Our favorite two word phrase in the Bible is “But God” or “And God.” Why? Because we think it points to the gospel in a profound way. It highlights the power, presence and grace of God. To the left of this phrase we see only sin and suffering; but just to the right - light and hope. We have come to this countless times over the years - that in Christ, there is always an “And God” in the life of the Christian.
Suffering brings an earthquake to our spiritual lives. Our beliefs are rattled, our confidence is shaken. Up is down and nothing makes sense. Is there a point to all this? Was this a waste? Elisabeth Elliot (writer and hero) said - Suffering is never for nothing. She ’s right. There is much much more happening behind the scenes that we are not aware of. In 2013, pastor John Piper wrote - “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.” And we’re still processing that. God is doing much more than we can see or imagine, much more in our hearts and for the strengthening of our faith. When it seems He is most distant, it might actually be the time that He is most present and most at work in us.
This is significant in at least two ways. In hard seasons, faith and doubt are not an either/or but a both/and. The same heart can have real faith in God but still work through the doubts and questions. In other words, the options are not trust or lament, but both. We need both - biblically grounded trust and hope-filled lament. Second, this ministry is not just for those in hard seasons and so irrelevant for all others. Our aim is to help people prepare for seasons of suffering and to help people process those seasons. Not one or the other, but both/and.
Already Not Yet
With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom was inaugurated; but it will be complete at the second coming. The Gospels emphasize both the “already” and the “not yet” of the kingdom. If we overstress the “already” we’ll be confused and dismayed when suffering comes. If we over stress “the not yet” we’ll be too pessimistic about change and restoration today. We are caught in this tension - saved but being saved, whole but being made whole, already new but being made new. We believe this brings huge implications and much hope for those in suffering