In this episode of the Held Podcast, I chatted with Abigail Dodds about the importance of developing a theology of suffering. We talked about what a theology of suffering is, how to develop one, and walked through some common thoughts and reactions to miscarriage that cause us to doubt God’s goodness in the face of our suffering. What we believe about God shapes our experience of suffering, I hope this episode will be a true help in helping you to reconcile your hard experience with a good and sovereign God.
About Abigail: Abigail Dodds is wife to Tom and mom to five great kids. She is a Regular Contributor at Desiring God, the author of '(A)Typical Woman' (Crossway 2019), an M.A. student at Bethlehem College and Seminary, a baking enthusiast, garden fanatic, and mediocre knitter. She writes at hopeandstay.com and on instagram @abigail__dodds .
Questions in this Episode: Would you start off by just telling us a bit about your own experience with miscarriage personally?
Today’s episode is entitled “Developing a Theology of Suffering.” Can you explain for us what this means, and why it’s so important to have?
I know that your miscarriage led to a much longer season of hardship. Can you tell us a bit about that and perhaps use that experience as an example to show us how what we believe about God and know about his word shapes our experience of suffering? How did that season challenge or shape what you believed about God? Or maybe how did what you believed about God impact your experience of that season of suffering?
I received a message recently from a woman who has miscarried who said that that was the first time she had had to deal with “senseless suffering” personally… and by that she meant, a situation in which there was no one or nothing to blame but… well, God. The intensely personal experience of experiencing death within your own body can raise a lot of theological questions, it definitely did for me! Let’s think for a moment from the perspective of a listener who felt like they had a solid understanding of suffering but is suddenly feeling totally stumped by the problem of evil. If God is good, and in control, how can I reconcile the presence of evil, sickness, and death with his character?! What wisdom do you have for us here?
What are some practical ways that we can develop a theology of suffering even in the midst of it?
Maybe you could help us apply the truth to these real scenarios I have read online…
a. “I feel like God is taunting me, pregnant women and big families everywhere, even at church…”
b. I know God is trying to teach me something, but what is there left to learn? I mean really, four miscarriages?! Can we move on to another trial?!
c. For a women for whom the process is taking forever or is having a season of suffering after loss that won’t let up… perhaps she’s saying “I’ve heard the expression “refiners fire” but I feel like I have been forgotten in the kiln, maybe God is punishing me for something.”
d. I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do! I waited until I was married to have sex, we were prayerful about when to start trying, we have served God and attended church and worked with the youth group! What more could he want from us?! How are these teen girls and drug addicts that don’t even want their kids getting pregnant when I’m not?
e. “It’s been a week since they told me the baby’s heart had stopped. I’m still throwing up, still have this bad taste in my mouth, still so exhausted and having food aversions… The baby is dead, the least God could do is take away these symptoms!”
Questions for every guest: What’s one way God has used your experience of miscarriage to work in your heart and life?
If you could encourage a woman to meditate on or memorize any verse or short