As we begin this trek through the pain and suffering we are entrenched in, I want us to hold onto Isaiah 43:2 tightly:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”Isaiah 43:2
May these words be a constant daily reminder for us no matter what it is we are walking through, our God is in control, he loves us, and he will use it for his glory.
Trusting God in Our Suffering
“God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not be afraid,Psalm 46:1-3 CSB
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though its water roars and foams
and the mountains quake with its turmoil.”
When we trust God in the midst of our pain, we have our refuge indeed. In Psalm 118:5-6, the psalmist David says this: “I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place.The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?” (CSB). David was in distress, and he called upon the Lord, who placed him in a spacious place—a place he could stand securely knowing that God would always remain faithful in the midst of pain and suffering that he was enduring. David was not saying that he would not suffer, but that he would not fear suffering because he wholeheartedly trusted that the Lord was for him.
In the midst of our pain, God asks us to do one very important thing and it is this: “Trust me.”
I write these words as a sojourner in the midst of a wilderness that brings me to my knees daily. I find myself in a constant, desperate need for God in everyday moments. After walking through years of waiting for answers and infertility, we had our son at 23 weeks. Our lives changed in an instant and our trek pivoted time and time again as we walked through, and continue to walk through, challenging moments—from life-altering diagnoses and learning the ins and outs of the disabilities he lives with. In the midst of this, and so many other battles along the way, God was there, shaping us and revealing himself to us.
When we lost two babies, when our marriage was propelled into relying solely on God, as we spend our days discipling our children in the everyday moments, through the various hills, valleys, and mountains of special needs, I can say with certainty, that God is surely in this place. I want you to believe that with everything in you, too. I want you to know wherever you might find yourself, God is in that place with you. His ways are greater than ours.
Our God is not asking us to cling to the ways of the world; he is asking us to cling to him. The world would have us believe that desolation surrounds us in the wilderness, but really, we are surrounded by God’s infinite presence. God asks us to trust him and assures us that he will be with us in all of it.
Psalm 23:4 tells us, “Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me” (CSB).
Even though we may be walking through the dark valley or the unknown terrain, God is our peace. It is in this dark valley, these places that are desolate, that our God reveals himself in ways we could not have known him otherwise. I know there have been many times in my life that I begged God to avoid a certain trial, teaching, or valley, and he has taught me step by step that I just need to trust him, to call upon him to give me the strength I need and instill in me a dependent heart fully trusting in his plan, his path, and his pace as I make my way through. We shall fear no evil for his rod and his staff are our comfort. We will see him in the midst of this pain, and we will be able to rest in the knowledge of who our God is over any of the circumstances we are in.
God’s Glory in Our Suffering
“Though the fig tree does not budHabakkuk 3:17-18 CSB
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though the flocks disappear from the pen
and there are no herds in the stalls,
yet I will celebrate in the LORD;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”
Habakkuk remembers that the Babylonians are coming. He has a vision of the Judean countryside and sees the desolate conditions up ahead. Yet he finds himself proclaiming the goodness and mighty power of the Lord.
You see, Habakkuk’s strength was not found in the fig trees, or the vines, or the crops, or the fields, or the flocks— he was dependent on God, and his faith in God compelled him to draw strength from God.
God is our sufficiency in the pain and in the suffering.
God is not diminished in desolation.
As soil dries, roots grow deeper to find a water source. In extreme conditions, the roots draw closer to what will ultimately sustain them. As we grow deeper roots in him in our extreme conditions, our intake of him fulfills and sustains us. In the midst of our pain and suffering God is asking us to trust him—he needs us to trust him and to believe the truth that this pain and suffering will never be wasted. His glory is in it, and he is using it all for his glory according to his plans.
At some point in our lives—perhaps time and time again—we will find ourselves trekking through pain and suffering. Maybe you find yourself there at this present moment. Maybe you have been in it for a long time. Wherever you are now, you will come face to face with the question of “why” somewhere along the way. When we come to know God in all the suffering we are enduring, we will come to learn not the answer to “why” but the answer of who. When we trust God in the midst of our pain he will reveal himself to us, we will see that he is the one who goes before us. I don’t know the depths of your pain, or why you are suffering, I won’t ever be able to say that I know exactly how you are feeling, but what I do know is the one who does—our Father. He is in the midst of it with you. May we cling to him, never doubting his existence right alongside us, knowing his strength in whatever the conditions around us appear to be, returning to the sustaining source, and in the midst of it all, rejoicing in the Lord for he is still good.
The condition of the terrain never stops him. Instead it forms the avenue where we encounter him. His presence will never depart. His Word prepares the way for us to press into the path of his truth.
What if when we felt the heaviness and the weariness of our pain and suffering, we praised him, we called out to him, and brought it all to the feet of Jesus?
When we dwell with God, entrusting ourselves to him, we gain an eternal perspective in our suffering to see that in the stretching and refining caused by our suffering is growing us in our faith.We are propelled into a faith that does not waver and solely depends on him, for it is all by his grace and all for his glory. We trust, leaning not onto our own understanding, but on his, because what he wants to show and teach us is far greater than anything the world uses to distract us.
As I find myself in this trek, making my way to the places he needs to refine, heal, and restore, he reminds me that faith that goes forward is victorious because it seeks him, it gives him the glory, and it yields so that he can make known his goodness.
God doesn’t want us to miss the display of his glory in the trials. God is revealing himself in it. God never promises following Jesus will be without pain, suffering, or trials, however these difficulties won’t ever compare to the eternal joy we will one day have in his kingdom.
Surrendering to God in our Pain
When we trust God in the midst of our pain we give ourselves fully to him. In our surrender we come to know that we belong to him.
When we trust God in the midst of our pain, when suffering is taking a hold of us, he shows us that this suffering is never wasted. His glory is in it. When we trust God in the midst of our pain we grow in the knowledge of him, we fully surrender it all to him, we take up our cross, and we follow him; we lay aside our ways and we put ourselves at the disposal of God. It is in this obedience of taking up our cross and following him that we are trusting that God knows what he is doing. In fact, for much of the pain we trek through, we might not ever understand fully, but he will draw us in closer.
Galatians 2:19-21 tells us, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (CSB).
When the angel Gabriel came to tell Mary that she would conceive a child who would be Jesus, the Son of God, she asked the angel “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). After the angel explained, we see in Luke 1:38, her immediate response was that of full surrender: “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’”
In our flesh, we often feel like surrendering means that we are giving up control, giving up power, and giving up freedom, But in Christ, we find true freedom when we surrender to his design—a freedom that can only come from the Lord because it is solely dependent on the price he paid for us on the cross. Our perspective of who we belong to must rest in the truth that we are children of God; we are not our own, but his.
When Our Peace Is Found in Him Alone
When we trust God in the midst of our pain we find peace that can only be found in him. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This pain and suffering is never wasted and through a relentless pursuit of him in it all, we will catch glimpses of his glory, we will be propelled into his arms. Our pursuit of him presses us to know him deeply, and that means we don’t have to seek the why in our circumstances, but WHO, because his goodness is steadfast—in all of it we seek him, to know him more, to encounter his presence.
We are forged in the fires. Our tenacity in Christ yields the fullness of his fruit. What our eyes are fixed on is what will lead the way forth. What our heart is set on determines the path of the trail. What our mind focuses on is what we will pursue. Our deep need for him is revealed in the midst of our pain. The way forth is led by him alone. The path of the trail is set to His ways.The pursuit progresses by faith in him.
Reflect and Respond
Consider the following what-if questions. How could changing how we respond to suffering change our perspective?
- What if our first response was prayer?
- What if we were moved by eternity above all else?
- What if his presence outweighs the travail?
- What if we looked at it through a lens of faith instead of unbelief?
- What if we plunged right into his promises found in his Word?
- What if we put our hope and trust in him over the conditions?
- What if we rested in the knowledge of who he is?
A Prayer to Pray
You are walking in the midst of it all with me. Remove all doubt and weariness from my mind. Help me to see the evidence of your presence, and to have faith in your promises. I am sticking with you, I will not let go, I have no good apart from you. I have set you always before me, I will not be moved. I will not be afraid to ask you for help. I reach out my hand to you, knowing that your way is the way towards your glory. It is in your presence that the fullness of joy overflows. Let’s keep going, God. Amen.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter
Jennifer is a wife, mama, author, Bible teacher, speaker, and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus. You can find her enjoying a cozy cup of coffee with a book and journal in hand, soaking in all the adventures of homeschooling, and exploring the mountains of Colorado with her husband, Jonathan, and their two children. She truly loves to share God’s goodness in his plan, his path, and his pace no matter the terrain, and pointing people to him through her online ministry and local community.