Jenny Abel is an editor and a writer for Reflections Ministries and Omnibus Media Ministries. She's co-authored the book A Guide to Practicing God's Presence as well as the book Shaped by Suffering with Kenneth Boa. She has over fifteen years of experience in editing, writing, and communications. She currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Shaped by Suffering by Ken Boa and Jenny Abel
Darkness Visible by William Styron
Chapter 1 - Shaped By Suffering
Suffering is all around us. And most people will experience major suffering at some point in their lives themselves. This means the lifestyle of discipleship will at some point deal with suffering. Which means we need to talk about it. In this chapter, Chris and Josh tell their stories and talk about why it's so important for the Church to talk about suffering.
Chapter 2 - How to View Suffering Through an Eternal Perspective
Our perspective is usually limited to our immediate environment. We know and feel only what we experience. And when it comes to suffering, our perspective is clouded and limited even more. It's incredibly difficult to feel and know anything beyond the pain we feel at the moment whether it's the loss of a friend, the pain of betrayal, or the ache of an unfulfilled desire to have children. But could it be that God is working on us in the middle of our suffering, even when we can't feel or sense it? In this first part of our conversation with Jenny, she unpacks the importance of finding an eternal perspective in the middle of our suffering. Whether you're suffering or helping someone who is suffering, Jenny introduces a few things to keep in mind as you walk through painful and difficult seasons.
Chapter 3 - Learning to Submit to God in the Midst of Suffering
We will all experience suffering. It seems to be one of the great constants in life. So as Christians the question we must ask is "how will we respond when suffering comes?" The problem is that suffering comes to each of us in unique ways. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to suffering. What may cause deep suffering for one may not wound another as much. What we can count on is that Jesus will faithfully walk with us through our trials to show us who is. And as we walk with Him through the storms of life, we will learn to submit ourselves ever more to His Lordship and be transformed into His likeness. In this chapter, Jenny tells the story of how God used her suffering to teach her contentment and submission as he transformed her more into the image of Christ. Her story represents just one form that suffering may take but shows the faithfulness of Jesus to walk with us through every trial and circumstance.
Chapter 4 - Christian Suffering Doesn't Create Victims
When the Christians living in Thessalonica experienced the loss of their friends and family members, the apostle Paul reminded them that their grief was not like the grief of the rest of the world who have no hope. For the Christian, hope changes everything. It gives us an eternal perspective. It lets us find meaning and transformation in the midst of suffering and great pain. And it joins us with our savior who suffered a death far worse than many of us will ever taste. Hope is a powerful part of a lifestyle of discipleship in this way because it gives meaning to the everyday moments of life when everything appears to be falling apart. In this chapter, Jenny unpacks the way hope changes us and that, because of hope, we no longer need to live as victims of suffering. Instead, we can learn to live a life of transformation and discipleship no matter what comes up against us.
Chapter 5 - How God Will Use Your Suffering to Transform You
The author of Hebrews noted that Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered. If even Jesus wasn't above being shaped by suffering, we won't be either. But we don't have to suffer alone. When we suffer as a Christian, we can be sure God will use whatever we're going through to shape us into his image. In this chapter, Chris and Josh wrap up this week's conversation with Jenny and discuss why suffering is an important part of what it means to live a lifestyle of discipleship.