A Theology of Suffering and Difficulty
By carefully considering the full theological context of trials, this book seeks to show that Christians can realistically count it all joy when various trials come upon them. This is not a natural response, but it is the only response that the Bible permits. However, it is not simply commanded without good reason; there is tremendous biblical evidence that would convince us to so respond. From a personal perspective, it is one of the most important means that God uses to conform us to the image of his Son, enabling us to more effectively glorify him and drawing us closer to himself. If we believe that knowing God is of the greatest value, we will value the trials he brings. From a corporate perspective, that is, the kingdom of God (the body of Christ, the church), we find an even larger context in which God uses trials. The church, as we find in Acts 4, is powerful as it expresses concrete love, seeing to it that there are no needy among it. The needy are those in trials and as the church loves its needy by caring for them, it bears witness to God's care and love to those in need and witnesses to those outside the church in a most powerful way. So we see that God is truly at work in trials, both personally and corporately, glorifying himself, conforming us to the image of Christ, witnessing to the world and building his kingdom. It is a picture of God at work in a particularly powerful way.
Michael E. Lewis