"Justin, why do you read books on suffering?" That is the question I asked myself as I picked up yet another book that details God's plans and purposes for suffering in the life of His people. The question is relevant because I don't suffer very much and am never persecuted. If I was experiencing extreme suffering, it would be only natural to read books to help me endure. But, I live in relative ease and comfort.
The answer to that question is easy. I read books on suffering because I know I will suffer. Jesus promised me I would and I believe Jesus. And, I've lived long enough to know that no one lives very long without meeting pain, hardship, grief, and loss. My day of suffering will come. If God gives me life long enough, I will suffer.
We can't wait for the suffering to be upon us to fight against the temptations to doubt God and call His goodness into question. We must fight now.
If I hope to endure my lot of suffering, I must arm myself with the Biblical meaning, purpose, cause, and goal of suffering now. I'm hopeful that when all around my soul gives way, I will have been prepared in some small way to say, "He then is all my hope and stay."
I don't want to dread the clouds that are big with mercy. I don't want to cringe under the pain of the thorn He uses to pin aside the veil that hides His lovely face. So, I think about and read books on God's design in suffering.