Suffering, by Paul David Tripp, was the last book I read in 2018, and rightly so. If you read my yearly recap, you know suffering summed up my year.
Sometimes it made me bitter. Finally, it made me hopeful—not for my circumstances to get better and easier but hopeful in my God who is with me always and who is always good.
This book showed me why I responded to my suffering the way I did.
My response caught me off guard. The thoughts I thought were beyond what a Christian should think. The despair I felt didn’t make sense as someone who understood the gospel. And the ability to dwell on hope instead of my seemingly hopeless circumstances seemed impossible at times.
My suffering wrecked me in many ways. Most of all, it revealed the sin in my heart. It didn’t produce new sin. It made it come to the surface. And boy was that hard to see!
Tripp, who underwent unexpected kidney failure and continues to suffer from his health, helped me understand this. He says, “Your responses to the situations in your life, whether physical, relational, or circumstancial, are always more determined by what is inside you (your heart) than by the things you are facing. This is why people have dramatically different responses to the same situations of difficulty” (Loc 345, kindle).
He continues, “Suffering draws out the true thoughts, attitudes, assumptions, and desires of your heart.” Then he mentions why we fear or envy or doubt or live in hyper-awareness, discouragement, or denial when we suffer.
He helps us understand why what we are going through feels especially hard, but he also pushes us to refocus our foggy minds towards the clear truth of the Word.
He doesn’t leave us where we’re tempted to stay in this analytical state of why we thought this or why we did that—what was sin and what was not. He moves us from our personal examination to our true hope in the God of comfort.
Sure, I wish I could’ve read this book before my season of suffering began, but it hadn’t been published yet. However, I probably would’ve needed to re-read it as a reminder, and a new season of suffering will come again where it will prove helpful.
What about you? Are you in a season of suffering and wonder why you’re responding the way you are? Are you trying to put your hope in God but still feel hopeless?
This book will make you feel like you’re not alone, and it will speak the truth that you struggle to speak to yourself.
And if you haven’t suffered yet, you will. So, you might as well get prepared. Fix your hope on the God of all comfort.