by Larry Dry
Dr. John Dunlop, author of Finishing Well to the Glory of God, sees patients even the day after running a marathon. One of his elderly patients greeted him, saying, “I understand you ran the marathon yesterday. That’s 26 miles, isn’t it?”
Dr. Dunlop responded jokingly, “No sir, it’s 26.2 miles. Don’t forget the point two; it was the toughest two-tenths of a mile I ever ran.”
We may feel that way when we realize our final years are closing in. Our later days may be our most difficult.
How will we deal with end-of-life challenges? As we endure pain and suffering, will we be able to say God is good? Will our difficulties weaken or strengthen our faith?
Advice for handling hardship abounds, including simplistic slogans about lemons and lemonade. No one, however, should offer trite advice to a person experiencing trials. When someone we know is suffering, the best support is to offer our presence and our compassion.
The church should prepare the saints to suffer well, teaching biblical truths about enduring difficulties before they arrive. Christians have the means to avoid defeat and to grow through adversity. Instead of separating us from God, suffering has the potential to bring us closer to God. The Book of Job explores one man’s struggles as he examined his hopes, doubts, and convictions in the midst of physical and emotional upheavals. Job endured intense agony, yet he worked through suffering to experience a deeper and more satisfying relationship with God.
Through Job, God teaches that it is acceptable to struggle with questions and doubts. Job was depressed and disheartened, and he often thought he was experiencing God’s wrath. Yet Job was faithful. Eventually God came to Job — not with answers, but as someone to relate to. Job moved through suffering to know God better. We can do the same.
In Romans 8:38-39, Paul assures us that no calamity can separate us from God’s love: “not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers … or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Based on Finishing Well to the Glory of God by John Dunlop, M.D., © 2011. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
Larry Dry is retired after serving as managing director of adult resources at LifeWay Christian Resources. He and his wife, Twila, currently have three grandchildren. Dr. Dry lives in Thompson’s Station, Tenn.
This article originally appeared in the May, 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe