How Firm a FoundationHow firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!What more can He say than to you He has said,to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;for I am your God, and will still give you aid;I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand."When through the deep waters I call you to go,the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,and sanctify to you your deepest distress."When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,My grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;the flame shall not hurt you; I only designyour dross to consume and your gold to refine."E'en down to old age all my people shall proveMy sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne."The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,I will not, I will not desert to his foes;that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,I'll never, no never, no never forsake."
I have been reading "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God", edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. You can read it online. Most of the chapters in the book originated as talks given at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference, and they address such questions as: In what ways is God sovereign over Satan's work? How can we be free and responsible if God ordains our choices? What is the ultimate reason for suffering? How does suffering advance the mission of the church? How does God's grace enter our sufferings? What about hope when things look hopeless?
One of the chapters, written by David Powlison, addresses God's Grace and Your Sufferings. Go there. Read it. It's well worth the time it will take you to do so.
We all suffer in many ways, some more than others. We all suffer in different ways. Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was mocked by his wife and rebuked by his friends. Paul was shipwrecked and imprisoned, and had to live with the knowledge that he had been responsible for the pain and suffering and death of many of his Christian brothers and sisters. Mary suffered as she watched her Son die on that dreadful cross. Down through the ages, saints have gone through incredible pain, rejection, loss, even torture. And God has been sovereign over every moment.
This past weekend really should have been a time of great reflection and joyful thanksgiving. It's always sobering to remember that Jesus Christ had to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the price for my sin. I am so very thankful that God found a way to redeem my soul. It really is my preference to spend some time on Good Friday meditating on the necessity of the cross.
It turned out that most of our family came over for a good part of the day. We had a great time visiting and going for a nature walk. We enjoyed fellowship and food, then gathered around the campfire as the sun was going down.
Sadly, things were said that ought not to have been said - at least not in the manner in which they were expressed. Feelings were hurt. There were misunderstandings, most of which have been cleared up by now. We are a Christian family, and we're all quite articulate and quick to speak. Sometimes, we aren't careful about the way we express our thoughts. Sometimes, we sin against one another.
In explaining the suffering that God allowed us to experience, I said the following to my daughter: