Guest / Limited Access /
How We Hide Our Suffering
How We Hide Our Suffering

We have said that suffering is inevitable, that it is universal. I'd like to go one step further and say that everyone is suffering in some way, today. I know I am. Perhaps your situation is dire. A death in the family, a painful heartbreak, the loss of a job, a wayward teenager. But perhaps your situation is relatively innocuous: a harshly worded email, a few extra pounds on the scale that won't seem to go away, an unexpected car maintenance bill. All of this is suffering, and all of it is proof that the world is not as it should be! …

[But there are barriers to grappling with this honestly.] First, we project a hierarchy of suffering on to God. Someone recently forwarded me a particularly vivid example of this method of denial: "If anyone is having a bad day, remember that in 1976 Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake in Apple for $800. Now it's worth $58,065,210,000." Translated into spiritual terms you might say, I'm having a bad day, but at least I don't have pancreatic cancer. God has too much on his plate for me to bother him with my petty concerns. He clearly cares more about starving children than he does about my seasonal depression. There may be something noble about keeping things in proper perspective, but soon we are dictating to God what he should or shouldn't care about …. Eventually we find ourselves editing our prayers along these lines, as though we were giving a political speech, rather than speaking with our heavenly Father. If the only things that qualify as suffering in your life are natural disasters or global warfare, you will soon find yourself plastering a smile on your face and nodding over-enthusiastically whenever someone asks you how you are doing. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueThe Yes and No of Healing
Subscriber Access Only The Yes and No of Healing
What are we to make of people who experience inner healing and then revert to their old ways?
RecommendedA Stroke Freed Me to Redefine Beauty
A Stroke Freed Me to Redefine Beauty
Former model Katherine Wolf reveals how a nearly fatal experience altered her faith.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
%%var.bookTitle%%
Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free
David C. Cook
2012-10-01
208 pp., $17.99
Buy %%var.bookTitle%% from Amazon
Christianity Today
How We Hide Our Suffering
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.