The idea that our discomfort/pain/suffering could be for our benefit is not revolutionary, but it sure stirs me up – every single time. It is easy to look at the circumstances of others and imagine what it might be like to walk in their shoes. Yet still, it is impossible to fully grasp the depth and breath of another person’s trials, or struggles. So we say “this too shall pass” and remind them that, “God does not give us more than we can bear” and yet, it all rings hollow.
The shoe is on the other foot. In the days/weeks that we are bombarded by sadness, desperation, self-pity and hopelessness there is nothing to cover the missing parts. Words are irritating, and being a social creature morphs into agony. At some point you have to step back and breathe deeply. On every side you can see all of the things that are stacked against you, and yet, you have to find a quiet place, where fear is absent from your mind. A moment to rejoice.
Room has to be left to see clearly. I have found a sweet solace in knowing that I am not abandoned. There is refining in the pain. There is a light that can shine into the dark, mismanaged crevices of your emotions.
In my most recent season of trials, with time to think and pray, I found the deep roots of ungratefulness and bitterness growing unchecked. So despite the painful nature of discipline and struggle, I was encouraged by the idea that perhaps God could make me stronger, wiser, bolder, on the other side.
After reading John Piper’s discussion of Job, and the reality of God’s omniscience, I am reminded that our hearts are fallow, and in need of God’s planting. How Should I Read the book of Job offers a complementary discussion to this. Piper reviews the unique challenge that Job’s story presents contradictions to our watered down understanding of God’s sovereignty. Piper suggests that the entire book of Job should be a prism for how we view the role of suffering and pain in the life of God’s children. It is discipline, learning and uninterrupted time with God. As we are broken, and helpless He is eager to be involved in our healing and redemption.
Our perspective must shift inward, then upward and ultimately outward. Many of the situations we find ourselves in have robust purpose. Primarily so we can impart knowledge, strength and sympathy to those around us. So keep looking, even when it hurts. Keep hoping when you’re exhausted and worn out. Continue to press in to hear God’s heart. It beats with destiny when your courage is fading. It will give you strength when those around you have nothing to offer you, and it will guide you to safety when you feel alone and misunderstood.
Read: Psalm 119
Listen to: Your Love Never Fails (Jesus Culture)
There is only one caveat. You have to listen for answers, and long for true and fulfilling comfort. Blaming others, yourself, or God is not only counter-productive it is a disservice to restoration. As well, drowning your worries and woes in mindless, and repetitive activities will only momentarily numb the pain.
Turn it over, and lay it all out. God will meet you there in the midst of it all.
I know, because He met me.