NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Our managing editor J.C. Derrick now on the value of timely reading.
J.C. DERRICK, COMMENTATOR: At the start of this year I began reading the book J-Curve, by Paul Miller. He’s the same author who wrote A Praying Life a few years ago.
The subtitle of the book is “dying and rising with Jesus in everyday life,” and it didn’t take me long to see why J-Curve was one of WORLD’s 2019 Books of the Year.
Early on, Miller tackles a provocative reference in Colossians 1 when Paul says he is “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
Well, Christ’s death was “once for all” (Rom. 6:10), so how can His afflictions possibly be lacking?
The answer lies in our ongoing need to come into union with Christ. When we suffer—as the Bible promises we will—we walk the road Jesus walked.
No one illustrated this better than the apostle Paul. He didn’t just preach the gospel—he lived it.
It’s a never-ending process we all experience: Dying, rising. Down, up.
I’ve talked before about some of the difficult things I’ve faced in my life. Like being with my 17-year-old brother when he suddenly collapsed and died.
At some point we all wrestle with the tension between God’s sovereignty and His goodness. Both are true at the same time.
But that understanding only allows you to go so far. It helps us trust God and His unsearchable ways, but it doesn’t give purpose to our suffering.
The J-Curve does that in spades. It helps you see that trials aren’t just something we have to endure; they are an invitation to come into union with Christ in a way we never could otherwise. They allow us to act out the gospel, dying to our own desires, plans, and reputation, rising with a deeper understanding of Christ’s suffering on our behalf.
Not only is the J-Curve unhindered by seemingly undeserved trials that have no explanation, those are its primary application. This revolutionizes how you view suffering you can’t understand—actually giving you an element of excitement when you face difficulty out of your control.
This is why Paul says in that same verse, Colossians 1:24, that he rejoiced in his sufferings.
I can only describe the timing of my reading J-Curve as God-ordained. Within days of beginning it, my father-in-law went into the hospital. The next week, he died—less than eight weeks after being diagnosed with ALS. It was one of three memorial services for people close to us so far this year. During that same time span three close family members were in car accidents. My father-in-law was the first of four hospitalizations, too.
And yet, amid those trials, our family also welcomed three new lives into the world in a span of 19 days. Two nieces and our own son, Reese Christopher.
Dying, rising. Down, up.
It’s a lot to process. But the J-Curve gives me a framework for it and a better sense of God’s work in our lives.
That also makes it easier to join with Job in declaring: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
I’m J.C. Derrick.