Hope Discovery of the Day:
God’s love is greater than our pain.
Scripture of the Day:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world 16 by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”
“For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.”
I know some of you might be bugged by verse 14, above: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. Our flesh does not like when things don’t go our way or when we have to suffer. It just does not seem fair and we expected so much more. If everything is to be done without grumbling or complaining, what then, should be our response? And HOW do we not complain when life hurts? It feels insincere at first blush, unnatural; that is because it is a supernatural response that God alone can do through us.
I woke up this morning in a hospital room, or rather, I barely slept a wink last night watching over my daughter who is quite ill. We had just experienced a spiritual high of seeing God meet her needs when she was suffering on a recent mission trip, only to end up in a similar predicament a week later.
My response surprised me. If I had not walked through other very painful situations in the past, I would not have been equipped to handle this one, nor would my daughter be. But God. our amazing God.
Rather than doubting God’s purposes in this, all I could do was praise Him and ask for strength to do this mission He has us on now. This was God’s grace alone. I told my daughter I would rather take this from her than watch her suffer. It just hurts so much. She said, “No, Mom. This is mine.”
She could not take my deepest sorrow, nor could I take hers. It is her burden to bear in this moment and I cannot take her pain, I cannot do anything other than watch, pray and try to serve her in whatever way possible to ease her pain. This feeling of desperation is painful, too. No mother wants to watch her child suffer and not be able to fix it and God the Father hurt deeply to watch His Son suffer, too, on our behalf.
Each of our children has to carry their own burdens to the throne of our Heavenly Father and ask Him for wisdom and help in their trials. It’s what a relationship with God is all about. We cannot do it for them, but we can “hold up their arms” like Aaron and Hur did for Moses, while they fight through their pain. Our Father sees our children in their suffering and cares more deeply for them than we ever could. This is hard to fathom as a parent, but our loving God knows the hairs on their head and every burden in their heart before they speak them. He is not absent while they suffer, but holding them in His arms.
So, how do we develop this perspective of hope in pain? How do we not acquiesce to the demands of the flesh insisting and instead trust in God at all times and rejoice in His purposes even when His will seems cloudy?
This morning, this is what He led me to do:
Holding onto God’s Word.
RUN, do not walk, to God’s word. Cry out and don’t let yourself give in when life gets tough. We are able to be victorious in our struggles without complaint IF we hold onto God’s word. Search God’s word for answers and don’t let the enemy deceive you when life is hard. When we look to God’s word for answers, something supernatural happens; His promises come alive and He enables us to live out His truth. Lies are defused that threaten to snuff out hope as we enter to His presence.
The enemy whispers that it is just a religious duty and boring to read God’s word. That is a lie! God’s word is a light and our salvation. A daily habit of seeking God in His word is not optional – it is our very life. It is our hope to hold onto – a life preserver when we are sinking in a massive mire of mud. Amazingly God uses where we are at in His word and weaves it into our present circumstances.
When we suffer or have to watch those we love suffer, despair can begin to enter our hearts. Instead of an attitude filled with grumbling or anger, we can have sincere gratitude when we consider what God has done for us. I am not just saying to grin and bear it, here, or to fake joy. God’s grace is so much better than that. Thinking on His provision in the pain might be easy to miss when life screams out “pain”. Pain can get our attention a lot better than God’s provision which is lovingly supplied daily, but often taken for granted. But choosing to reflect on His kindnesses in our lives helps us to turn our focus toward God’s faithfulness instead of this world’s uncertainty. Getting the embers of hope glowing, we start a spark that begins to fuel something greater than just trying to make it through tough times.
When we suffer, our mind tends to focus on self. Once again, this is natural. But there is a mystery hidden in denying self and considering other’s needs above our own. Suddenly, the walls are no longer closing in on us as we contemplate our doom. Instead, we begin to think about the people around us. The nurses serving us – do they know God? Is that why we are here? How can we demonstrate God’s power in our response to pain? Will we shine God’s love and introduce them to our Savior? How can we make their job easier while also trying to make sure we get the care we need?
Romans 8:18, above just makes my heart sing with delight in God’s goodness and promises. What we are going through now is enlarged in our eyes. We get tunnel vision and it is hard to see tomorrow. But God is already there and beyond. He will bring us through our suffering and use our present sufferings for His glory and our good. What hope!
We might not appreciate the method of life’s lessons when pain is involved, but God’s love is greater than our pain. And pain, which seems so cruel and harsh on the exterior, is a catalyst which propels us to grow closer to our great God.
I want to close today’s blog with two songs that helped me greatly in a time when I was hospitalized for 9 days; “Not Alone” and “Holding On” by Jamie Grace. One line in the song, “Not Alone”, in particular, gave me courage to face my pain and go through it, rather than to avoid it – “You may feel pain, but not as great as His Name”. His Name holds in it everything we need in Christ Jesus to live this life victoriously. He cares deeply about our suffering and He is enough.
Oh God, someone reading this post today needs to be able to hold onto your hope. Please give them strength and hope that rises above their circumstances. Help them to trust You in the face of pain and to walk through the pain to find You on the other side.