Framing a Stroke – Which Frame?

How should I look at my experience with a stroke?  My recovery has been excellent, but the truth that I had a stroke still stands.  It’s disturbing.

Hospital feetI come face to face with the age old question: If there is a God, and if he is good and all powerful, why does he allow such evil? 

Often, without anything better, we Christians mumble some vague answer or spout a convenient verse.  Not terribly helpful.

Timothy Keller’s book, Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, offers some clear thinking.  It begins with a picture of attitudes toward suffering in different world views and religious systems summarized as follows:

                         Moralistic    Transcendent   Fatalistic        Dualistic             Secular                                 Karma             Buddhism             Islam               Marxism

Cause             Wrongdoing          Illusion             Destiny         Cosmic conflict          Accident
Response         Do good          Detachment      Endurance   Purified faithfulness  Technique
Resolution   Eternal bliss    Enlightenment       Glory          Triumph of Light         Society

From Keller’s Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, p. 28

Keller writes, of these common views of suffering, “Buddhism says accept it, karma says pay it, fatalism says heroically endure it, secularism says avoid it or fix it.” (Keller, p. 30).  We see the secular attitude toward suffering on display in our culture in every way.  When an accident happens, someone must be blamed.  Lawsuits are filed to ensure payment.  Laws must be passed to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  We strain to control, to limit risk, to protect comfort and happiness at great cost.

Still, people suffer.

Christianity has a much better answer.  It promises that everything has a good purpose, that our trials and challenges are for our good and God’s glory, and that it’s all possible because of Jesus Christ and his…suffering.

The One who allows suffering in this world surrendered to it himself.  The One who faithfully walks with us through our suffering endured his alone.  The One who calls us to suffer in his name suffered first for our sake.

Jesus’ painful trial was not the end of the story.  The One who died for our sins rose to life in complete victory over evil, and he promises that we will also rise again to live forever in perfect wholeness.

A biblical view of suffering does not minimize it or glorify it or deny it or try to control it; it simply admits it and submits to it when it happens.

 That doesn’t make our tough spots any less painful, but it offers us great strength and hope through them.

That is the frame I must use.  I’ll do my best.

Which frame do you use?

“…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom his had given us.”  Romans 5:3-5


12 thoughts on “Framing a Stroke – Which Frame?

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  1. Judy, this is a fabulous post–and I SO agree with you. God’s promises don’t include that we’ll be spared suffering–but He DOES promise He’ll be right there with us. Going through the 9-month depression this past year, that was the ONE thing I held onto by my fingertips–I KNEW He was right there, and not goin’ anywhere that He wouldn’t take me with Him. And He brought me through–Again–so I can have every confidence and Bible Hope that He will do the same for you. I appreciate so much your willingness to share with us–authenticity is a great encourager for others. God bless you abundantly–love, Caddo

  2. Thanks for sharing. My prayer is for full recovery and the realization that you have been designed special and your stronger than we really understand. There is eternal life flowing in and through you.
    I liked the table from Tim’s book. My take is that Jesus was all of those points and from whatever point one may be at when an event like your stroke happens He is able to reveal some cool stuff about the reality in which we all find ourselves in.
    Sometimes it is not until we are in these extreme positions do we really open up to the many possibilities. That list points out a few ways in which an infinite God can work.
    Thanks for sharing. I was missing you.

  3. Prayers for your continued recovery Judy and for the wisdom and grace to process it for good. I cling to Romans 8:28 as others have already stated. It’s my “life verse” and it never becomes rote to me. If we don’t believe that God can and will work for good, what do we have? One of the other systems that you cite from Keller’s book? Those are wholly unsatisfying and without hope. God is sovereign and God is good. That gives us the strength and hope to go forward.

  4. Thinking of you and praying too as you continue to recover . . .and submit to His plans and purpose for it all. Thank you for sharing your suffering story with us, to help us. I see part of His purpose being fulfilled right in this post. 🙂

  5. Beautiful message, Judy. I’m with you on the frame, my friend. I’m not sure where I’d be without Christ. Keller’s book sounds good. I’ll add it to my growing wish list. So thankful you are healing!

  6. Hi Judy – thanks for sharing today. I’m sorry to hear about your stroke but glad that its effects on you have been minimal and that you’re getting back to your regular activities. But of course experiences like this get you thinking or re-thinking about the big questions. Keller’s thoughts on how different belief systems deal with suffering are really interesting; I am going to look up his book to read more. This summer my mother became ill and is now in hospital with liver cancer, probably incurable. So our family has got hit with the big question of suffering quite suddenly as well. Remembering God is in control is so important at these times, and trusting Him for the outcome.

    1. Hi Jeannie,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s cancer. I will add her to my prayer list of cancer patients, sadly always taking on new names. And Timothy Keller’s book is a great help for those facing suffering – I recommend it. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts! Judy

  7. I agree with you and choose to believe: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

    God bless you.

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