Pastor Bob Bjerkaas Interview 2

  • Nov. 12, 2015
  • #8749

Pastor Bob answers questions about suffering, hardship, and faith in Christ who is our strength. 

Pastor Bob Bjerkaas Interview 2

JONI: Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with my friend and pastor, Bob Bjerkaas.

Thanks for joining us again, Bob.

BOB: Well, thank you again for having me.

JONI: The last time we met, you were touching on your own disability; your vision impairment and Paul’s thorn in the flesh. But Bob, my husband and I attend this little PCA church of which you are a pastor and I know there are plenty of people in our congregation who are suffering. They are really struggling with physical hardships and I think some of them really struggle with anger against God. Now, I don’t want to cup my ear and listen in to your counseling sessions with them, but, in general, what do you say to folks like that?

BOB: Well, I actually say a lot of different things, but one at a time!

JONI: Good!

BOB: Whenever I think about suffering theologically I am aware that God has a reason behind it in His sovereignty. Sometimes it’s to teach us something – Psalm 19, “Before I was afflicted I went astray”. Sometimes it is to correct us: “You know no discipline seems pleasant,” from Hebrews Chapter 12. Sometimes it is simply to give us the privilege of filling up in our flesh, or in our bodies, the suffering of Christ like we read about in Colossians to kind of speed the day of his coming. There are a lot of different things the Bible teaches about suffering and about what we experience, kind of spiritually and emotionally while we are suffering. And trying to help people exercise a sanctified imagination to see what God could be doing here is a big part of my pastoral experience of helping them embrace the experience of suffering in a way that will honor God and help them to grow.

JONI: And I know a lot of people might not agree with me, they might not understand, but I was a pretty stiff-necked, stubborn, willful teenager and I do believe that my broken neck was part of that Hebrews, Chapter 12 discipline of the Lord. That sounds hard though, doesn’t it, in our culture?

BOB: It does, but our culture is one in which negative consequences of every time are kind of thrown off and that’s a bigger issue maybe than one radio show, but I think that we owe it to ourselves and our families, our churches, our communities to recognize that sometimes the consequences for things are a part of God’s good way of growing us to a better place than we would have found on our own. 

JONI: I love that.

BOB: One of the things that God does when He enables us to suffer is He helps us to see how strong we are in Him. You know, I have always been very encouraged in my walk by something C.S. Lewis said in his collection of essays, God on the Dock. He said, “Progress is only made into a resisting material. You are not progressing unless you are pushing.” If I were in the gym room and working out, (and I’ll share this with guys, it sort of resonates with them), we all like to think we are good at pumping iron, but you don’t know how strong you are until you can’t lift another pound. And so, when you are suffering, pushing against the burden of life, you are demonstrating to the whole world what your strength is, which is something you don’t do when life is all peaches and cream. And it’s an opportunity to show your kids, to show your wife, to show your community just how much you’ve grown and how much you’ve learned that in Christ you can do all things because it’s really His strength which is coming full circle to what you said.

JONI: Well, I know that you have a couple of Masters under your belt, and you are heading for your Doctorate. I love going to you when I have a tough question about hardship and suffering, I’m always bugging you after a sermon. I’m going to invite our listeners if they have tough questions about suffering or hardship to please address them to my pastor, Pastor Bob Bjerkaas. Just visit our radio page today at and jot down your question. Bob, would you have time to answer?

BOB: I would love that.

JONI: Good! Oh, and by the way before you go let’s grab a quick snapshot together so I can post it today on our radio page. How about it?

BOB: Wonderful!

© Joni and Friends


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