When others’ words kindle my own flame: Reflections on words by @JohnPiper.
“WARNING Graphic. Don’t talk about the sovereignty of God in suffering without this reality in your mind. http://ow.ly/wGWv” (John Piper on Twitter)
I realize the title of this post may actually make you want to read this, so I am in a sense being disingenuous by drawing you in by this method. But if you’re anything like me, you may be sick to your stomach at the end of what you read, so know you have been warned.
We are in the middle of shooting videos to support chapter downloads of Crave (beginning next week), and one of the chapters we shot this weekend was called “Suffering.” It’s an exploration of how God uses suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them; specifically it focuses on what Paul means in calling suffering a gift (see Phil 1:29). It asks us to go to war with our understanding of good, knowing God works together all things for our good, including suffering.
I mean to treat the subject boldly, to engage an issue that seems uncomfortable and bring hard, Biblical truth to bear on the matter. But I now realize I treat the subject dismissively, writing from the whitest of ivory towers with not so much as a tear to shed in the global experience of suffering.
I realize this because of John Piper’s Tweet; more specifically, because of the picture to which he links. He prefaces the picture with a warning and is right to do so. I echo that warning. I don’t do well with graphic pictures, but the topic caught my eye and I took a look. And I’m sorry and glad I did.
This picture changes things for me. I hope and pray it doesn’t change my theology. I hope it changes the way I think about my theology, or rather, the way I think about this God I serve. A God who works all things together for good, including the suffering I’ve experience in being laughed at for being a Christian, is a different God who works all things together for good, to include the suffering of a girl who has half her faced burned off. I guess He’s not actually a different God; it’s my understanding of this God that’s different.
God is sovereign and good. There’s a danger to believing in this kind of God when you live in a place like Afghanistan where suffering is a way of life. But there’s perhaps more of a danger to believing in this kind of God when you live in a place where comfort is a way of life. May God grant us grace to grow in our understanding of Him, and may His kind of mercy blow the doors off the kind of grace we think we might want.
Original Blog Posting: http://twitter.com/JohnPiper/status/5184187095
Note: A follow-up Tweet by @JohnPiper stated: “Many have asked where the WARNING picture I posted came from. Here: http://ow.ly/wIDe. She was burned in a helicopter attack.”