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Suffering

David Martin

This is a guest post by Karen Hull.  Karen is a wonderful therapist who counsels from a foundation of biblical truth.  She is also a published author whose book, The Mommy Book: Advice for New Mothers from Women Who've Been There, was featured in the Focus on the Family broadcast and magazine. Karen and her husband Jon have been married for thirty-two years.  This is what she recently wrote to our team of counselors at the Julianna Poor Memorial Counseling Center.  It's so good that I just had to share it with you:

"In view of our discussion in staff meeting about the importance of a theology of suffering, I thought I would pass along a resource I’m finding deeply meaningful.

I recently became acquainted with the work of Matt Chandler.  Matt is a 37-year-old pastor with a thriving ministry in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  A little less than two years ago he experienced a seizure and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.  The prognosis: he most likely had two or three years to live.

Matt is undeniably gifted.  Along with doctrinal integrity, he brings to his sermons a refreshing blend of passion and compassion, bluntness and “fellow-traveler” self-awareness.  I’ve gone back and listened to quite a few of his pre-diagnosis sermons, and they’re excellent.  But in his more recent sermons Matt’s cancer diagnosis/prognosis is an ongoing reminder of his (and our) mortality.  His commitment to walking out his faith in the midst of this trial lends his words a weight, immediacy and credibility they could not otherwise have.

The first sermon I downloaded, recommended by a client, was dated August 14, 2011 and titled “The Mission of God.”  Matt wrote it in response to the suicide of a church employee.  Soon after, I came across his series on Habakkuk, a remarkable three-chapter prophetic book that begins with a complaint against God and ends with a hymn of praise.  As I listened, I couldn’t help wondering if it may be necessary for most of us to travel through frustration and fear and protest to reach a place of dependent trust and spiritual maturity (“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation”).

Other notable sermons from the Village Church website include John Piper’s “Subjected in Hope,” a sermon on suffering he preached to Matt’s congregation less than two months after Matt’s diagnosis and surgery.

In case you’re interested in downloading these or other sermons, the web address is: http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/ 

With prayers for the Lord’s deepest blessings,"

Karen Hull