Quotes from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering

Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller is one of the best books I’ve read on the subject.

Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.

A note that I wrote in the book in pretty much my own words: “In our praying, we’re often trying to only eliminate suffering, instead of also asking for it to have meaningful spiritual value.”

While Christianity was able to agree with pagan writers that inordinate attachment to earthly goods can lead to unnecessary pain and grief, it also taught that the answer to this was not to love things less but to love God more than anything else. Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace.

On the cross, he went beyond even the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and a pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours. There is no greater inner agony than the loss of a love relationship. We cannot imagine, however, what it would be like to lose not just a human relationship that has lasted for some years but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. The separation would have been infinitely unbearable. And so Jesus experienced Godforsakenness itself on the cross when he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

Suffering is actually at the heart of the Christian story.

Suffering tends to make you self-absorbed. If it is seen as mainly about you and your own growth, it will strangle you truly. Instead, we must look at suffering–whatever the proximate causes–as primarily a way to get to know God better, as an opening for serving, resembling, and drawing near to him as never before.

But resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.

We question how God is running the world. Does that make sense?

Christian peace does not start with the ousting of negative thinking. If you do that, you may simply be refusing to face how bad things are. That is one way to calm yourself – by refusing to admit the facts. But it will be short lived peace! Christian peace doesn’t start that way. It is not that you stop facing the facts, but you get a living power that comes into your life and enables you to face those realities, something that lifts you up over and through them.

Regarding that last quote, see Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.

4 Responses to “Quotes from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering”


  1. 1 Thomas Provost

    Excellent quotes Jeff – Thank you.

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    You’re welcome.

  3. 3 Eric

    I second that – excellent quotes. I especially liked, “We cannot imagine, however, what it would be like to lose not just a human relationship that has lasted for some years but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. The separation would have been infinitely unbearable.” That’s insightful and powerful.

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    That and one by John Owen are the two best descriptions of what Jesus went through that I’ve ever read.
    Jeff

Leave a Reply




%d bloggers like this: