It is God's law that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God." (Reynolds Price, quoted by Tim Keller in his essay, "Suffering: The Servant of our Joy.")
At fifteen I suffered the raw pain of rejection. The loss of a relationship that I thought would never end; I was fifteen. And it was, indeed, awful. My adolescent pain embarrassingly out there for all the world to see. And I didn't want anyone telling me about God's sovereignty and goodness. I just wanted to wallow in the pain, own it.
But even then, at all of fifteen years, God was working out his will in my life. Wasn't he? And he gathered up those tears in his bottle.
And somewhere, somehow, in the midst of my pain, I picked up a book, Hinds Feet on High Places, and I began to see that we can count it a privilege to share in the suffering of Christ. God, in his awful grace, was giving me bits of wisdom.
Last night, almost 15 years later, I said to God about my most recent loss--I don't want it. I don't want the wisdom or the privilege or any of it. I just want to run from it. And his awful grace comes again, in the words of someone much wiser than me.
Isn't he always working out his will? Always.
And this is why I hate the health and wealth gospel. Because it's not the gospel at all. The gospel is death. But it doesn't end there.
It's also Redemption.
Paul says that if Jesus can uncomplainingly submit to his infinite suffering and thereby have God's life explode into our lives and into the world, then you and I can submit to our finite suffering uncomplainingly and know the same thing will happen. The death in us will work life in us and others around us. That's our hope. (Keller, "The Servant of our Joy", Be Still My Soul, 20)
p.s. there's no news about our situation. No new information made me feel the loss more last night; it was just a hard day. I know some of you might be wondering if we heard something, but we haven't. We're in waiting mode right now.