are going well in our lives. But when we’re faced with a really big battle, it’s essential that we determine what we believe to be true of our Battle Commander and then stick to that truth like glue. We need to know the God who fights for us or we will be tempted to turn to ourselves or other sources for help. And that’s always a bad idea.”
Suffering can be a communal thing, but you need to be careful who you enter into community with.
“It’s so important to first understand what we believe to be true of God, or we will spend our time shaking our fists at Him and wondering why He disappointed us, why He dropped us, why He treats other people better than us. Suffering honestly can build such a strong theology if we’ll let it, because we see Him in the darkest times.”
Bo’s husband passed away earlier this year after several years battling ALS. She knows what it means to develop a strong theology of suffering in the midst of it and is coming out of the valley with one key lesson:
“We fix our sights on the God who goes with us into trouble. And when you know God will go with you in any trouble, it makes you very brave.”
Key Scriptures: Psalm 66:9
Featured Songs: If I Have You by Vertical Church Band; We Will Not Be Shaken by Bethel Music; No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music