When Jesus DOESN’T Save Us


Are you someone who is trying to endure great suffering?

Are you facing trial followed by trial followed by trial?

Do you sit by while others report great answers to prayer, healing, checks in the mail, loved ones saved but you have only more requests or the same request again this week?

I don’t know why it is that some of God’s children are called to suffer in this way while others tell a different story but I have seen it.

We prayed fervently for one friend but her life ended early from cancer. Then we prayed for another friend and her tumor was, miraculously, benign. One woman’s children follow a hearse down the highway while the other woman’s children carry on, now far enough away from the tumor to take their mother’s life for granted.

Corrie ten Boom survived the Nazi concentration camps after suffering for hiding Jews during the war. She lived to learn lessons of forgiveness, to grow old, to testify to Jesus’ presence in the camps but the words she quotes most often belong to her sister, Betsie, who died in the camps less than a month before Corrie received her release. Betsie’s words? “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

We know that the power of Jesus can heal the paralytic but Joni Eareckson Tada has lived, faithfully serving Jesus, since she was seventeen, as a quadriplegic after a diving accident. Today she is sixty-one. She’s written books, married, created art, ministered to millions of people but not only does she remain paralyzed, she has also suffered breast cancer and chronic unrelenting pain. This goes beyond our understanding.

In a 2010 article in Christianity Today, when questioned about how she was facing the diagnosis of breast cancer, Tada referred to the opportunity it has allowed her to tell every medical person she meets about Jesus Christ. All of them ask her how she can face this suffering and she tells them the story of Jesus.

Logically, it makes sense that if God simply answered every believer’s prayer with what they wanted, if He gave every believer a perfect life with perfect health and ample finances, then people would seek Him out for those things and they would miss HIM.

But God is more than the answers He provides and so there must be some who suffer unbearably on a human scale, so that they can see and testify to the truth that “He is enough.” To be able to say “When I went through that trial, Jesus was with me and that was sufficient.”

That is more miraculous than the blind seeing, the lame walking, and the deaf hearing again – to endure the unendurable and see Jesus there in the midst of it. To praise Him sincerely for who He is when you’ve been denied what others around you receive. To testify that if all you have is Jesus then you have all you need and to do that from hell’s outpost on earth – that is the power of Christ at work.

Of course, none of us volunteers to be the one to deliver that message, nor should we. This world is full of sin and suffering and some measure of it will find us all. God, in His sovereignty, determines how much and gives those called to it access to the strength required to bear it.

Sometimes it is a test for the sufferer. But it is also a test for those who know the sufferer – will they reach out to minister? Will they share what they have? Will they sit with someone in pain – helpless to do anything but watch – and allow the comfort of their presence to be enough? Will they willingly risk themselves to enter the suffering of the other just as Jesus entered our suffering?

Those who suffer deeply have a foretaste of the truth that we are more than what we appear on earth. My friend was not a victim of cancer – oh, no – that is what happened to her but that is not who she is.

Betsie ten Boom was not a prisoner of the Nazis – that is what happened to her but that is not who she is.

Joni Eareckson Tada is not a quadriplegic – that is what happened to her but that is not who she is.

You are not a bankruptcy or a divorce or an orphan or a widow. Nor are you a victim of homelessness or rape or disease or unemployment or abuse. If you are in Jesus Christ, those are things that happened to you but they are not what you are.

When Jesus doesn’t save us from circumstances and trials it really seems He should save us from, remember that Jesus has kept your life, your essence, who you really are, safe until His appearing.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Let the truth that your life is safely hidden with Christ feed your spirit in the midst of suffering. Be one who testifies that where you are, Jesus is there, too. There is nowhere He won’t go to be with His children and He is enough. That is the word of our testimony.

**Word of caution – to watch this video is to enter into suffering – if you are tenderhearted watch with caution

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7 Comments

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  1. You said, “But it is also a test for those who know the sufferer – will they reach out to minister? Will they share what they have? Will they sit with someone in pain – helpless to do anything but watch – and allow the comfort of their presence to be enough? Will they willingly risk themselves to enter the suffering of the other just as Jesus entered our suffering?”

    Thank you for that reminder, Lori. It’s so tempting to sigh with relief that it’s not you (yet)…but He’s calling us to those moments of weeping with those who weep. We comfort others…sometimes “with the comfort we ourselves have received” (2 Cor 1:4-5) and sometimes in our silent presence.

  2. Lesley says:

    Wonderful insight Lori! Those women are extraordinary examples of what it looks like to follow the Lord.

  3. Heather says:

    This is an extremely powerful post, Lori. It is relevant to all because everyone will face suffering at some point.

  4. Lori, I have reposted onto facebook. Powerful, profound and thought provoking.

  5. Pam says:

    I think the hardest part is having hope in the time of suffering. Our stories might be in the process of being weaved, but if we can’t see the finished product through the pain, waiting can be very difficult.

  6. It’s agony, Pam. Agony to wait for the end of the story. This is when our hope must be, not in a particular outcome, but in the character of a loving, merciful God with whom we have entrusted our lives. I know from my own life that the waiting is agony and often times holding onto hope is like gripping a razor blade. But He is worthy of our trust.

  7. sheri says:

    Pray and wait. Pray with trusting God that He hears and answers in His Time. Pray when we hurt. Pray while in the agony of suffering. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Pray and remain faithful to God who cares and knows the outcome of our suffering.
    ‘But He is worthy of our trust.’ Lori Roeleveld Great insight throughout your words and strong concluding sentence!