I took a few moments to read a bit more in Ajith Fernando’s Call to Joy & Pain. There is so much rich content packed into small chapters.
On suffering…when we don’t have a right theology of suffering, we can stunt our growth as a body of believers, we may find it difficult to accept suffering as an opportunity for God’s good work to shine through, and we are sometimes tempted to skirt a challenging calling.
During painful times, we may find ourselves stripped of our own glory. This hurts! But, it does present us with the choice to seek Him and His purposes.
We don’t live in a culture that openly and adequately addresses the prospects of suffering shame at various points in our Christian walk in order to remain faithful. I would add that it can be particularly uncomfortable to experience that shame in the context of the church body even when it ultimately proves that you prioritize Him over other good things.
A few redemptive thoughts from Fernando: in the midst of this shame, we can trust that true honor is from God and will come in His timing. When we learn to believe Him for this, it frees us up to step away from the bitterness of comparing our circumstances with those who appear prosperous and it urges us on to keep investing in kingdom work.