I hope most of you are familiar with the analogy of the relational love-tank?(Credit to Dr. Chapman for the concept).

If my love-tank is full, my wife’s love to me is very real to me. Even when a tough time comes up, I am likely to have enough “love in my tank” to make it through to the other side. The catch is that I can’t fill my own love-tank; I can only fill my wife’s tank. All I can do for myself is to try and be receptive to the love my wife is trying to give me.

Now, I never thought of it like this before, but I think I also have a love-tank in my relationship to God. I can’t fill my tank, but I can show my love to him in many ways.

The problem is my own love tank is running low! In many ways this is so much like marriage; I know God loves me, and I trust him, but his love just isn’t very real to me at the moment.

I was talking to him about it, and I think he showed me where the problem lies. I’m not really receptive to his love (I can’t see it) due to a way that I am thinking. And this is where I hope you guys and gals will help me:

I believe that suffering is a good and necessary ingredient to every Christian’s life; it comes to us all at different times and in different guises. I do think this is the truth, but I think that I have misjudged God’s feeling about it…

I have said (and agreed with statements) that imply that God doesn’t care to make us suffer. He is unaffected when we experience trouble; there is no real compassion when we are troubled – all in the name of his love and care for us of course!

I think this has killed the warmth of love in my heart. My heart is afraid to receive love from God, because it expects the cold shoulder the moment the rubber hits the road. I can see how my hard-core attitude has really not been kind to my soft and sensitive heart.

My request is this: What revelation from scripture do you have about God’s attitude to godly and holy suffering? (Not suffering as a consequence of sin, or general suffering in the fallen world).

I know that this is something I’ll have in the back of mind as I continue to read the Word.


11 thoughts on “Love-suffering

  1. Why compartmentalize suffering? Is there really a difference between “godly and holy suffering” and general suffering? Can we not attribute all suffering to the sin of someone? Perhaps even the suffering from sickness can be attributed to sins of our ancestors? Does not all suffering emanate from within creation? Maybe the compartmentalization is a part of the problem?

  2. Hi kansasbob! Thanks for popping by and commenting, you are very welcome. Do you have any other revelation about God’s attitude towards suffering that might encourage the author?

  3. Finch my brother, thanks for that honest post and interesting thought about a love-tank with God. I am, however, hesitant to share quickly on such issues. Just briefly, it makes me think, of course, of Job and his advisers who were quick to diagnose him based on his symptoms. In their worldview, the situation consisted of only two parties – God and Job – so obviously it was Job’s fault. As we know, this wasn’t true and God didn’t approve of their approach. At least one of the reasons Job’s story is in the bible is to stop us from trying to explain what causes every suffering (talk about the butterfly effect!) and to shift the focus to how we respond to it. God seems to care more about how we deal with suffering and less about how we diagnose it. I also always found it quite fascinating that the whole battle between God and Satan was (in your words) about whether Job’s love-tank would run dry or not. That’s all I feel free to say for now, I will meditate on it some more and see what comes from that 🙂

  4. You are welcome JC. Regarding …

    “Do you have any other revelation about God’s attitude towards suffering that might encourage the author?”

    Maybe. Most of my suffering has involved loss – loss of a wife, loss of relationships, loss of abilities and loss of health. I think that suffering usually involves loss. Job suffered because of the loss of children, possessions and health. When we suffer we often do not take loss into consideration. We do not understand the denial, frustration and anger associated with it. We are often blind to the things that help us come to places of acceptance. Suffering, like grief, is so very unique to the one experiencing the pain. Yet I think that it is helpful to recognize the phases of pain when we suffer as they will help us come to places of acceptance.

  5. Thanks for sharing that – I think you’re right about loss and the complex emotions it produces in us. I used to moralize these reactions in the past, thinking that they were choices that I made. Recently I have started thinking that perhaps emotions are not moral and that they rather serve to help us understand ourselves better. I came to that conclusion because I realized that I cant repent of frustration. I can repent, though, for the way I respond to my frustration or for the beliefs I have that produce that frustration (if they are carnal). I felt really freed by the truth that my emotions are not right or wrong, that I don’t need to suppress them with an iron will but rather let them speak to me about how I see myself and the world around me. Perhaps sometimes our lack of healing also comes from how we deal with this issue.

    Another thought I had yesterday was that Peter talks about suffering so much in his letters, and I was reminded about one passage where he says that God finds it pleasing when you suffer unjustly with a good attitude. I think Finch’s heart became hard because he saw the word pleasing there instead of painful. I have always been taught that God would find it pleasing because its produces good things in me, and this is partly true I guess, but another side of it hit me yesterday. I had this image of a father watching on the sidelines as his son runs a marathon. The son is tackling a monster hill towards the last quarter of the 50km race and his face is filled with pain as his father watches on. Now the key is: what does the father feel when he sees his son suffering? For sure, his instinct is to save his child from pain. But here is what opened my eyes to another dimension: the son and the father have an understanding – a greater goal, to finish the race and claim the prize! The father looks on, and he doesn’t just see a son in pain, he sees a son who is pushing himself willingly through the pain, a son who is overcoming. The father looks on, and sees with pride how his son perseveres and presses on towards the goal. His whole body aches as he runs past his dad, but he smiles briefly in acknowledgment of his support. Surely, the son has a good attitude under suffering that he has chosen by entering the race, and this is pleasing to his father. It is not only pleasing because this race will produce good things for his son. No, he is already pleased because his son is showing character in the moment and doing the family proud.

    In short, the insight I had was – God hates to see us suffer, but he loves to see us suffer well.

  6. Thank you JC and Kansasbob.

    It is really good to think about these things together, and the points you have made as well as the spirit of the conversation has really blessed me.



  7. Yes, thanks for the comments kansasbob! Please join us in our other conversations on the blog if you’d like, it would be nice to hear more from you

  8. I know I’m a little late on commenting, but I do have an encouraging thought… it comes from Ps 103. Now I must confess, this is dealing with suffering from sin, or rather our weakness into being duped by its fruit.

    Yahweh is compassionate and merciful;
    he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love.
    He does not always accuse,
    and does not stay angry.
    He does not deal with us as our sins deserve;
    he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.
    For as the skies are high above the earth,
    so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers.
    As far as the eastern horizon is from the west,
    so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us.
    As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Yahweh has compassion on his faithful followers.
    For he knows what we are made of;
    he realizes we are made of clay.

    The cool thing about the word “compassion” is that in Biblical Hebrew, this word comes directly from the word for “womb”: רחם –> רחום. The natural implication, being, that the inherent motherly affection and tenderness that only a mother can have is captured in the Hebrew word we translate as “compassion”. So while this English gloss doesn’t due full justice to this picture, I hope you have a better idea, a more well-rounded sentiment, to this word so often translated “compassion.”

    The really interesting thing is that though “compassion” stems from “womb”—a motherly thing—the poet has no qualms with identifying Yahweh as a father, who similarly echoes this deep and tender sentiment towards his children.

    So I’d say that when we suffer, whether it be because he’s putting us through it, or because we just can’t seem to keep our hands on the right fruit… he hurts for us—just like normal parent—and is only too eager to draw us back in.

    • Hey lylelife,

      That’s so cool – especially that Moses heard God talk about Himself like that as well. I love learning new things about words that I have read often. The emotional life of God is truly something to meditate upon in prayer. I believe that we have access to His emotions as well as His thoughts by the Holy Spirit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s