Timothy Keller’s newest book, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering is a masterpiece. I’m preaching on 1 Peter 1:6-12 this coming weekend, so the subject he addresses is one in which I find myself neck-deep. Suffering as a Christian is one of the mega-themes in the letter of 1 Peter, and this specific text is one that addresses it head-on.
Here are a few quotes from Keller’s book that you may find encouraging:
“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.” (3)
“You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” (5)
“In the secular view, suffering is never seen as a meaningful part of life but only as an interruption.” (26)
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (30)
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.” (31)
“While Christianity was able to agree with pagan writers that inordinate attachment to earthly goods can lead to unnecessary pain and grief, it also taught that the answer to this was not to love things less but to love God more than anything else. Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace. Grief was not to be eliminated but seasoned and buoyed up with love and hope.” (44)
“Some suffering is given in order to chastise and correct a person for wrongful patterns of life (as in the case of Jonah imperiled by the storm), some suffering is given not to correct past wrongs but to prevent future ones (as in the case of Joseph sold into slavery), and some suffering has no purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for himself alone and so discover the ultimate peace and freedom.” (47)
“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.” (58)
I must give credit to Tony Reinke at Desiring God for mining these quotes out. I am digging into the book currently, but Reinke originally pulled these quotes himself.