When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes
When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes is hands-down the best book on suffering I’ve read. If you’ve ever wondering what God thinks of pain and suffering—whether our sovereign God cares about what we go through in this life—you should pick up this book.
Tada and Estes answer questions we’ve all asked in the depths of suffering or will likely ask one day: Is God loving? How can he be loving if suffering exists? What’s the difference between allowing something to happen and ordaining it? Is God in control? When suffering doesn’t make sense to us and we’re thrown into confusion and pain, we often wonder what God thinks of it all.
The Who Behind the Why
It’s not that the authors simply answer the questions we desperately ask—they peel behind the questions to find what our hearts are longing to hear. It’s not the why we’re after, necessarily. It’s the Who.
When God Weeps explores who God is in the midst of suffering and how a compassionate God who hates suffering, pain, and death was angry enough to do something about it.
It examines the heart of God, who is big enough to understand our suffering, wise enough to allow it, and powerful enough to use it for our ultimate good, offering us the person of Jesus—the whole person of Jesus—who is the Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with suffering, that we might fellowship with him in his suffering. What a gift.
Yielding to the “Chisel”
Through this book, I learned that suffering fashions us into a “holy and blameless” image of Christ, and as the authors note, this process is much like a figure sculpted out of marble:
The beautiful form, the visible expression of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” is inside Christians like a possibility, a potential. The idea is there, and God uses affliction like a hammer and chisel, chipping and cutting to reveal his image in you. God chooses as his model his Son, Jesus Christ, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29).
I found this image so helpful, especially the idea of “yielding to the chisel,” which is a painful but sweet process. It’s the way we learn obedience from what we suffer. Our circumstances don’t change; we change. But it’s more than that. Tada says she cannot afford to focus on the hammer and chisel. She “cannot look around . . . and bemoan what God is chipping away.”
Believing in suffering is a dead end. Believing in the Sculptor is living hope. Turn your focus on him, trusting that he will never cut or gouge too deeply. . . God is not a casual or capricious Sculptor. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises to be precise with his chisel.
Here’s to leaning in to a God who “wants to show me more, lead me on, raise me higher, ‘refine the sculpture,’ as it were.”
I pray this book points you to the Great Physician with forward-looking hope.
Happy Reading! x