I recently had a change in my book writing schedule. Some of you know I’ve been working on a book for Crossway since last March or so. The main part of my writing has taken place over the last four months. I had given the manuscript to my wise and discerning friend, C.J. Mahaney, for his thoughts. This is what he said:
1. Great content.
2. I could use an editor.
3. My audience is unclear.
Those comments led to some significant praying and discussion. The short version is this: I wrote the wrong book. You might think I would have figured that out earlier, but no one caught it, least of all me.
So, I’ve narrowed my focus. I’m heading back into the writing process and will be targeting worship leaders, with some thoughts for pastors as well. Crossway has graciously agreed to an extension, but the details are still being worked out.
I’m very excited about limiting my audience and believe this is what I’m supposed to do. It will be a much more practical book, although still rooted in theology. I’m guessing I’ll be able to use about 20-30% of what I’ve written thus far. In the mean time, I may steal some of what I’ve already written for this blog…Here’s a section where I described how the cross encourages us in our suffering.
I’m not sure I’ve ever suffered a day in my life. But I have had the privilege of knowing families that deal graciously with ongoing, chronic pain and suffering. There’s Luscinda and Luke Davis whose son, Micah, was born with an aggressive brain tumor. There’s Steve and Mary Murphy whose son, Ian, was in a car accident and is currently in a coma. There is Ken Bowers, a member of our church, who lost his wife to cancer this past year. There’s Drew and Diane Jones who have been caring for their son Reid for over 15 years. He has no ability to feed himself, and his every need must be cared for by someone else. I can’t relate to what there dear saints have experienced. But I know this. Everyone of us at some point will experience rejection, disappointment, loss, or tragedy. It might be emotional, physical, material, or relational. Does God understand?
I don’t claim to know the suffering you’re currently experiencing or may go through in the future. But one thing is certain. The God we worship is “acquainted with grief.” Grief of a nature that we will never have to experience if we have trusted in the saving death of Jesus Christ. Grief that one R.C. Sproul described as “the scream of the damned.” As bad as my suffering may be, our Savior has suffered more for my sins, that he might bring me to God (1 Pet. 3:18).
The cross assures us that our suffering is not purposeless, blind, unfair, or random. God has taken the most horrific event in all of history – the savage crucifixion of the Son of God – and transformed it into the supreme display of his glory and grace – the redemption of countless millions from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. His suffering means that the suffering of his chosen ones has profound meaning. We can rejoice in our sufferings because we know God is using them to prepare us for the glory that will be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We can be comforted that our sufferings have caused us to run to God for strength (Ps. 59:16-17). We can thank God that our sufferings demonstrate God’s love for us, rather than contradict it (Rom. 8:35-39). We can be encouraged by the fact that we worship the One who has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is. 53:4). Forever.
I pray that meditating on the sufferings of our Savior will lighten whatever load you carry today.