Suffering & God’s Sovereignty

Aug 17, 2016

Without a doubt, suffering is inescapable. In the Bible, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). It doesn’t take many years to discover his words were, in fact, true.

However, when hit with unexpected, inexplicable suffering, the struggle to make sense of it is enormous. The vast majority of the time it doesn’t make sense.  It appears random, cold, and ruthless. As a result, we feel victims of chance, and often turn bitter, cynical, withdrawn.

If you’ve ever wrestled with doubt, questioned God’s reality or goodness, and wondered if this oft-hard life has any true meaning at all whatsoever, you’re in good company here. My faith has taken a beating more than once over the course of my life, and at times I wondered if it would stand. You will find no judgment or shame from my tiny little corner of the world.

But I hope you do find companionship and a friend who understands, at least a little bit.

A few months ago, I sat down with Colleen Swindoll-Thompson of Insight for Living’s “Reframing Ministries.” This is perhaps the most comprehensive interview I’ve given regarding my health journey and the faith struggle that resulted. Her purpose? To have an honest and unafraid conversation about some of the tensions that arise when people of faith encounter impossible circumstances. A few of the questions she pointed to me included:

  • How have you struggled to accept what God has allowed to happen to you?
  • How has God revealed Himself to you through this journey?
  • Why is faith in Jesus Christ essential when we encounter trials?
  • How does Scripture define comfort, and how does the Bible’s definition differ from how we usually think about it?
  • How has your cancer journey given you a new perspective on God’s grace?
  • How did people help you when you were recovering from treatment?
  • While you were recovering from treatment, what things did people do that wasn’t helpful for you?
  • How has your cancer journey changed your prayer life?
  • How has God used your cancer to bring about positive changes in you?
  • What encouragement can you give someone who is going through a difficult trial?

If one or more of these questions resonate with you, I think you’ll find a safe haven of conversation in the video below. And, if we didn’t cover a question you have, don’t be afraid to post it in the comments. I won’t have all the answers, but it’d be my honor to sit with you in the not-knowing.

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Undone, by Michele Cushatt

 

Where have you struggled to reconcile your faith as a result of unexplainable circumstances? 

9 Comments

  1. Wayne Stiles

    This truly was a fabulous interview, Michele. Thanks so much for blessing us with the comfort you have received from struggling and trusting our sovereign God.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Thanks, Wayne. Always a privilege to spend a little time with Colleen and IFL. Appreciate you all.

      Reply
  2. JenM

    Yes and amen! Michele the Lord saw fit to take my husband home a year ago at age 47 after a short battle with cancer. So much of what you shared in this interview are the same truths that the Holy Spirit has also taught me during his illness and in this season afterward.

    It’s so easy to say “God is good all the time” when life is good. But even when life hurts… when the bottom drops out… God is no less good. It’s the time for his faithfulness to be proven and his glory to shine even brighter. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

    I loved what you shared about scripture’s definition of comfort and I hold to 2 Corinthians. To comfort – strengthen others in their faith as a result of God’s comfort and strength to us – that’s my desire. I’ve told Him, “just don’t waste this. Use it all.” And I see you inviting Him to do the same. God bless you.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      The wisdom you display no doubt came, in part, from your losses. Thanks for sharing, Jen.

      Reply
  3. Eric Oleson

    Michele, your honesty and courage continue to inspire. Thank you so much for putting it out there for all of us!

    Reply
  4. Shana Morell Stadler

    This is very good and deep theologically. Practically, suffering is essential and going to happen at some point in our lives. No matter how positive we are, no matter how great our attitudes, but we have to find the lesson in it – in order to go on. My husband died of cancer and was sick for many years. There was a time right before he passed when I honestly thought I couldn’t do it anymore. He wasn’t the same person and he was so angry he was sick. He was a Christian but he was crushed to leave me and his children. Thanks for sharing this with me.

    Reply
  5. Bruce Brodeen

    (I posted this on YouTube – re-posting here, as well) One of the most powerful, moving and HELPFUL podcasts I have ever listened to. Loved Michele’s book “Undone” but this interview really covers some deep, practical and terrible helpful perspective for this ‘recovering idealist’ and ex-Theology major who has struggled mightily with the questions Michele discusses in depth here.

    I can’t thank you both enough for the distinctions and powerfully REAL and HONEST sharing. Beyond refreshing. I will re-listen often and, most importantly, share. That this has 995 views at the time I type this…well, all who listen here and are empowered and helped, let’s change that.

    Reply
  6. Lauren Gaskill

    Oh, how I needed this today, dear sister. Just had a pretty sobering meeting with my jaw surgeon on Friday, and struggling a little bit this weekend. Thanks for the encouragement, as always. Love and hugs to you!!

    Reply

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