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Suffering Category

June 6, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Painfully sculpting a masterpiece

If there is no God, suffering has no ultimate meaning, since we all will die and cease to exist. But even with a belief in God, suffering can feel meaningless, as we wonder what possible good can come out of terrorist attacks, crippling depression, mental illness, or the death of a child. There are many reasons the Bible gives for why suffering exists, chiefly that we live in a fallen world that is the product of humanity’s rebellion against God. But God is still sovereign over it all, always working even the worst events in the world for His ultimate good purposes (Romans 8:28), and so we trust that there will be meaning in the suffering. Remember John 9:2-3, where Jesus’ disciples see a blind man and ask him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replies, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Discipleship

May 16, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

When suffering seems meaningless

As a preacher, I often quote from C.S. Lewis, because, well, that’s what evangelical preachers do. I must confess, however, that as quotable as he is, I have only actually finished two of his books, because I find his style difficult to read. One of those books is Mere Christianity, a classic and one of the first books I ever read as a Christian. The second is called A Grief Observed, and contains his journals and reflections after losing his wife, Joy Davidman, to cancer. One of the amazing things about A Grief Observed is that it is the personal reflection on deep suffering written by the same man who wrote The Problem of Pain, one of the enduring Christian classics on suffering....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Ministry

May 31, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

What is your adversity revealing about your character? (2016)

It has often been said that “adversity does not create character; it reveals it.” Going through difficult times is like a heavy truck going over a small bridge: it doesn’t cause cracks so much as it reveals where there are already weak spots. I have mentioned in sermons how I never knew how much anger was in me until I had children....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Character

May 3, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Don't give up

A wise once man once warned me against comparing myself to others, because we so often compare what we know about ourselves with what we don’t know about someone else. Facebook has become notorious for this: we compare our screaming children, struggling marriage, and monotonous routines against the pictures of smiling children, a man’s effusive praise for his wife, and the latest Caribbean vacation photos, and we can’t decide whether to curl up in the fetal position or stab someone. When it comes to the people of the Bible, we can fall into the same trap....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Faith

January 19, 2016 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Suffering and depending on God

As I have preached through Luke 4 over the past two Sundays, one recurring theme has been how God allows all kinds of struggles into our life in order to heal us spiritually and make us holy, while Satan, on the other hand, does all he can to get us to elevate the things of this world above God. Satan knows that if we want anything ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Trust

December 8, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

How God can use your suffering

Today’s post is reprinted from the September 4th, 2012 blog. It is one of my all-time favorite illustrations, and I find it worth reading and reflecting on often. It is an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s book “The Soul Winner.” Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, was a 19th century English Baptist preacher. If you find yourself going through a difficult time, may Spurgeon’s words encourage you to persevere and trust God. Some years ago, I was the subject of fearful depression of spirit. Certain troublous events had happened to me; I was also unwell, and my heart sank within me. Out of the depths I was forced to cry unto the Lord. Just before I went away to Mentone for rest, I suffered greatly in body, but far more in soul, for my spirit was overwhelmed. Under this pressure, I preached a sermon from the words, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” I was as much qualified to preach from that text as ever I expect to be; indeed, I hope that few of my brethren could have entered so deeply into those heart-breaking words...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Charles Spurgeon

November 24, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Making sense of suffering

As a preacher, I often quote from C.S. Lewis, because, well, that’s what evangelical preachers do. I must confess, however, that as quotable as he is, I have only actually finished two of his books, because I find his style difficult to read. One of those books is Mere Christianity, a classic and one of the first books I ever read as a Christian. The second is called A Grief Observed, and contains his journals and reflections after losing his wife, Joy Davidman, to cancer. One of the amazing things about A Grief Observed is that it is the personal reflection on deep suffering written by a man who wrote The Problem of Pain, one of the enduring Christian classics on suffering....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, C.S. Lewis

January 20, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

When a day feels like a thousand years...

For those suffering from physical pain, unemployment, relational stress, or any other number of heartaches, the well-known phrase “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years” is hardly comforting. In its original context, Peter speaks these words in response to the belief of some in his day that God’s refusal to judge the wicked during their earthly life proves that we can live however we please without fear of God’s judgment. Peter rebukes such people, telling them that God withholds judgment because He wants to give everyone a chance to repent of their sin, but that one day He will return and judge everyone, and then it will be too late for the wicked. But back to the whole “day=thousand years” thing. Peter’s point in using that phrase is to make it clear that what seems like a long time to us is like a blink of an eye to God. Certainly those of us accustomed to microwave dinners, high-speed internet, and everything “on demand” should take this to heart. As Peter writes, God keeps His promises ...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Discipleship

November 18, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Persevering through suffering

Over the past ten weeks, I‘ve preached through the entire twelve chapters of the Old Testament book Daniel. One of the reasons I chose the book was that I had never really studied the book in detail, and I was a little intimidated by the second half of Daniel, which is full of prophecies and, let‘s face it, weird things. But as I studied the book of Daniel and considered its message, I found it much more fruitful to focus on the big picture messages and not get sidetracked by secondary issues ‘" namely, trying to ‘œdecode‘ every prophetic figure and event. And so, having completed this sermon series, here are the main messages of the Book of Daniel as I see it:...Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Daniel

April 29, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Thoughts as I waste away...

Tomorrow I head in to the hospital for back surgery. Naturally, the verse that has been going through my head is the one listed above: ‘œThough outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.‘ As we age, it becomes more and more obvious that our health, vitality, and youthful appearance are slowly slipping away, never again to be recovered. And not only that, but all else in this world is receding from us like a wave washing back out to sea. Our relationships will eventually come to an end. Our influence on this world will wane. Our finances will be drained. If we live long enough, most of us will one day end up losing even our independence, as we are forced to rely on the hands of strangers to feed and clothe us....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Discipleship

April 8, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

UConn basketball and the grueling climb to glory

Allow me, if you will, to theologically reflect upon a subject that is admittedly not overtly theological, but is certainly a love of mine: UConn basketball. On Monday night, the UConn men defeated the University of Kentucky 60-54 in order to win their fourth NCAA championship. As wonderful as the other three championships were, there was something especially precious about this one, especially for the seniors, Shabazz Napier, Tyler Olander, and Niels Giffey. After their sophomore year, they endured three tremendous blows from a basketball perspective. Their coach, Jim Calhoun, the man who recruited and mentored them, retired. Their conference, the Big East, broke apart, and UConn ended up a year later in a lesser conference, the American Athletic Conference. And thirdly, the NCAA banned the team from postseason competition for one year because of the poor graduation rates of the basketball players who attended a few years before those three stepped on campus....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Discipleship, UConn basketball

March 25, 2014 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Pastors behaving badly

Over the past few months, there have been all kinds of ‘œmegachurch pastors behaving badly‘ stories in the news. One pastor was revealed to have bought his way onto the New York Times bestseller list. Another pastor was shown to have staged baptisms in order to manipulate more people into getting baptized. And there have been all kinds of other embarrassing shenanigans that have brought shame on Jesus and His church. Every time I read one of these stories, I thank God that I did not experience the kind of meteoric rise in church growth and worldwide fame that these pastors have experienced in their young lives....Keep Reading

Posted in: Suffering Tags: Suffering, Fame