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Dave Dravecky on the Impact of Suffering on Faith

Again, it’s a reminder that following Christ is risky and that suffering will come. Jesus makes it very clear: there is no avoiding the cross. Peter couldn’t avoid it, and neither can we.

Dave Dravecky was a professional baseball pitcher who lost his pitching arm to cancer. Soon after that horrible experience, he wrote a book and titled it When You Can’t Come Back. In that book, he said:

“One night…a woman came up to me and told me how she was once down-and-out with a drug addiction – until someone told her about Christ, and she became a Christian and was healed of her addiction. She told me that God wanted all his children to be 100% healthy.

“But does he?” Dravecky asks. “What would God’s children grow up to be like if all the bumps in the road ahead of them were made smooth?

Dravecky continues, “Cancer introduced me to suffering. And suffering is what strengthened my faith. Yet that woman implied I was suffering because I didn’t have enough faith.

“She seemed to be saying, ‘Have enough faith and get the life you want.’ “But,” Dravecky says, “that struck me as making God into some kind of cosmic vending machine, where, if you pushed the right button, you would get a sweet life, free of suffering.

“Someone once said that the difference between American Christianity and Christianity as it is practiced in the rest of the world has to do with how each views suffering. In America, Christians pray for the burden of suffering to be lifted from their backs. In the rest of the world, Christians pray for stronger backs so they can bear their suffering.

“That’s why we look away from the bag lady on the street and look to the displays in the store windows. That’s why we prefer going to movies instead of to hospitals and nursing homes.” (Dave Dravecky, When You Can’t Come Back)

Wow! That’s convicting but so true. Instead of praying for the burdens to be lifted from our backs, we need to be praying for stronger backs to bear the suffering. Because Jesus made it very clear: Suffering will come, but there is glory ahead!

From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Glimpse the Glory, 11/21/2009

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