Interview with Ajith Fernando

I was impressed by this interview with Ajith Fernando posted on the Crossway blog today regarding his book A Call to Joy & Pain.  He has some insightful things to say on the topic of suffering.


You say that one of the weaknesses of the church and individual Christians is “the lack of a theology of suffering.” What are the greatest dangers when we don’t have such a theology, and how does it affect us?

We will not have the ability to face suffering biblically if we do not have a theology of suffering. Because of their problems, some move away from their call and end up missing God’s best for them. Others remain in their place of suffering, but do so with anger, bitterness, deep discouragement, or even depression. A theology of suffering provides a base upon which we can build healthy attitudes toward difficult circumstances, so that we can always live joyfully.

You mention wanting to help people develop an approach to life that “refuses to look upon suffering as a big deal.” How can this be possible when we inherently view suffering as being a very big deal?

If we realize the great wealth of a life of godliness with contentment (1 Tim. 6:16) and the great wealth of our riches in Christ, then we are able to put suffering in perspective and look at it in relation to the greatest things in life. Then the sting of suffering is reduced. Our theology tells us that even suffering will work out for our good (Rom. 8:28). We realize that suffering is less significant than the love of God for us and in us (Rom. 8:31-38) and the deep joy of the Lord in us arising from the fact that God loves (1 John 3:1) and delights in us (Zeph. 3:17).

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