I used to think my best testimony was when he did this miracle or another in me or around me. I supposed the best way to introduce people to God were stories of deliverance and divine intervention. While those are good, I’d say that if he always took all my suffering away I’d only have a testimony of a God who makes things better for us; not in itself a “bad” testimony, but one which has a shelf life… I mean that if he delivers me I’ll get to tell the story of it over and over about how he came to my rescue, and that’s good. But the intervention gets farther and farther away from the event itself at every telling and may lose more and more steam each time… But if I testify that he feels my pain and walks with me in it (though not taking it away); the testimony stays fresh and present in the telling. It doesn’t lose its strength as time elapses, because it’s always current. “I’m in pain, but he’s sustaining me today…”
In addition to it keeping my testimony fresh, it might help others want to know a God who acts this way with those he loves. If he always takes away our pain and we tell it, people might want to possess a God like that, but might not be inspired to know and love a God like that. If they hear that he delivered us, our hearers are more likely to want in on the action, get a piece of that God who can make their lives better (not only because he intervenes, but because he cares). But if they learn that he weeps with us and help us endure, the effect might be more of an advertisement for a potential Lover than simply Healer/Miracle Worker. Their attraction might be to the God who feels more than just the one who fixes things…
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6)
A woman looking for a husband might not want to limit her search to men who are general contractors who can work on the house or doctors who can treat the family sicknesses or to lawyers who can take care of her legal problems. Those things might come in the package as a bonus and be a blessing to her, but she’s going to be more inclined to find a man who loves her and to whom she can give her heart.
I wonder when we present God only as the Great Fixer if our “converts” go no further in their relationship with him than using him as such. They come to him and proceed to live for him just for the things he’ll do for them. That we have so many weak disciples (and prone to wander) might be due to the content of our testimonies of him. Is he to us the miracle working deliverer or compassionate sustainer? (Of course he’s both – but which leads us to love him deeper, and which is most likely to help others fall in love with him too?)