When you are suffering deeply and the pain seems too much to bear, here are a few things to remember. It is easy to feel a lack of hope in the midst of a trial. You may feel sure that there is much reason for feeling despair in your present circumstances. However, it is not okay to measure the end results by your present sorrow. Earth is a poor measuring standard because it so readily gives a verdict of despair when measuring circumstances ordained for you by God.
The Suffering of Jesus
I have been studying 1 Peter in recent weeks. The deliverance from the “lusts of the Gentiles” is first and foremost a deliverance from speaking evil against those who wrongfully heap their abuse upon us. Jesus opened not his mouth. He did not revile. He did not threaten. He entrusted his case to Him who judges rightly. On scale, the abuse Jesus suffered was greater than any ever suffered. So it is a template against which we all must compare ourselves. The reasons Peter gives us for having hope are completely heavenly. It is what God has promised for eternity that makes for joy today in present misery.
There is nothing in the life and death of Christ that gives hope on its face because there was no apparent victory or accomplishment in any of it. The disillusionment of the disciples was real and their sorrow was bitter against the happy, victorious world-that-killed-him. Their disillusionment came from expectations of the earthly sort… “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21). Look how close they came and still got it wrong! Jesus was the redeemer, He was to be trusted for receiving redemption. What was wrong? It did not happen like they expected. The details were colored with human expectations, and not left blank, completely up to God. They were simply too worldly-minded, they all were hopeless because they had used a scale of earth to measure a heavenly promise. As hard as this may seem, this is what you and I are called to: Trust in the Lord with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6).
Our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth. His work in us is greater than His work in this world. However, His work in this world helps us to see His complete power and His supreme authority. He is God and there is none like Him. When the dust of this temporal world settles, we all will see that He accomplished His purposes and that no one ruined His plan. We will be full of joy where we kept the faith in the darkest hours of earth’s sorrow. Tears endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. This is His plan and there is no sorrow or terror that can compare to the eternal glory and joy that will be ours at his coming.
A Glorious Fabric!
You may be in for the long haul in terms of disappointment and sorrow. But this only tells me all the more of the great and glorious purpose He is weaving into your life by the fabric of your sorrow. If so, this greatly affects your response in the same way that facing amputation of an arm is different from pulling out a splinter from your little pinky. The latter you barely need to acknowledge in the press of daily life, the other changes every single aspect of life as you know it. No one facing amputation can improve His outlook by only looking upon the lost limb. Neither can you improve your own outlook by just focusing on the unresolved sources of pain in your life. That will only lead to destruction because of bitterness, and you will only make matters worse on earth, AND cause you to lose the joy of heaven that He has planned for you in it.
The Big Picture
In a word, it is the joy of Jesus and the promise of tomorrow that makes you immune today from loss or threat of loss. Yea, indeed you must “count all things a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ [your] Lord:… that [you] may win Christ, And be found in him, not having [your] own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That [you] may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Phil. 3:7-10).
If you will accept your lot as from your Father in heaven who loves you and only has good in mind for you, who has counted every hair on your head and so watches you so that his interests in you are never in jeopardy, though your earthly life be in jeopardy every hour…; If you will cast all of your cares upon Him because you know that He cares for you…; If you will see that you have no earthly adversary, but a devil…; who like a roaring lion seeks to devour you and yours…; If you will stand against him by standing in faith in the very trials that so sorely try you…; And if you will soberly watch your family’s circumstances so that you understand everything with a view to salvation and thus learn to pray your way through every difficultly and sorrow…
Then you will have what you ask for. Then God will earnestly turn your heart toward your children and to your home. Then you will cherish every heavenly purpose and endure every earthly sorrow with joy and hope, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in all your [Christian] brethren who are in the world. And the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)
This is your wonderful heritage in Jesus if you will have it. There is no other.
- The Weaver -
My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.