Is there hope for those whose lives contain such suffering they dare not even hope for circumstantial relief? Author Sean Nolan delivers To Those Who Suffer: Understanding God’s Purpose and Pathway Through Pain and offers hope and comfort for readers who have lost someone to death, live with injury or illness that is incurable, or live every day in chronic pain.
Nolan, who lives with chronic pain and suffering himself, tackles one of the thorniest stumbling blocks of the Christian faith–suffering–with tender candor and a breadth of biblical truth. Packed with scripture passages and applications, To Those Who Suffer takes readers to a deeper understanding of God’s love and its partnership with suffering, the reason Christians endure pain, living in contentment and joy amidst suffering, and holding on to hope.
In To Those Who Suffer, Nolan explains that when we suffer, we often view the situation through the human sin-stained perspective. This results in us immediately coming to the conclusion that this situation is extremely painful and, therefore, it must be wrong and not part of God’s will for our lives. However, from God’s perspective, He has allowed this suffering in our lives for a purpose, and, because God is absolutely good, His purpose for allowing the suffering in our lives must be a good one.
What we often overlook is that God’s goal for our lives is very different from ours. Nolan states that it is imperative that we understand God’s purpose for allowing mankind to encounter suffering. If we do not understand that God has done the right thing through allowing suffering into the world and our lives then we cannot expect to understand why God chooses to use suffering to conform us into the image of His Son, as opposed to a more pleasant method. Nolan explains, “If suffering were a tree, its fruit would be unique and extremely rare. The reason why the Lord uses the painful process of suffering to sanctify us (conform us into the image of His Son) is that suffering produces unique and extremely rare fruit that cannot be grown or cultivated by any other means.”
“For most of us, we hold out hope that someday the Lord will come through for us by alleviating our situations of suffering. There are people that do not have that luxury,” writes Nolan. “They are the ones that ‘fall between the cracks’ of the conventional Christian teaching on suffering, that being: that one day the Lord will help us by alleviating the problems of our lives that are the source of our pain. These people are not able to hold out hope that the Lord will alleviate their circumstances, because their circumstances are not transformable within the rules of life that the Lord has set up. The Lord will not reasonably reattach the legs of a person who has had both of his legs amputated; God will not bring a woman’s husband of fifty years back from the dead. So does this mean that these people have no hope? The answer to this question is no; there is a solution to suffering that does not depend on the transformation or relief of our circumstances.”
As one who intimately understands this depth of suffering, Nolan writes with humble wisdom and applicable truths. Complete with chapter summaries that offer bullet-pointed take-aways, readers will find To Those Who Suffer to be practical and transformative.