What follows is another bounty from Paul Tripp’s wonderful book, Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense. I’ve recently finished this book and I can’t express enough how much I’ve benefited from it. Each page is dripping with heartfelt compassion for those enduring life’s severest turmoil. Tripp’s recent personal experience with suffering inspires these pages, as he reflects not only on his own encounters with physical, emotional, and spiritual upheaval but also on the condescending grace and truth of Christ which meets sufferers in the midst of the suffering. The following excerpt constitutes the opening paragraphs of the closing chapter, aptly titled, “The Comfort of a Heart at Rest.” May your heart be made to rest in the boundless comfort God’s Son and Spirit offer in life’s darkest moments.
Suffering is the intersection where life’s deepest pains meet with the most wonderful blessings of grace. It’s the ground where mournful cries echo alongside heartfelt praise. It’s the place where God seems absent and his presence is most clearly seen. It’s the location of deep aloneness mixing with awareness of glorious love. It’s the place of raging spiritual war and miraculous peace. Suffering is where weakness intersects with strength, confusion intersects with wisdom, sorrow intersects with joy, and despair intersects with hope.
Suffering has a unique ability to expose inadequacies in all the places we tend to look for life, hope, identity, joy, peace, motivation, and our reason to continue. If you’re looking horizontally for what can only be found vertically, suffering will pick your pockets and leave you empty. Suffering shocks you into admitting that no human being can give you life. It forces you to acknowledge that your job can’t give you identity. It shakes you into the realization that your physical body isn’t the center of your true strength. It requires you to acknowledge that rest of heart isn’t found in financial stability. It confronts you with the fact that personal peace doesn’t come from what people think of you.
Suffering slaughters all our subtle God replacements . . . It’s right then, in the darkness of our aloneness, loss, and fear, that the light of the gospel of God’s presence and grace shines most brightly. It’s one of the most profound paradoxes of life, that out of the darkest travail glorious beauty shines.1
Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
Paul Tripp, Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 203–4.