Q&A with Sean Nolan 

Author of To Those Who Suffer

by Audra Jennings Monday, June 21, 2010
In To Those Who Suffer, Nolan explains that when we suffer, we often view the situation through the human sin-stained perspective. This results in us immediately coming to the conclusion that this situation is extremely painful and, therefore, it must be wrong and not part of God’s will for our lives. However, from God’s perspective, He has allowed this suffering in our lives for a purpose, and, because God is absolutely good, His purpose for allowing the suffering in our lives must be a good one.

What we often overlook is that God’s goal for our lives is very different from ours. Nolan states that it is imperative that we understand God’s purpose for allowing mankind to encounter suffering. If we do not understand that God has done the right thing through allowing suffering into the world and our lives then we cannot expect to understand why God chooses to use suffering to conform us into the image of His Son, as opposed to a more pleasant method.

Q&A with Sean Nolan
Author of To Those Who Suffer

Q: You have just written a book called To Those Who Suffer. To whom were you writing this book? Is this book a message for anyone who has known life’s challenges?

A: The truth is that this book is not for everyone. I feel that you really have to have passed through extreme suffering in order to understand the ideas and conclusions presented within these pages. The reason for this is that this book is primarily written to those people in the kingdom of God who do not have the option of hoping for circumstantial relief from their suffering. These people cannot have the horrific circumstances that have caused their hardship reversed or removed. The people I am talking about here are those who have lost someone to death, people who have permanent physical medical conditions that cannot be healed like amputees and quadriplegics—people who have permanent physical pain. This book is written to the Christians who have faithfully believed and followed the Lord in the face of horrendous suffering and pain.

Q: You write that the love of God and the suffering of Christ go hand in hand. We don’t often think of love and suffering as two ideas that should go together. Can you explain?

A: The cross was not only the greatest act of love that the world has ever seen and ever will see, but the cross was also the greatest act of suffering that the world has ever seen and ever will see. God’s love for us cannot be viewed outside of Christ’s suffering for us; God loves us so much that He is allowing us to follow in the footsteps of His Son. If we gladly accept the blessing that comes from following Christ the All-Conquering King, we must also accept the hardship that is allowed in our lives by Jesus the Suffering Servant. We must always remember that the cross comes before the crown!

Q: In the book you state that God is more interested in our character than our comfort, yet why are we as Christians so uncomfortable with the idea that God allows us to endure suffering when He could instead choose to remove it?

A: When we suffer, we often view the situation through the human sin-stained perspective. This results in us immediately coming to the conclusion that this situation is extremely painful and, therefore, it must be wrong and not part of God’s will for our lives. However, from God’s perspective, He has allowed this suffering in our lives for a purpose, and because God is absolutely good, His purpose for allowing the suffering in our lives must be a good one.

Q: In To Those Who Suffer you have tackled one of the thorniest questions of the Christian faith. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to His children?

A: God’s goal for our lives is very different from ours. It is imperative that we understand God’s purpose for allowing mankind to encounter suffering. If we do not understand that God has done the right thing through allowing suffering into the world and our lives then we cannot expect to understand why God chooses to use suffering to conform us into the image of His Son, as opposed to a more pleasant method. If suffering were a tree, its fruit would be unique and extremely rare. The reason why the Lord uses the painful process of suffering to sanctify us (conform us into the image of His Son) is that suffering produces unique and extremely rare fruit that cannot be grown or cultivated by any other means.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from this book?

A: It is the goal of this book to help us understand that there is a strong relationship between this truth and the way in which God handles the suffering in our lives. The healing of our spiritual circumstances is God’s number one concern; our physical suffering is often used by God to make us aware of our spiritual problems. This is not always the case, but, regardless of whether it is true or not in your life, we need to understand that the Lord will not bring about an end to our physical problems until our spiritual ones are dealt with. God has a purpose for allowing you to suffer innocently and that purpose is of a spiritual nature. You may not have a huge spiritual issue that needs resolving. You may just simply be the victim of our cruel world. Whichever category you fall into, you need to take courage from the fact that God can and will bring about a glorious spiritual purpose through your suffering. You may not be getting a physical miracle from the Lord, but I guarantee that you will get a spiritual one. It may look hopeless and it may look like the Lord has forgotten you and failed you miserably. It may feel like you are the first person in the history of mankind that the great God of the universe has failed. This may be how it looks and feels, but I can assure you that this is not how it is. Jesus keeps His word and He came through for the disciples. All that He promised came to fruition and His promises proved to be amazing and purposeful.

To Those Who Suffer: Understanding God’s Purpose and Pathway through Pain by Sean Nolan

http://www.tothosewhosuffer.org/

Audra Jennings is Senior Media Specialist at The B & B Media Group. Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.

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