When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty

When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty

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by Joni Eareckson Tada

It’s easy to trust God when things are going our way and the world makes sense. But when suffering strikes--especially seemingly senseless suffering--we are filled with doubt and stunned by events spiraling beyond our control. In the midst of suffering, we often question the very foundation of our faith--our belief in the God who says he loves us. Since our

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It’s easy to trust God when things are going our way and the world makes sense. But when suffering strikes--especially seemingly senseless suffering--we are filled with doubt and stunned by events spiraling beyond our control. In the midst of suffering, we often question the very foundation of our faith--our belief in the God who says he loves us. Since our trust and obedience rest on God’s character, the questions that life’s tragedies force us to face are difficult, even frightening. Who is God? Can he really be trusted? What are his purposes in the face of suffering? If he can stop suffering, why doesn’t he? Joni Eareckson Tada, a woman who has lived in a wheelchair for more than thirty years, and Steve Estes, a pastor and one of Joni’s closest friends, explore the answers. When God Weeps is not so much a book about suffering as it is about God. It tackles tough questions about heaven and hell, horrors and hardships, and why God allows suffering in this life. Through a panoramic overview of what the Bible says about suffering, the authors make clear who God is, why he permits so much heartache and pain, and how it is we can trust him. With both a practical edge and heartfelt warmth, When God Weeps offers dependence on his love and mercy in spite of our doubts, fears, longings, and questions. It’s a message much needed. Despair and discouragement are rampant. At the same time, fewer people are able to balance God’s purposes and his mercies. Instead, attempting to avoid tragedy and suffering, many Christians confuse simple formulas for faith. But where does that leave the family who loses a son on a military mission? Or the young mother who isn’t healed of cancer? When God Weeps is for people like these . . . and for thousands more who need more -- much more -- than answers.

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Before You Begin
I first met Joni in the summer of 1969 in a church parking lot. Several hundred other teenagers and I had just exploded from the building. The youth meeting was over, and everyone was scattering, engines starting, radios cranked up --- laughter and good-hearted tomfoolery everywhere.
A white station wagon had pulled up to the side steps. Somehow, with my friend Diana holding the keys, it avoided looking like a middle-aged person's wheels. Diana had the world's most carbonated personality. She stood by the front passenger door, next to an empty wheelchair she had pulled from the back seat to unfold. She wanted me to meet the paralyzed friend she had told me about. From my angle up on the steps, I couldn't see the face of the tall girl in the seat. I could see the braces on her wrists.
'Steve, I want you to meet Joni.'
'Hi, Joni.'
The face in the front seat bent down to peer out. Stylishly short blonde hair. Freckle-faced and cute. Ski-slope nose. A bright but bittersweet smile --- sweet because, if you know Joni, that's just her. Bitter because she looked as if that chair had taken something precious out of her.
'Hi, Steve! Good to meet you.' Enthusiastic but tentative.
'You two have a lot to talk about,' Diana effervesced. We agreed it would be fun to get together.
A week later I walked into the stone-and-timber home that I'll always think of as a vestibule into heaven. Antlers over every fireplace, Indian rugs scattered about. Candles, candles. Simon and Garfunkel on the turntable, laughter in every room, and the bubbling friendliness of the parents and sisters from whom Joni had stolen that winning smile.
But once we were alone, it wasn't ten minutes before the question came.
'So, Diana says you're big into the Bible. Tell me, do you think God had anything to do with my breaking my neck?' She casually brushed a wisp of hair from her forehead with the back of her wrist, but those eyes were anything but casual.
Here is the crux of the book you're about to read.
I am a sixteen-year-old nobody, a paper boy, sitting across from perhaps the most popular girl of her huge high-school class from two years earlier. The crowd she ran with I saw only from across the gymnasium. Now look at her. I tap my foot to James Taylor in the background; she just bobs her head. I eat my own lunch; someone has to feed her. I'll be walking out that screen door in about thirty minutes; she'll stay sitting in that chair till the Grim Reaper comes. And she wants to know if I think God put her there? Who am I to open my mouth?
I know what the Bible says about her question. A dozen passages come to mind from years of church and a Christian dad who taught his kids well. But I've never test-driven those truths on such a difficult course. Nothing worse than a D in algebra or puppy-love-gone-sour has ever happened to me. But I think, If the Bible can't work in this girl's life --- it never was for real.
I clear my throat and jump off the cliff.
'God put you in that chair, Joni. I don't know why, but if you'll trust him instead of fighting him, you'll find out why --- if not in this life, then in the next. He let you break your neck because he loves you.'
Oh, it sounded trite to me --- but apparently not to her. We looked at a few verses, and I went home. From that day on I had to study hard just to keep one step ahead of the girl; she always had her nose in that Bible.
This book is about God weeping over human heartache, his entering our anguish himself, and the love that drives him to let us suffer. It's about experiencing the friendship of God along difficult paths we didn't even know he walked. Much of it is written from Joni's perspective because her life is a remarkable laboratory that proves God knows what he's talking about.
But your life is the important laboratory to put God's Word to the test as you read. Do God's thoughts about suffering sound trite to you?
Steve Estes
March 31, 1997

Where do the years fly?
I can still see Steve Estes, humped over his Bible by the hearth, looking up only long enough to put another log on the fire. He'd flip furiously between the Old and New Testaments, finding a page, tracing his finger down a column, and jabbing the very verse to answer my latest query.
'Okay, Jon, now follow me. Listen to this in Ephesians chapter three: 'The purpose is that . . . ,' ' he'd say, as if revving an engine with little taps on the accelerator. Off we'd go, heading down a road of questions, bumping over them, stopping, backing up, and then starting again, taking a detour or two, then shutting down after the last log on the fire had burned into embers. He was as raw and youthful as I, hungry to see truth work. And so we'd be at it again, next Bible study, charging ahead --- he, excitedly pointing out the sights through Scripture, and I, keeping pace, not missing a thing.
If God is loving, why is there suffering?
What's the difference between permitting something and ordaining it?
When bad things happen, is God in cahoots with the Devil?
How can he expect me to be happy this way?
'Hold that thought!' Steve would yell over his shoulder, running to the kitchen to grab another RC Cola.
Never were there sweeter days than those early years we spent journeying through Scripture. Our adventure was to go down that road of knowing God in suffering as far as it would take us. Thirty years later we've passed a few milestones and suffered the bumps and bruises of growing older and wiser. Thankfully we both have marriage partners, Verna and Ken, who keep cheering us on. Much has changed, but one thing remains constant: our friendship still orbits around the Son.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
'...a remarkable book for a world that rarely deals with the whys and wherefores of suffering....This is practical theology at its best.' -- George Grant

'The Tada-Estes team gives us a God-centered analysis of God's purposes in the pains and grief's of his human creatures. This book packs a tremendous punch, and you do not have to be in distress when you read it to be mightily enriched and encouraged.' -- J.I. Packer

'Trouble has a way of damaging our perception of and appreciation of God. But never again - not after reading this book. By two who have cut through the fog to see God clearly even when it hurts, we are led to know his love, tears, and ultimately, his joy.' -- Dr. Joseph Stowell

Meet the Author

Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community. Joni and Friends provides practical support and spiritual help to special needs families worldwide, and equips thousands of churches in developing disability ministry. Joni is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, Heaven, When God Weeps, and A Step Further, winner of the Gold Medallion Award. Joni and her husband, Ken, have been married for over 30 years. For more information on Joni and Friends, visit www.joniandfriends.org

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When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems that the "tl" are always translated as "d". For instance, "exactly" would be misspelled "exacdy", and there were other similar misspellings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago