There Is No Future in Frustration

How we handle the suffering of testing and discipline therefore depends not a little on what we focus on. On a trip to Australia, I met an Anglican bishop who had been mightily used in evangelism and church planting in three African nations. He was sometimes referred to as “the apostle to Tanzania.” After he “retired” from his missionary work in Africa he set up a seminary in the United States. But when I met him, his suffering from Parkinson’s disease was so advanced that he could no longer talk. He could communicate, just barely, by printing out block letters in a wavering hand that was almost indecipherable. He often had to draw a word three or four times for me to understand him.

We “talked” about a number of matters close to his heart- at least, I did the “talking,” and tried to ask most of my questions in a form where he could merely signal yes or no. In the short time I spent with him, I sensed a man of unshaken faith, and so I had the audacity to ask him how he was coping with his illness. After decades of immensely productive activity, how was he dealing with his own suffering, with the temptation to feel he was now useless and fruitless? He penned his answer twice before I could make it out: THERE IS NO FUTURE IN FRUSTRATION. That bishop understood Romans 5 and Hebrews 12.

(D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006], p. 73)

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