Prepare Now for Your Pain

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This resource is published by Gospel Translations, an online ministry that exists to make gospel-centered books and articles available for free in every nation and language.

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Suffering has a way of pressing us to go deeper with God.

It’s sadly not the case for all, but many have testified that their embrace of God’s sovereignty and goodness was catalyzed during a season of profound suffering.

Sometimes it’s fresh truths about God intersecting with our lives in the hardest of times. But often suffering becomes a testing ground for what truths we’ve already built into our lives in the easiest of days. Such was my experience.

Wrestling with Hard Truths

It took me several years of “normal life” to believe that such truths — like God’s sovereignty, predestination, and election — should be called “truths” at all. I wasn’t sure they were biblical. I wondered, if God desires all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), then how can he be in control of who is saved and who isn’t? And if God can change his mind (Exodus 32:14; Jeremiah 26:19), then how can he truly be in control of all things?

These are tough questions to wrestle with. But over time, with help from the writings of men like James Montgomery Boice, R.C. Sproul, and John Piper, I came to gladly embrace, as faithful to the Scriptures, the doctrines of grace and the absolute and exhaustive sovereignty of God. These men and others were willing to ask the hard questions I was asking, and they gave compelling answers from the Bible.

As I began embracing such truths, God became bigger and greater in my eyes. We Christians worship a God

And as I began discovering more about the power and the glory of God, and realized that it was inevitable that I would someday, sooner than later, suffer some kind of affliction in this fallen world (1 Thessalonians 3:3–4; Acts 14:22), I knew I needed to prepare for suffering — so that God’s bigness would not merely be some doctrine that I believed with my mind, but one that would sustain me through life’s pain.

Getting Ready for Hardship

With such preparation in mind, I set myself in 2006 to read the book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. In it, I read life-changing truths like these:

The authors quoted Bible text after Bible text. I couldn’t escape God’s complete sovereignty — and I didn’t want to!

When Tragedy Strikes

The following year, in December of 2007, tragedy struck when my Dad died suddenly at the young age of 44. To this day, the single most terrible memory I have is of my Mom calling me at two in the morning, crying, “They’re losing him, Bryan! They’re losing him!” Not long after, my uncle called to let me know that he died.

What then do you make of God’s sovereignty? Was it tempting to become bitter and angry at God? Perhaps, but only slightly. No, the main comfort for me since Dad’s death has been that God works all things — including that death — according to the counsel of his will, that he does all that he pleases, that he knows all things, including that death, before it happened.

Both Sovereign and Good

But the book also taught me about God’s goodness, not just his sovereignty. Picture heaven with me, in the words of Joni Eareckson Tada:

I think at first the shock of the joy that will come from reveling in the waterfall of love and pleasure that is the Trinity may burn with a brilliant newness of being glorified, but in the next instant we will be at peace. We will be drenched with delight. We will feel at home as though it were always this way, as though we were born for such a place — because we were! (202–203)

And so, I commend to you, if these are your easy times before some coming trial, prepare now for the pain. This book — available free of charge in PDF (in English) — is one way to start. Learn now that your suffering is not even worth comparing to the glory that will one day be yours (Romans 8:18), and that the suffering indeed produces or works or prepares the weight of glory that you will experience in God’s presence (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Begin preparing now, in the “normal days,” knowing that some portion of suffering is coming, and God has made available the resources to get you ready.

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