Posted On May 6, 2013

Today, I’m pleased to welcome Mike Leake, Associate Pastor at FBC Jasper in Jasper, Indiana and the author of Torn to Heal God’s Good Purposes in Suffering to our book review blog here at Servants of Grace.

Dave: Mike, “Why did you write Torn to Heal?”

Mike: Part of it is my own reflections on suffering. As I’ve battled my own periods of darkness and discouraging thoughts, developing a theology of suffering has been a necessity for me personally. I also wrote this book because I believe a healthy theology of suffering is vital for living the Christian life. My passion is that the church might learn to suffer well by modeling deep and abiding faith in God in the midst of suffering.

Dave: “What are some of your hopes and dreams for the book?”

Mike: I want to make lots of money and cause Oprah to have a comeback show just so she can interview me. If that doesn’t happen I will be joyously content with helping people grab hold of Jesus in the midst of tearing. As someone closes the last page of this book I want them to worship. I want them to feel secure in the sovereign hands of a loving God that is so radically dedicated to our redemption that He will do anything to bring about our lasting joy.

Dave, “How can Christians practically process suffering and hardship that they experience daily?” Recently my wife and I have had three deaths in our family, and my dad was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

First let me say that I’m sorry to hear about the recent deaths that have happened in your family, and the painful diagnosis for your father. I pray that the Lord is very near to your family in this time of difficulty.

If I understand your question correctly you are asking how ministers can practically help people grow instead of shrink through times of suffering. Honestly a good portion of that help needs to happen before the furnace of affliction instead of during. There isn’t really a cookie-cutter formula–at least not that I have found. While suffering is still fresh the most important thing for a minister to do is to simply be there. You don’t have to say magic words. In fact Job’s friends got in trouble when they opened their mouths. Don’t resort to Christian platitudes. Just be there. The time will present itself for you to speak if that is necessary. The wise minister knows when that time is.

Preach a very big and loving God in season and out of season. Prepare your people for suffering before it happens, help them to know that they’ll have to use it, and then be there with them when the storm comes. If you’re the person going through suffering–just hang on to Jesus and know that there is no pain or darkness that you can plunge into that Christ has not went deeper still.

Thanks for your time Mike. You can check out more of Mike’s work at his blog: http://www.mikeleake.net/ or follow him as he follows Jesus on twitter: https://twitter.com/mikeleake or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mleake2

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