From the pulpit: God opens eyes through suffering

German Theologian Emil Brunner gave a sarcastic but profound suggestion that Adolf Hitler should be posthumously given an honorary doctor of theology degree because he awakened Europe to her Christian heritage by showing her what the world would be like without Christianity.

Suffering brings with it a demanding kind of transformation. However, what is left of us after each suffering does not have to be the feeling of disappointment, brokenness or failure.

In Christ, we may live with suffering&8217;s goodness. When life turns against us, the psalmist&8217;s prayer is able to lead us to a redemptive place with our struggle.

&8220;Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths&8221; (Psalm 25:4).

Roddy Cooper has shared literally dozens of times how very thankful he is for his encounter with cancer. Today he is an unembarrassed believer living with hope and doing extraordinary ministry with many who feel no hope until they meet Roddy. His witness is that suffering awakened him to the goodness and salvation of Jesus Christ. For sure, what is left of us after each suffering is different.

We pray to God for deliverance from evil and troubles. Prayerfully, no one would invite pain into his or her life.

No. Rather, we ask God for everything from a new birth to second chances in marriages, businesses and raising our children. We know that &8220;God knows and God cares.&8221;

Even from a cross, Jesus was taking prayer requests from two thieves. Our requests of God are almost always for help, deliverance and escape. Occasionally we confess to God our part in bringing about our suffering, but only as a last resort.

On the anniversary of our son&8217;s death I cannot bear to think of our terrible loss and pain as suffering&8217;s goodness. However, this past year has propelled me and mine into many hard-to-breathe life-defining moments which I believe, for the most part, we (the Garrett family) have not squandered.

No! By the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, we have new and open eyes to what it means to live &8220;Twixt that darkness&8221; and God&8217;s Goodness Light found in Jesus Christ. Let us pray for one another. May God show us His way and path.

Will Garrett is the pastor at Christ Church United Methodist.