“Regardless of what your story holds, at some point you’ve likely bumped up against the brokenness of this life. In a world ransacked by sin and tainted by the fall, there are countless things that could bring you to your knees—maybe even to the brink of despair.
This reality is true for everyone who walks this earth. But as Christians we are called to approach our suffering differently. Not naively, turning away from suffering or ignoring its presence; but also not indulgently, wallowing in grief and following its spiral to despair.
Rather, as Christians, we have access to a particular kind of worship: it’s called lament.”
“Sometimes as believers, we fear that our doubts and our grief might distance us from the Lord. We are afraid that the Lord will be disappointed with us because of our wavering or our despondency.
But, child of God, lean in and listen to this graceful truth: the beautiful truth is that fear is not contrary to faith, and lament is not contrary to praise. Praise does not have to be glad and joyful. Your worship can be sorrowful and desperate and beseeching and still be beautiful worship to the Lord. In this psalm, David is worshiping the Lord by clinging to Him with everything he has. He is still in the depths of the valley when he begs his soul to “hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” ”
Suffering and Sanctification
“Oftentimes the growth that suffering produces isn’t seen quickly. Sometimes it is stretched over the span of months, or even years. It is in these seasons though that, unbeknownst to us, God is growing in us long-suffering, patience, and deep trust. It’s uncomfortable. It’s frustrating. It’s scary. But somehow suffering serves to sanctify us—exposing our sin, growing our trust, and deepening our love of God.
Often, when we’re comfortable, we become blind to the sanctifying work that the Lord needs to do in our hearts. We think that we’re okay, that we’ve got a hold on our faith, that we are fully trusting the Lord in every area. But it seems (at least in my life), that God grows our faith and trust in Him more when we are uncomfortable and dissatisfied with our circumstances. It seems that it is in those seasons that He draws us near. It is in those seasons of suffering that we experience an intimacy with the Lord unlike anything else.“
“In the depths of that grief I cried out to the Lord, asking Him to remember me, to hold me, to be near me, and, over and over again, to answer my prayer (because oh, isn’t a prayer for a baby such a good prayer? Wouldn’t He delight in answering it?). You see, I didn’t understand how to lament to God. I didn’t understand how to grieve while at the same time trusting that God was working out of kindness and using this for good. I didn’t yet see that my grief, my cries, and my laments could be the very pathway to hope.“
“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
This prayer slipped through the lips of the Messiah as he bore the most excruciating suffering anyone has experienced: utter separation from God. I am silenced when I realize his suffering was far weightier than my own. Moreso, I realize that when these words slipped past the blood-stained lips of the Christ, he was the only one who was honestly able to say them.
Jesus is truly one who knows what it feels like to be desperately alone in the midst of his suffering.”
“Like a blister acquired from a too-tight shoe, the difficulties of life squeeze and hurt us, but after days, weeks, months, and years of continued friction, the callous develops. The skin grows stronger. We are more and more able to withstand.
By his mercy, in this continual stretching and failing and wrestling and growing, we are pushed to trust God more. We are reminded that in all things, in both the hope and the grief, God is good. We learn to hold in tension the brokenness and the joy, the disappointment and the hope, the hard and the good.“
“Does all this suffering even mean anything?
I know I’m not the only one who asks this question. I’ve heard the question from friends wrestling with the repercussions of childhood trauma, from family members questioning why innocent children die, from women suffering daily from chronic illness, from couples struggling with infertility.
You’ve probably heard the question echo around your own mind as you wade through the brokenness of the world.It’s a haunting and heavy question: Does all this suffering even mean anything?”
“It is only when I truly see the depth of my darkness that I am pressed deeper into Christ. It is only when I admit my shortcoming that I am reminded of his character—his grace and goodness and surpassing worth. It is when we truly acknowledge our imperfections that we are invited into the abundant grace of God.
We can find joy knowing that our Father does not look for moral competency—for crossed “t’s” and dotted “i’s” and straight-line walking. Instead, he takes our imperfections and sins, he lovingly deals with them on the cross, and he promises to walk with us as we seek to follow him and know him more.”
“As I consider my own treasured desires and dreams, my heart longs for God to tell me I can keep them. That I can wrap them up in my hands and hold them tightly. That I can rest can be assured these hopes will come to pass. That these gifts will stay in my hands forever.
But is that ever promised?
Has God promised to keep me safe? To keep my reputation clear and untarnished? Has he promised me children and a home and financial stability? Has he promised to make my hopes and dreams come to fruition?”
“Discipleship. It’s a word we throw around in the church, and it’s a word that’s not explicitly used in the Bible. We do find the word“disciple” in Scripture—a noun that means learner, pupil, or follower. Jesus uses this word to describe his followers—those who learn from him, walk closely with him, and obey his teachings.
We also find the phrase“make disciples”—a verb phrase that is found in the Great Commission where Christ’s disciples (and all his followers from that moment on) were told to preach the gospel, baptize new believers, and teach them to observe the commands of God.
But what is discipleship?”
“In this life, it is easy to trust in the tangible—the things we can see. We see our paycheck come into our bank account. We see how much cash we have in our wallet. We see the way a friend or family member comes through to meet a financial need just in time.
What we cannot see is the invisible hand of God that is holding the world together and sustaining our very lives. We don’t see the ways he works in the background to provide for us day after day. We don’t see how he specifically orchestrates every detail of our lives.
Money is a tangible provision we can see. It is necessary to live. But how quick are we to trust in this tangible provision instead of trusting in the Provider who can truly meet our every spiritual need?”
“As we meet others in their desperate need and invite them into our family, we are able to model Christ, who met us in our depraved and sinful state and invited us into the family of God. As you offer this kind of hospitality to “poor” and “underserving” people, you are able to recall that “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1-5).
As you invite those who are different from you into your community and family, you are ushered into remembrance that you once were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12-13).“