Wednesday, April 22, 2020

36. When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent

When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent: Finding Hope in the Psalms. J. Ligon Duncan. Foreword by Mark Dever. 2020. Crossway. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy] [christian nonfiction; christian living]

First sentence: In 1895 Andrew Murray was staying as a guest in a home while traveling for preaching. One morning, he lay in bed because his back, injured a few years prior, was causing him severe pain. When his hostess brought him breakfast, she told him that a troubled woman had come to the house asking for his counsel. Murray handed her a piece of paper and said, “Just give her this advice I’m writing down for myself; it may be that she’ll find it helpful.” This is what was written: In time of trouble say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows.” Therefore say, “I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”

When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent is a LOVELY, LOVELY gem of a book. Just the right length for those who actually actually feel that pain is REAL and God is SILENT. It is a collection of two expository sermons on Psalms 88 and 89. Psalm 88 is about individual suffering. Psalm 89 is about corporate suffering.

The book guides you through each verse of each of the two psalms. It's sprinkled with a few quotes from theologians as well. But at the front and center of this one is Scripture itself. What can we learn about God, about ourselves, about our experiences from reading Scripture. The book is packed with insight.

I loved reading this one. I read it in one sitting.


Friend, your life may be filled with far more suffering than my own, but Scripture teaches that your troubles don’t belong to you alone. God placed psalms of lament, like this one, in Scripture so that we could all learn how to cry to the Lord in our sadness and grief together. Psalms like this one teach us to share in one another’s suffering and to bear one another’s burdens.
Many times in the Christian life, God answers our cries “Why, O Lord?” not by explaining his providence but by giving us a deeper understanding of his person. In other words, when we cry, “Lord, why are you doing this?” he often answers by saying, “Let me show you who I am.” And if you see him, he will be enough.
Take comfort from the fact that the sufferings of this life are the worst you will ever endure. If you know Christ and have come to him in faith and repentance, then your suffering has an end. The trials of this life are the worst things you will ever endure. But friend, if you don’t know Christ, then you are alone in your suffering. You are in a far, far worse place than this psalmist. The hopelessness experienced by this psalmist was only apparent and temporary. But those who die without repenting of their sin will know true hopelessness, that which is real and eternal. Hell has no light at the end of the tunnel. If you do not know Christ, then let your sufferings show you your need for a Savior. If you are already a Christian, then let your own suffering remind you that you are an undeserving, hell-bound sinner saved by God’s mercy. Let that thought drive you to share the gospel with those around you so that they, too, might be saved from never-ending hopelessness.
God’s people know profound pain, but no circumstance can make God one bit less worthy of our praise. God is worthy of our worship simply because of who he is. Our worship is ultimately rooted in his character, not our circumstances.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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