How Can I Trust in God’s Faithfulness When I’m Suffering?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison. I can’t help but remember and am depressed. I call all this to mind— therefore, I will wait. Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through...
In an earlier reflection on Lamentations 3, I asked, “What enables us to keep on trusting in God’s faithful love when our lives are stung by suffering?” Today, I’d like to consider that question with you.
To be sure, there are no easy answers to the problem of suffering. Christians believe in a loving, gracious, all-powerful God. We also affirm the reality of suffering. Thus, we are caught between affirmations that are hard to reconcile.
Moreover, it’s one thing to wrestle with the problem of suffering from a distance and quite another thing to do so when you’re in the midst of great pain. Even the best philosophical responses to the problem of pain can fail to satisfy when our bodies are aching or our hearts are breaking. I know this both from my own experience and from my years as a pastor.
I do believe, however, God has given us resources to help us when we wrestle with suffering. I will mention one of these today and pick up the discussion where I leave off on Monday.
One of the greatest resources God gives us when we suffer is the Bible. Though this book does not offer easy answers, and though it does not provide philosophical proofs, it provides insights and testimonies that guide us in our thoughts and comfort us in our lamentations. For one thing, the Bible testifies to the fact of suffering. We see this in Lamentations, of course, but also in so many other biblical books. Scripture teaches us that suffering is not imaginary, but rather an inescapable part of existence in a world broken by sin.
The Bible also affirms that suffering is not part of God’s good intentions for us. Though God can certainly use suffering for good, he did not create the world as a place of pain (see Genesis 3, Romans 8). So, we rightly sense that suffering reveals that the world is broken. And we rightly long for the day when God will wipe away every tear. In the meanwhile, those tears are an unavoidable part of our lives.
Scripture also offers words of assurance when we hurt or doubt. We rightly receive for ourselves the promise once given to Israel: “Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand” (Isa. 41:10). As Jesus said to his first disciples, so he says to us today: “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matt. 28:20).
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What helps you to understand suffering? What has helped you to remain faithful when life has been hard? What passages of Scripture have been particularly encouraging to you as you have experienced pain in life?
PRAYER: Gracious God, sometimes it is hard to believe in you, or to believe that you are a good, loving God. The problem of suffering is one of the toughest for our minds to fathom. And the experience of suffering can batter our faith like a devastating hurricane.
I thank you, Lord, for not leaving us without help...though, honestly, there are times when I wish your help was more obvious. Still, I thank you for the gift of Scripture, for the clear affirmation in your Word of the reality of suffering and your plan to ultimately abolish it. Thank you for passages that offered hope to your people long ago, even as they continue to give me hope today.
Help me, Lord, to hang on to your Word no matter what. I pray in the name of Jesus, the Word Incarnate. Amen.