I have found Michael Horton’s Too Good to be True [now published as A Place for Weakness] to be an enormous source of encouragement. If you or someone you know is struggling with some kind of tragedy, I can highly recommend this book. It’s very pastoral and above all, scriptural — which is to say, it points to Christ. In this excerpt, Horton again mentions his friend Steve who took his own life:
Christianity is not true because it works. In many cases, it does not work. That is to say, it does not solve all the problems we think it should solve. It isn’t a technique for our personal therapy, but the truth that God has overcome sin and death in the cross and resurrection of Christ. Those who became Christians because they were told that it would fix their marriages, only to find themselves in divorce court, might well give up on Christianity. Those who expected to be free of all their sinful habits, temptations and desires after a conversion in which sudden victory was promised may find themselves disillusioned with God altogether, when they realize they are still sinners saved by grace.
At that difficult funeral of a pastor, friend, father, and brother in Christ who had ended his life of suffering, many people were wondering out loud, ‘If Christianity didn’t work for someone like Steve, how can it work for me?’ It is an honest question, an understandable question. But it assumes that Christianity fixes everything. It doesn’t fix everything, not at least here and now. It does promise that everything will be fixed at the end of history, but in this wilderness experience, we are on pilgrimage to the Holy City. Some pilgrims will find the journey much more difficult than remaining back in Egypt, in unbelief. Steve was not one of those pilgrims who turned back to Egypt. Others will bear their lot in life as best they can, and Steve and his wife were towers of strength to me in my own pilgrimage, as I watched them meet successive disasters by turning again and again to God and his gracious promise.
But Steve was a pilgrim for whom the hike to that eternal city eventually became so heavy that he looked for a shortcut. With his godly wife, he was ‘longing for a better country’ (Hebrews 11:16), but was unwilling to wait. He did not accept God’s timing — and yet he still found a mediator who interceded for him at the Father’s right hand. He, with us, will receive the prize for which he hoped, even in weakness.
Well said, Mike. Well said. And there’s far more like that in this book.
(Reposted from Yinkahdinay, 09.27.06)