BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part 1 in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on loss, grief, suffering, and Christ’s healing hope. In today’s post, Bob Kellemen shares the “big picture truth that in Christ There Is Hope. In this series, you will also read posts by Pat Quinn on infertility, Paul Tautges on Cancer, and Adam Embry on sexual abuse.
Losses and Crosses
Jesus promises that life will be filled with losses.
I know. That’s not exactly the promise you were hoping for. At least it’s honest.
In John 16:33, Jesus guarantees that we will suffer.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.”
One word says it all: trouble. “You’re gonna’ get squashed!” is a fair paraphrase. Hemmed in, harassed, and distressed. Oppressed, vexed, and afflicted.
Trouble communicates both external and internal suffering. External suffering: illness, poverty, criticism, abandonment, and death. Internal suffering: fear, anxiety, anguish, depression, and grief.
In this life, we all suffer. Life is filled with losses.
God’s Healing Hope: Creative Suffering
Of course, if all we do is talk about life’s losses, then that too fails to tell the whole story. We need to be able to deal with life’s losses in the context of God’s healing.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Peace. With one word Jesus quiets the quest of our soul. We thirst for peace—shalom, wholeness, stillness, rest, healing.
Take heart. Hope. Come alive again.
That’s what you long for. I know it is, because it’s what I want.
We live in a fallen world and it often falls on us. When it does, when the weight of the world crushes us, squeezes the life out of us, we need hope. New life. A resuscitated heart. A resurrected life.
Brilliantly, the apostle Paul deals simultaneously with grieving and hoping. Do not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Paul, who offers people the Scriptures and his own soul (1 Thessalonians 2:8), skillfully ministers to sufferers.
To blend losses and healing, grieving and hoping, requires creative suffering. FrankLake powerfully depicts the process.
“There is no human experience which cannot be put on the anvil of a lively relationship with God and man, and battered into a meaningful shape.”
Notice what the anvil is—a lively relationship with God and God’s people. Notice the process—battering. Notice the result—meaning, purpose. What cannot be removed, God makes creatively bearable.
Another individual, this one intimately acquainted with grief, also pictures creative suffering. British hostage, Terry Waite, spent 1,460 days in solitary confinement in his prison cell in Beirut. Reflecting on his savage mistreatment and his constant struggle to maintain his faith, he reveals:
I have been determined in captivity, and still am determined, to convert this experience into something that will be useful and good for other people. I think that’s the way to approach suffering. It seems to me that Christianity doesn’t in any way lessen suffering. What it does is enable you to take it, to face it, to work through it and eventually convert it.
Creative suffering doesn’t simply accept suffering; through the Cross it creatively converts it. Our passion in God’s Healing for Life’s Losses is to learn together how to grieve but not as those who have no hope.
For numerous free resources on grief and Christ’s healing hope, you can visit the RPM Ministries God’s Healing page.
Join the Conversation
How have you experienced God’s healing hope in Christ?