This sponsored post is adapted from the Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul David Tripp.
When Hardship Comes to Stay
It was a surprise visit by an unwelcome visitor like it is for so many sufferers. I didn’t know that day that Mr. Hardship would knock on my door, barge his way in, and take residence in the most intimate rooms of my life. And I didn’t have any idea how his presence would fundamentally change so many things for the long run. I watched him go room to room through my life rearranging everything, wondering what things would be like if and when he finally left. If I could have, I would have evicted this unwanted stranger, but I failed at all my attempts to boot him out the door or deny that he had taken residence in my life. I spent way too much time trying to figure out why he had knocked on my door and why he had chosen this particular moment, but I never got clear answers to my questions.
Once I realized that I couldn’t kick Mr. Hardship out of my life, I gave myself to trying to understand how to live with him or around him. His presence made me feel like an actor in a drama where everyone had a script but me. I felt unprepared and unable, not just the day he first entered, but day after day. Sure, I had known that Mr. Hardship was out there, and I had heard the stories of how he had entered other people’s doors, but somehow I didn’t think it would happen to me. Embarrassment washed over me as I thought of the silly platitudes and empty answers I had casually given people when they’d been caught in the confusing drama I was now in. And I thought about how foolish I’d been to think that this unwanted stranger who, somehow, someway, enters everyone’s door, would for some reason omit mine.
Because I did not have the power or control to make Mr. Hardship leave, I ran to the place where I have always found wisdom, hope, and rest of heart. I ran to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, into the arms of my Savior. As I dove into the narrative of the gospel, which is the core message of God’s Word, I realized something profoundly important and wonderfully comforting: I wasn’t unprepared after all. The message of God’s sovereign control over me and my world, the gospel’s honesty about life in this fallen world, the comfort of the right-here, right-now presence and grace of the Savior, and the insight into the spiritual war that rages in my heart had prepared me well for the entrance and presence of this unwelcome stranger.
I am no longer angry or discouraged that Mr. Hardship entered my door unexpectedly that day. Although I still struggle with the pain and weakness that he has left me with, I know that I am better off because of his presence. No, I don’t like the travail of pain or loss any more than you do, but in my suffering, a miraculous thing happened: Mr. Hardship became a tool of my Savior to produce very good things in me, things that I am sure could not have been produced any other way.
Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. When death, illness, unemployment, or a difficult relationship challenges everything we thought we knew, we can feel utterly unprepared to cope. In his new book Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, best-selling author Paul David Tripp weaves together his personal story, years of counseling experience, and biblical insights to help us in the midst of suffering, identifying 6 traps to avoid—including doubt, discouragement, and denial—and 6 comforts to embrace—including God’s presence, God’s people, and God’s grace. Exploring a wide range of common experiences, this raw yet hope-filled book will empower readers to cling to God’s promises when trials come and then move forward with the hope of the gospel.