Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Finding purpose in pain
Part 2 of an interview with Sherri Burgess,
Author of Bronner: A Journey to Understand
If God is good, then why does He allow terrible things to happen? It’s a universal question asked by believers and skeptics alike. Some decide no answer exists, but not Sherri Burgess, the author of Bronner: A Journey to Understand (New Hope Publishers/January 19, 2016/ISBN: 978-1-62591-500-9/$16.99). When Burgess and her husband, Rick (host of the nationally syndicated “The Rick and Bubba Show”), lost their two-year-old son in a tragic drowning at home, she turned to God with the same question and in her grief learned there are answers. What she discovered about the Lord and herself she now brings to the world in this special book.
Q: Why did you decide to write this book and share your journey?
It wasn’t really a decision at all. It was a calling. I felt strongly compelled by God to write this book. God answered me, but He didn’t answer me so I would keep those answers to myself. God has message for all of us in this.
Q: The writing process took five years. What challenges did you face in trying to put your story into words?
I wanted to write the answers I was hearing from God: what I found about pain and suffering in the Bible and all the lessons learned along the way. The writing process took a long time because grief is a long business, and it takes time to sort these things out. But this isn’t a book about grief or the grieving process. In truth, it’s really not even about Bronner. It’s about God. God doesn’t do these things to hurt us. Scripture tells us we are refined in the furnace of affliction and that sorrow is better than laughter because it scours the heart. It specifically tells us it’s better to go to a funeral than to a party because you might learn something at a funeral. You’re not likely to at a party. Suffering melts away the dross of worldliness, pride and self-reliance and makes us reach for something greater than ourselves. It teaches us the only hope any of us really has is God. There is so much more I could tell you about the why behind pain and suffering. It would literally take an entire book to tell the tale. But I can say this: God is good, He loves us, and the pain we have to endure in this life is nothing He wasn’t willing to endure Himself. Jesus suffered in this life, and if we want to belong to Him, we’ll suffer too.
Q: What was the most unexpected thing to you about the grieving process?
Love. The love of many people wrapped around me like never before. People are amazing, how they rush to the side of the hurting, how much love and care we all have for one another in times of trial. We’re always so busy running to and fro, but when things like the death of a child happen, time stops, people stop, the earth seems to stop turning, and life slows down to a snail’s pace. That’s when we find we actually do have time for one another, and when we spend time together we find a deep and immense love one for one another.
Q: What has this experience taught you about the difference between your plans for your children versus what God has planned for them?
I’ve learned God has created each person uniquely and perfectly according to His will; each of us has something of God’s character, beauty and perfection implanted in us. I have learned to treasure the unique qualities not only in each of my children, but in everyone. God has a plan and purpose for us all, and His plans are good. Even the painful ones are good because they grow us, teach us and mold us into the good character of God we were created for all along. It’s the sin in us that corrupts our character. God wants to root out the sin in our lives. Much of what I had planned for my kids was worldly, but now I desire nothing more than the Spirit of God, to reign and rule in my children’s hearts because God is good and His glory everlasting. God is creating in us a desire for a new world where sin, death, disease, poverty and war don’t exist. I want that for my kids, and that is all that matters to me: that they will all be with me in eternity.
Q: Do you find your thoughts about Heaven have changed since Bronner went there?
What has changed is that I think about it at all. We don’t think much about Heaven until we have someone there we love with every fiber of our being. But now that Bronner’s there, I think about it all the time. I wonder what he’s doing, whom he’s talking to, what it must feel like to look upon the face of God. I wonder about the angels and all the other people who are there, people such as Abraham Lincoln, Queen Esther, Noah and George Washington. There are cool people to meet in Heaven. It makes me so excited to go there, especially knowing Bronner’s there. At first I wanted to go to Heaven simply because I wanted Bronner, but over time I realized the best part about being in Heaven is God. Jesus is our treasure awaiting us in Heaven. He’s our inheritance, our prize, our very life. Everything else is extra, and there are going to be a million extra things to celebrate when we finally get to Heaven.
Q: What do you want people to remember most about Bronner and his story?
I want you to remember that God loves you even when it doesn’t seem like He does. Reach out for Him. If you take just one step toward the Father, He’ll run to you with outstretched arms celebrating you with great joy. God is real, and the door is wide open to Him. Sin must be dealt with, but God did that by sending His son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sin on the cross. All we have to do is believe it. Our faith in Jesus Christ saves us, not from pain and suffering, but from an eternity separated from God. God is everything that is good in life. He is light, life, joy, peace and love. In Him, there is no darkness at all. I can’t stand to think of anyone separated from that wellspring of life for all eternity. Take His hand right now and walk through the gate. Jesus is the gate to the Father. I’m asking you to believe in Him. That is Bronner’s legacy: faith that has been tested and has proven itself genuine. In the sight of God, that is very, very precious.
Learn more about Bronner: A Journey to Understand at http://newhopepublishers.com/2015/09/bronner/,
and visit Sherri Burgess’ online home at burgessministries.com.