Listened to the audiobook of this one, read by Joni, and it took me back to when my mom would listen to her radio program each morning. I’m grateful that my mom surrounded us with voices of truth such as Joni, and it was refreshing to revisit her profound story and the winsome way she discusses suffering.
Joni is full of cheer and wisdom, which she has only gained through her years of suffering and comforting others who are suffering. Her insight into the topic of how Christians should understand God’s purpose in suffering is profound and spot on biblical. There are points where she perhaps states things in a overly sentimental way.
A few takeaway points for me were the thought that when someone in the church is suffering it produces incredible unity (i.e. prayers, service, etc.) in the body. We ask God to give us unity in our churches, and very often He will grant a hard province to one of us in order to bring us all together in prayer, fasting and service to each other. We wouldn’t pick our trials, but He hand picks them in order to sanctify us and wean us of treasuring earthly joys too closely.
Further, sufferings only make sense when we see them as coming from God’s hand. Here Joni is thoroughly Calvinist; she doesn’t paint a rosy picture of God not wanting trials to happen to us, but He can’t do anything about it other than cheer us on in the midst of Satan’s ragings. Rather, Joni points out that if our sufferings are not ordained by God, then they are utterly pointless and meaningless. God’s sovereign purpose to conform us into Christ’s image and share in His sufferings is the only way to make sense of human suffering. We must understand that through all the hardships we must face in this world, God has ordained them and has a purpose behind them all.
We know this, Joni points out, because Christ suffered. If God is not the ordainer of such seeming tragedies, then the cross is hollowed of its meaning. As she memorably put it, we will sing praise eternally unto the Lamb which was slain. Our heavenly praise will center upon the sufferings of Christ, and in His death and sufferings all our fleeting trials will make complete sense, and will redound unto the praise of His glory. Not a light topic to deal with, but wonderfully and sweetly dealt with by Joni. I highly recommend getting this on audiobook so you can enjoy her cheerful personality sharing her insights into this difficult issue!