One interesting dynamic of life is the universality of what feels most personal.
Those hard feelings deep inside you that hesitate to admit? That inner wrestling you do in your quest to find peace? The pain that keeps you awake at night in bed, tossing and turning as your mind spins restlessly and relentlessly?
It is all part being of human.
God planted in us a desire to be with Him. And while He will comfort us during our time on earth, only in heaven will we feel perfect peace and happiness. Until we reach our final destination, we must learn to live with the inner voids that keep us longing for eternity and sometimes make us homesick for heaven.
In Romans 8:18, we are told that suffering is temporary, and the pain we feel today can’t compare to the joy that is coming. This promise is an anchor for the soul, a hope to cling to in dark moments and days.
But how do we deal with suffering? How do we apply the comforting truths of the Bible to the harsh realities of this world? Here are five things to remember.
1. Remember you’re not alone. Hard times feel isolating. You may think you’re the only person whose heart is in pain — but you’re not.
Everyone’s pain looks different and comes in different seasons, but we all know what it’s like to feel sad, discouraged, rejected, guilty, dismissed, angry, overlooked and forgotten by God.
Looking at social media can make you feel more alone if it appears everybody else has their act together. But like you, the people in your news feed have good days and bad days. Days they rock it and days they blow it. Days they crush life and days that life crushes them.
When you feel alone, reach out to people you trust. Remember that God reveals Himself through others, and while it’s certainly important to pray and spend time with Him, you also need community. God created us to share each other’s burdens and help carry each other through trials, and when we’re weak, we borrow the strength of others. We lean on people who are in a healthy place to experience the love and grace of God.
2. Remember God isn’t scared of your mess. Unlike humans, God’s patience is unlimited. In big and little messes, He cares, and even the worst hardships can’t turn Him off because trials are His opportunity to do His best work. His power is made perfect in weakness, and His office is at the end of your rope. Even if you’re not confident in yourself, you can be confident in Him. You can show faith by praising Him in advance for His plans and the work He can do to bring good from your struggle.
3. Remember God is good, all the time. There are many mysteries we’ll never understand on this side of heaven. I’ll never understand why babies die, why people starve, why kids lose their parents and parents lose their kids, why people are murdered and abused, and why there is so much evil, bitterness, and hatred around us.
What I do know is that God is good, God is love and God is light. While it seems at times that darkness is taking over, God will have the final word. The One in us is greater than the one in the world, and that is our ultimate security. One day, God will restore order, and those who are faithful will be rewarded in heaven.
In the Bible, there’s a story about Jesus healing a blind man. When the disciples asked if he was born blind because he had sinned, Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)
The enemy is real, and his goal is to separate us from God and make us doubt His goodness. The way to send the enemy running is to stay close with Jesus and trust God even when you don’t understand the circumstances. Armor yourself with God’s truth and wisdom, pray hard, and trust that any adversity you face can be used by God to serve a greater good. It may be important to your salvation or someones else’s salvation. There may be a bigger story at play.
4. Remember God’s miracles. The Bible is full of miracles, but one that’s particularly relevant happened to Peter. The disciples were on a boat that had been blown far away from shore when they saw Jesus walking on water toward them. They were scared and thought it was a ghost, but when Jesus told them it was Him, Peter replied, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28).
Jesus said, “Come” — and with that Peter stood up, got out of the boat and started walking on water. All was fine until Peter noticed the wind blowing against him, and suddenly he got frightened and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus reached out his hand, caught him and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Most of us are like Peter. Instead of marveling over the miracle that God’s working in our life — the fact that we can walk on water or do something we never dreamed possible — we get distracted by the wind. We take our eyes off Jesus and start to sink. As we fixate on the distractions, fear and doubt set in. We fail to notice the grace at work in our lives that will lead us to a greater love for God and a deeper faith.
God is still in the business of working miracles, but since His timing is not our timing, we must often be patient and wait for Him to act.
5. Remember joy. Henri Nouwen once said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and continue choosing it every day.”
One thing I’ve learned is that joy is worth fighting for. Some trials weigh so heavy on our hearts that they have potential to drag us down and blind us to what is good, and while we certainly need to feel grief, we aren’t meant to live in defeat. It is possible to let joy and pain co-exist, to live with hope and pray for the supernatural peace that surpasses all understanding.
Our God is a God of restoration. He can redeem hopeless situations. As we learn to run our race with eyes on the finish line — that prize of eternal life in heaven — earthly trials become bearable. We receive the grace and the second wind we need to stay strong and cling to the promise that the best is yet to come.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. Both Liked and 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know have been used widely across the U.S. for small group studies and started important conversations between mothers and daughters.
Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!
Posted by Kari on September 25, 2019