Theology of Suffering Resources

by Christine Overholt, Director of Women’s Ministry

I often marvel at God and His provision. I don’t know why I find myself so often surprised, His character is unchanging. Yet once again, I am so thankful for God preparing my heart and guiding me by His Word.

Last year I was able to lead a STEPS class on the Theology of Suffering. I sat in a room with a dear group of women and we wrestled together with a topic not easily understood, or welcomed. I also attended the Association of Christian Biblical Counselors (ACBC) Annual Conference which centered on the topic of suffering. I have found the lessons learned over the past year invaluable in dealing with today’s circumstances.

If you find yourself struggling with current world events, I invite you to be encouraged by free resources available on the ACBC Pandemic Resources page.

You will find resources that address a variety of topics including: human suffering, heaven’s hope, anxiety, worry, fear, despair, depression, conflict and more.  

Several of the posted resources are from the conference I attended. Let me highlight a few:

Toward a God-Centered Theology of Suffering by Paul Tautges

In this lecture he covers some common temptations when encountering suffering and provides a framework in which suffering should be viewed. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

“Theology must begin with doxology. When theology doesn’t begin with doxology, that is, the supreme exaltation of God, it eventually ends up diminishing the glory of God by exalting the wisdom of man. Therefore, any attempt to formulate a theology of suffering must begin and end with God.” Romans 11:36

“There is something that grows in our relationship with God in the midst of suffering that cannot grow any other way. There is an intimacy with the Savior that doesn’t happen without suffering.”

 Finding God’s Grace in Seasons of Suffering by Brad and Vicki Bigney

In this lecture, the Bigney’s outline the following points when encountering seasons of suffering:

  1. You will find out how much you need God’s Word.
  2. You will wrestle with who God is.
  3. You will find your false refuges stripped away.
  4. You will be forced to relinquish control.
  5. You will need to believe that God is working on a bigger story.
  6. (if married) Your marriage will be tested and stretched for God’s glory.
  7. You will be tempted to pull away and isolate.

Abounding in Hope by Stephen Yuille

While this lecture is listed under the heading of “Suicide,” it is applicable to anyone in need of hope. Dr. Yuille presented these truths from the book of Romans:

  1. Hope is fueled by the conviction that God is able to do what He has promised.
  2. Hope is rooted in the assurance that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
  3. Hope is fixed on the glory that will be revealed to us.
  4. Hope is cultivated through the encouragement of the Scriptures.
  5. Hope abounds by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes and one I have found so very helpful:

“We tend to measure God’s love by our circumstances… The measure of God’s love is not our circumstances but the cross; embrace Christ as your greatest treasure.”

If you find yourself with extra time during this pandemic, you may want to take advantage of the free online course, “Trials and Suffering.” This course contains 6 lectures including the three I have already mentioned.

Love to read? In addition to the Bible, here are books I found helpful when studying the topic of suffering:

– How Long O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil by D. A. Carson

– Between Pain & Grace: A Biblical Theology of Suffering by Gerald W. Peterman

– Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller

– Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul Tripp

– Dark Clouds Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament by Mark Vroegop

– How Could a Loving God? by Ken Ham

– A Path through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot

– Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot

– When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada

REMEMBER, your staff is still here for you! If you would like to talk with a staff member, we can schedule a phone or video meeting. We have created a new tab on our CHURCH AT HOME page titled, SPEAK WITH A STAFF MEMBER. We realize that now more than ever, you may have questions or need encouraged in your faith. Just fill out the form, indicate what you would like to discuss and the best way/time to reach you and a staff member will get back to you. Please note: requests submitted during normal office hours may experience a quicker response time. You can also schedule by calling the church office M-F, 9am – 4pm.

I believe we all have a few questions generated by this pandemic. As ACBC states on the pandemic page, “God’s Word is not silent on any of these issues. God’s Word reveals to us His powerful truth to confront even the most difficult circumstances we face on this earth.” Before we attempt an answer through our own reasoning, let’s start with the amazing provision of God’s Word.

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