Let not sorrow dim your eye, Soon shall every tear be dry.
Let not fears your course impede, Great your strength, if great your need.
Lyrics: Oft in Sorrow
Whatever hardship or suffering you are going through, it is specifically designed to point you to Jesus, to help you and prompt you to worship him in a manner that not only does he deserve, but in a manner specifically befitting that which flows out of your specific suffering; and in a manner that was never otherwise possible but for your suffering.
Agree? Why or why not?
Like David or Jesus, when we are most desperate for God, we do what he did – cry out to God. Because of what Christ accomplished on the cross, we can rest assured he answers us from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:4, Matt 15:34)
What if the aim of our efforts in the course of suffering and difficulties is driven less by where can I find relief and more, where can I find Christ?
How will this question, when properly framed in our hearts and minds, help you respond to your own suffering?
APPARENT SILENCE FROM GOD
Perhaps one hole to poke in my question will go something like this.
Edward, I’ve done this. I believe your proposition, and yet when I go to God, when I cry aloud, when I seek Christ, I don’t hear anything. I hear nothing but silence. Explain that to me.
One response goes something like this:
“For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back…” Isaiah 42:14
When God speaks, he speaks to us from his Word. If we want to hear from him, we must go to his Word.
Are you in His Word?
When we cry aloud, as we should, our consolation is not in a Moses-on-the-mountain-moment or mount of transfiguration experience.
Rather, sometimes, in our suffering, we must learn to listen to the apparent silence of God so that we can examine our expectations of what we believe God is “supposed” to do in response to our pain.Tweet
God has the prerogative of silence, but we must also always realize, he has already spoken. He will not speak anything new. Rather, he will, by his Spirit, use his Word to cause you to hear what is he saying to you in your pain.
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4
If we don’t believe his Word gives life, then we will inevitably find disappointment with God when suffering arises. Our true, lasting and firm hope in the face of suffering is his living and active Word. (Hebrews 4:12)
A BATTLE TO THE END
I believe because of the reality of the presence of sin in the world and in us, the battle to take this counsel to heart will be life long. So I am not suggesting this is easy by any stretch, or that it is a smooth journey from one moment to the next.
In fact, when facing my own bout of suffering, and seeing my wife ready to perish from sickness on many occasions, I felt, intensely so, the waxing and waning of my own feeble faith and my unbelief in the sufficiency of God’s word.
So often I am content with bread crumbs; namely, the words of world or the words of own flesh.
So often at the slightest whiff of relief from pain, I can almost immediately forget what I need and Who it is I just called upon. I am even adept at rattling off the Christian platitudes.
I think bearing with this question of where is God is a question we will wrestle with throughout our faith journey until we die. In part because of our own proneness to weakness of faith, but also in part because of the work that God is doing.
If you are his child, you can rest assured that he desires your good well-being infinitely more than you do for yourself, and he knows what awaits you on the other side of the sun. Jesus is preparing a place for those who are his (John 14:2-3), and the Father will not delay in granting us access to his Kingdom whenever and however he wishes (Habakkuk 2:3; Hebrews 10:37).
Remember, if you are in Christ, death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.Tweet
Let your drooping hearts be glad. March in heavenly armor clad.Oft in Sorrow by Henry White and Frances Fuller-Maitland
Fight, nor think the battle long. Victory soon shall be your song.
Because of the suffering of Christ, who suffered perfectly, we can take comfort knowing that though the battle wages to the bitter end, we already have victory (1 John 5:4) through Jesus Christ because are in Christ (Galatians 3:26).