Jerry Bridges explores the issue of suffering in this month's free audiobook from ChristianAudio.com, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, and I recommend it. Bridges says there are three truths about God that we must keep in mind throughout our times of suffering:
In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God—truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:
- God is completely sovereign.
- God is infinite in wisdom.
- God is perfect in love.
Someone has expressed these three truths as they relate to us in this way: "God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about."
The rest of the book follows that outline, looking to the Bible to expand on each of these points, exploring how they all fit together, and addressing objections and misconceptions. Here are some excerpts:
God Is Sovereign
God never pursues His glory at the expense of the good of His people, nor does He ever seek our good at the expense of His glory. He has designed His eternal purpose so that His glory and our good are inextricably bound together….
But that which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God's eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good….
We do not know why God allowed the enemies of His people to prevail at one time and restrained them at another. It is enough to know that God can and does restrain the harmful acts of others toward us when that is His sovereign will. Furthermore, God, in His infinite wisdom and love, intends that good ultimately comes from those harmful acts….
God judges people for the very sins that He uses to carry out His purpose. This truth is taught in such passages as Isaiah 10:5-16….
Daniel realized that God's sovereignty and God's promise were intended to stimulate him to pray. Because God is sovereign, He is able to answer. Because He is faithful to His promises, He will answer…. [T]he knowledge of His sovereignty is meant to be an encouragement to pray, not an excuse to lapse into a sort of pious fatalism.
God Is Wise
God knows exactly what He intends we become and He knows exactly what circumstances, both good and bad, are necessary to produce that result in our lives….
He knows infallibly with infinite wisdom what combination of good and bad circumstances will bring us more and more into sharing His holiness. He never puts too much of the "salt" of adversity into the recipe of our lives. His blending of adversity and blessing is always exactly right for us.
God Is Loving
"God's sovereignty is always to his people in wisdom and in love. This is the difference between sovereignty in God and sovereignty in man. We dread the sovereignty of man, because we have no security of its being exercised in mercy, or even justice: we rejoice in the sovereignty of God, because we are sure it is always exercised for the good of his people." –Alexander Carson
If we are going to trust God's love, we must store up in our hearts these great truths we have looked at in this chapter God's love at Calvary, our union with Christ, and the sovereignty of God's love exercised on our behalf.
Trusting God through our suffering is not easy because we can't yet see the full picture of what God is doing, and He may be very difficult for us to see at all. So it's at these very emotional times that we need to lean heavily on what the Bible reveals to us about who God is, and pray for the ability from God to depend on Him and trust without bitterness. As Bridges says through this quote by Margaret Clarkson, "[W]e set ourselves to believe in the overruling goodness, providence, and sovereignty of God and refuse to turn aside no matter what may come, no matter how we feel."
Download the free audiobook.