Suffering and Escape

The August 10th entry in Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost For His Highest is a commentary on 1 Peter 4:19, a difficult verse to read, understand, and live: “Let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good…”

Chambers says, “Choosing to suffer means that there must be something wrong with you, but choosing God’s will—even if it means you will suffer—is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God’s will, just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not… (Jesus) refused the sympathy of people because in His great wisdom He knew that no one on earth understood His purpose… Look at God’s incredible waste of His saints, according to the world’s judgment. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places… Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use.”

This kind of thinking has no place in much of the literature I read these days. It is considered too austere, too morbid, too depressing. It is treated like the yeast of old that had to be completely abolished from the household, lest the smallest amount leaven the whole lump of dough. If we allow even the slightest degree of this theology to enter into our thinking, everything changes! Everything has to readjust. Everything must be questioned.

We can no longer entertain ideas and theologies that don’t make room for God’s freedom. We can no longer flirt with triumphalistic notions of faith. They are just escapisms in religious garments.

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  • Brian Metzger

    A newspaper in St. Louis used to have, as their motto, “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Pretty sure they’ve stopped using that. Our society has clearly embraced a ‘take a pill’ way of life that sees comfort and lack of trouble or pain as the best life. That not only ignores that almost everything great has come at a terrible price for someone but it also tells those who experience suffering to keep quiet because only the abnormal suffer and the rest of us really don’t want to hear about it.

    Sadly, I think this has come so far into the Church and our theology that it has crippled us beyond the community Jesus imagined we would be. Crippled by our wellness.

    Time to readjust.