Sunday, July 17, 2016
Help When We’re Hurting
As we hear the daily news, it seems that trouble is on every hand – violence, death, wars, civil strife. In our personal lives, we are all afflicted by suffering through loss of a loved one, sickness, pain, or disability, if not ourselves directly, then a family member or friend.
Over the past week and today, our pastor has appropriately been addressing the subject of trouble from a Biblical perspective, and I was inspired by this to repost this lesson from the archives. Praying for all readers to find comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ, a mighty Fortress from the storms of life.
When we first become born-again believers by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we may feel overwhelming relief as He lifts the tremendous burden of sin from our shoulders. But as the days or years pass and our initial euphoria subsides, we may feel disappointed that being Christian does not mean that our problems are over.
Far from it, for Satan targets not only the newly saved believer but particularly mature leaders who are being most productive for God, and everyone in between (1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:8). God’s Word counsels us to put on the whole armor of God to ward off the attacks of the devil (Ephesians 6:11-18).
No matter how faithful we are to do this, Christians as well as the unsaved can expect the shadow and sorrow of physical death and of all the heartache in this world, for all still experience the curse of sin during our earthly life (Romans 3:23-24; Genesis 3:16-19).
And yet, praise God, believers have Christ to comfort, heal and deliver us (Psalm 25:12-20; 42; 56:1-4,13; 116:3-9; 62:5-8; 68:20; Proverbs 24:11-12; Isaiah 38:17; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). I don’t know how those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus can endure the pain and sadness of this world. Comparing my own emotional life before and after I was saved, from despair and turmoil to joy and peace in the Lord reminds me of this. And yet, no life is free of earthly cares.
Sometimes believers may think that admitting our discouragement, pain, or distress may be disloyal to our Savior, as if we are being ungrateful for the tremendous price He has paid to free us from the punishment for our sins and to give us eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
The truth is that all Christians hurt from time to time, and yet we have Jesus to help us always, in all circumstances and dangers (Isaiah 43:2). He is the Friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and Who never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8; Hebrews 13:5). He alone can heal us physically and emotionally (Jeremiah 17:14), give us hope (Psalm 62:5), restore the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:12) and empower us to live holy lives (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Every born-again believer should also have a trusted brother or sister in Christ as a mentor and/or confidante (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Proverbs 15:22; 20:5; 27:17), as well as the loving support of a church family (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
Although a Bible-preaching, Christ-centered church and Christian friends are invaluable, they may not be available to all believers, and even these suffer from imperfections resulting from our sin nature. Too often we hear of church leaders who lose their testimony and their ability to counsel others effectively when their own sins or burdens interfere with their ministry. Even Paul, chosen by Christ to deliver the Gospel to the Gentiles, to plant churches, and to write 14 books of the Bible, was concerned that he could lose his usefulness to God and his ministry put on the shelf (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Our former (late) Pastor used to say that man will always let you down, but that God will never let you down! (Proverbs 29:25-26) Praise God for His faithfulness! When we suffer, there may be times, circumstances, and people best served by our silence (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7), as complaining or admission of sinful thoughts or acts could actually be a stumbling block and discourage others from their Christian walk, ministry and obedience (Romans 14:13; 15:1; 1 Corinthians 8:9).
But praise God, He is available 24/7, not only willing but actively seeking us to tell Him our troubles, confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and lay our burdens at the foot of His cross. We can boldly approach His throne in prayer knowing that He not only hears us (Psalm 17:6-7), but that He has compassion on us because He has experienced every human grief, yet without sinning Hebrews 4:15-16). When believers pray to Him in despair, He listens, encourages us, and answers us (Psalm 10:17; 102:17). If we trust in Him with all our heart, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Not only does He love us infinitely and permanently (Romans 8:37-39), but He has the infinite power and wisdom to do what is best for us. Think about what that means – His perfect love means that He desires to do what is best for each of us (Luke 11:9-13), and His complete knowledge and power (Psalm 147:5) means that He can accomplish exactly that.
So why are we sometimes disappointed with what we perceive as Him ignoring our prayers, refusing our well-intentioned requests, and allowing trials in our life? His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and He sees the total picture while we clutch desperately to one tiny piece of the puzzle. God does not tempt us with evil (James 1:13), yet He may allow us to suffer for one of several reasons, as we shall discuss next week.
Praise God that He turns our despair and confusion into joy and peace, if not always in this world, then completely and eternally in Heaven!
© 2016 Laurie Collett