You want to “suffer well”? — a poster

Or running away into the mountains . . . or going over a wall in a basket . . . or hiding on a roof . . . 

There is still suffering in the loss of a relationship and recovery from a betrayal, suffering that will remind us to turn our eyes to Jesus Christ for our hope and healing. But this is not the willful suffering of putting oneself under cruelty on purpose, thinking that it will somehow refine you.

There is only one Refiner. It is Jesus Christ. There is only one way to be refined. It is by faith in Him.

Sometimes suffering is completely unavoidable. Sometimes suffering is a path we must go through in order to attain a vital goal. But instead of assuming that all suffering is desirable, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern. Is this suffering completely unavoidable? Is this suffering to be endured for a vital goal?

Or is this a suffering that we can and should escape?

We can suffer intelligently.

Don’t be a martyr, but do suffer in your marriage to an angry husband (and other “Biblical counseling”)

Yesterday I applied Caroline Newheiser’s lecture “Living with an Angry Husband” (link) to the wife of Devin Patrick Kelley, the man who shot and killed 26 people in a Texas church on November 5, 2017. It is a lecture that sounds a very uncertain call to the church, with contradictory counsel. Through the whole time I listened to it, I kept taking off my glasses to rub my aching temples. You can read that Part One commentary here (link). Continue reading

Does God crush you like a rose to make perfume?

Someone wrote to me recently about songs that ask God to “crush me,” “wreck me,” and “consume me,” saying,

If God can abuse his bride, yet tell her that it is for her good, of course a husband can do that to his. And both blame her for not trusting.

This reminded me of the popular teaching that just as the sweetest perfume comes out of crushed roses, God wants to crush us like a rose so He can make perfume like that. Continue reading

In which I have a small argument with a Puritan about suffering

Recently someone asked me to comment on Facebook on a quotation from a Puritan. I told her I found the quotation troubling enough to make a blog post out of it. Here, finally, is the promised post.

My friend said, “When I read this quote, I thought it was true and couldn’t refute it, which is why I posted it – I thought it was okay. At the same time I had doubts, and that’s why I asked you about it. It’s typical of the preaching I heard in my old church. For many years I primarily read Puritan books like this.”

So what was it? It was a paragraph from a piece called “Seven Inferences from the Great Suffering of Jesus Christ,” by Puritan Thomas Brooks. But before I offer commentary on his work, I’d like to ask you to read it without commentary. Continue reading