Quake kills 400 in China; needs assessed

A Baptist Global Response assessment team is on the ground in southwest China's Yunnan province, where a 6.1 earthquake struck Aug. 3, killing nearly 400 people and destroying or damaging 42,000 homes.

Why Suffering Needs Scriptures

The oblivious dog was gleefully playing with an old sock. He was tearing into it—creating new holes—and certainly accomplishing some great feat in his little puppy dog mind.

And then everything changed.

A jolt of electricity flowed into his neck as the shock collar let him know that his behavior was unacceptable. So he stopped tearing into the sock and sat there like a good dog.

But the shocks didn’t stop.

The poor dog kept yelping and spinning and trying to figure out why in the world he was being zapped. He didn’t know what of his behavior was causing this discipline. Nor could he even see the face of his owner to perhaps provide some sort of answer.

You see, his owner was in the other room blissfully typing away on the computer—not knowing that the remote to the shock collar was being activated with every shift of the bottom. The dog’s owner had been accidentally sitting on the remote and discharging it every few seconds.

In Hebrews 12:5-11 we learn of that God disciplines his children. In the context there seems to be some sort of suffering that is taking place. And this suffering ought to be endured because it is intended by God to produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it”.

It’s not a complete analogy by any means but it’s as if the Lord zaps us with 10,000 volts of conviction when we cross boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. God disciplines his children. And he will occasionally discipline his children through the means of suffering.

Yet unlike the above story the Lord’s discipline is never accidental. It is always intentional—with the aim of bringing about our greatest good and furthering His great glory. God knows exactly the conviction that he needs to bring to drop us to our knees. And he knows exactly the measure of comfort to lavish upon us to cause our broken bones to rejoice.

While it is very true that the Lord is able to speak clearly through any means, it is also true that the greatest means His Spirit uses are His Scriptures and His people.

But what do people tend to do whenever the Lord administers discipline? We tend to shut ourselves off from the Scriptures and from God’s people. In the midst of suffering we canwrongly convince ourselves that we are unique and that nobody understands our situation. We shut ourselves off from the very means that could be our comfort.

What ends up happening is that we make ourselves much like the poor dog in the above story. We position ourselves in a place where we cannot see the face of the Master. And with every jolt we are only further confused. You see, Scripture is meant to interpret our experience. Every experience. Even suffering.

When we are being disciplined by the Lord you need precious places like Psalm 51 and Hebrews 12. We need places like Romans 8. We need those sweet and precious promises that keep you clinging to the Lord. Our suffering needs the Scriptures.

And we also need the gentle counsel of other brothers and sisters. We need confident, yet shriveled, hands to hold up our trembling ones. We need those with stronger legs to keep ours from fainting. We need those that have walked this road before us. Our suffering needs the church to make sense of it all.

Therefore, when you find yourself going through the rough times. When you wonder if maybe you are being disciplined—take heart—and don’t cut yourself off from God’s Interpreters.