Vox Ecclesia

When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty 
By: Joni Eareckson Tada & Steven Estes

I think we can all agree that anyone who has lived in a wheelchair for over fifty years with no use of arms and legs, all the while demonstrating true joy and satisfaction in God, has something worthwhile to say about suffering. Joni Eareckson Tada sure does!

Two premises steer this book. First, God’s Word “is the proven road map” the authors follow. Nearly every page contains Scripture. In addition, two appendices compile an array of biblical references to God’s hand and purpose in suffering.

Second, WGW “is not so much about affliction as it is about the only One who can unlock sense out of suffering. It’s not why our afflictions matter to us (although they do), but why they matter to the Almighty.” This book is thoroughly God-centered as the reader is consistently directed away from self to God.

Taking on the theological questions of this challenging topic, Pastor Steven Estes (a long-time friend of Joni) begins by painting a captivating picture of a God who is utterly satisfied in being God, yet knows suffering deeper than anyone. Through Jesus, God demonstrated that He cares about our pain and has every right to ask us to trust Him when we’re called on to suffer.

After concisely exposing the unbiblical logic of the “health and wealth gospel,” Estes gives evidence that God’s plan includes suffering. He proceeds to establish Scripture’s teaching that nothing, not even suffering, happens outside of God’s decree.  He then examines our main (and natural) objections.

Building on this foundation, Joni draws on her experience and considers reasons why we suffer. She states that suffering has meaning only in the context of relationship and proceeds with heart-felt passion to describe how the joy in suffering with God is rich and deep. She also addresses the emotional aspect of suffering with a helpful discussion of the Psalms. Joni’s biblical answer regarding how to be content in suffering is as radical as it is unnatural. In conclusion, the connection is drawn between our suffering and Heaven and Hell.

The thorny topic of suffering provokes doubts, fears, longings and questions in all of our hearts. This book neither ignores them nor dilutes the biblical answers. Possessing both a practical edge and heartfelt warmth, these engaging and easy-to-read authors present straight truth (which at times can be hard) with sensitivity, humility, and compassion.

Joni defines suffering as “having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have.”  No one in our church is quadriplegic, yet we all can identify with this definition to one degree or another. In all our suffering, there is something, actually someone, we need even more than answers—God. This book magnifies Him making it worthy of our attention.