Good Theology Prepares For Suffering

Greg Strand – December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Many of us have been influenced by Tom Schreiner, professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary, through his ministry of writing. He has been used of the Lord in significant ways. For one who knows Tom personally, one will be struck by his humanness and his humility. Schreiner is a very gifted scholar, church-man, and he has served in the role of preaching pastor for many years. But none of this has come at the expense of his priority of loving God, and recognizing His priority in all of life, a God-centered and God-glorifying priority, and loving his wife and family.

This past August the Schreiners had an experience no one wants but to which all living in a fallen-redeemed-not-yet-glorified are suspectible, in one form or another, to one degree or another. No one is immune/exempt, including Christians. Diane, his wife, was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. In the immediate wake of the accident, she was unconscious, with multiple broken bones, fractures, and bruising to her brain. No one knew the seriousness of the brain injury.

How does one respond in a situation like this? Does one’s theology, i.e. what one believes, matter? It most certainly does. In the account written by RuthAnne Irvin, “Schreiners display strong faith amid tragedy,” Baptist Press (November 29, 2012): , she highlights some statements made from the context of a tear of hurt and pain, and trust in the sovereign, providential goodness of God. Here is a record of some of those statements made by Tom during those days.

This is from his first CaringBridge entry:

We don’t know for sure, and in one sense it doesn’t matter. God reigns over all things, and now we deal with the situation he has placed us in.

This comes from a post on September 2:

If sparrows don’t fall to the ground apart from the Father, neither do bicycle riders. Not even the tiniest thing can happen to us apart from the Father’s will. He didn’t cease being her Father when she fell…. Why did it happen? The scriptures are clear: to bring glory to God…. He planned it for our good, so that we would become more like Christ and trust our Father even more.

Diane has made good recovery, miraculous recovery, completing outpatient therapy on November 19. Diane has not made a complete recovery, but incremental and amazing steps have been taken since the accident.

Undergirding this is not just belief, doctrine or theology, or a naïve Pollyannaish sort of wishing it better than it is, ignoring or denying the reality of hurt, suffering and pain, implications of the Fall. Instead, because of who God is and His plan is good, He can be trusted to work all things out for good (Rom. 8:28), and then our lives are lived out based on the solid, bed-rock truth of God and His promises.

Tom’s statement affirming this was the following:

The best thing to prepare for suffering is good theology. Whether it is life or death, healing or disease, God is good and He rules.

Amen! We are grateful for God’s gracious Hand of healing in Diane’s life. We are also grateful for His grace that sustained the Schreiners in a way that they made much of God and His glory through this difficult experience. I share this not to elevate Tom, Diane or the Schreiner family. I do so for the purpose of joining them in giving thanks to God. I also share it with the knowledge that their experience and their trust will be used as an illustration for us to be rooted in good theology so that when, not if, these sorts of experiences occur, we will, by God’s grace, persevere through them trusting in and resting upon, with full assurance, God’s greatness (sovereignty), His goodness (kind and merciful) and His goal for His children (providence), all to God’s glory.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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