Over the thirty-eight years of being a pastor I have witnessed people go through hell on earth. How did they get through things that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy? They had one thing in common.
What Hope Is…
Hope is not wishful thinking or whistling in the dark.
Hope is a confident expectation of future good.
Where does this kind of confidence come from? Trust.
Trusting a God who understands and enters into your suffering.
Where we see a perfect mess, God sees a perfect chance to send us a message about Himself.
The Active Agent In Suffering
God may feel like a gazillion miles away. While life may feel that away, God is close. And especially to those who are brokenhearted and going through a hard time.
Jesus entered our sufferings. He enters your suffering.
The Christian theology of suffering is built around the fact that God loves us so deeply that He became like us.
God was “perfected” or “completed” in His sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 (NIV). Empathy is what we call this completion.
Jesus suffered when he was tempted so that he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:19 (NIV)
He suffered death so that he would nullify the power of death. Hebrews 2:9 (NIV)
Jesus shows that suffering is ultimately about the answer to a question God asks of you,
“Am I enough for you? Am I trustworthy?”
The God Who Is Enough
One: God is good no matter how bad life gets.
The Book of Genesis shares the story of Joseph, a 17 year old who endured unthinkable suffering. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and survived prison time in Egypt. How?
Five times in the story of Joseph we read, “God was with him.”
The narrator wants to make the point that Joseph did well, not because Joseph was good, but because God is good.
Two: God can turn evil into good.
Joseph’s personal theology of suffering helped him understand how he had gotten through the evil episodes in his life.
Twenty years after his brothers’ brutality he tells them, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”
It’s a concise, powerful statement that says, “Yes, there’s evil in the world. But there’s still a God and God can take that evil and turn it into something good.”
How God Got Diana Through
Diana was a few months into her first pregnancy when doctors informed her that, in addition to her fetus, there was something else growing inside of her – a cancerous tumor.
They advised her to undergo chemotherapy – but that would threaten the life of her baby. To wait for treatment until after her delivery date would jeopardize her own life.
She was advised to abort her baby to save her own life.
I sat with Diana and her husband Darryl in my office. This was tough stuff. We prayed. The choice for them became clear.
Diana and Darryl chose to trust God. They chose to believe that He would get them through.
The days following were a mix of peace and anxiety – that’s how trusting God can be.
Diana carried her baby to term and gave birth to a son. The celebrations were barely over when she started her chemo treatments.
Seventeen years later Diana and her son Tate are perfectly healthy and happy.
Each time I see the Cliffords, I’m reminded of how God got them through. Read their full story here.
You’ll Get Through This
Whatever your “this” is, you’ll get through it.
It won’t be painless.
It won’t be quick.
God will use your mess for good.
Don’t be foolish or naive.
With God’s help, you’ll get through this.
Remember…if you’re going through hell, keep going.
You got through this post. I wrote this to help you. Please share it with someone you know who needs hope.
Starting in October, Life Church will offer onsite and online groups called, “You’ll Get Through This.” We’ll be studying Jesus words through the insights of Max Lucado. Info to come.
Hope grows here. We share stories that inspire people, build faith, and offer lasting purpose.
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Just wonderfully put. I doubt if there is not one touched by suffering.
Hi Carole. I think you’re right about suffering. God comforts us so we can comfort others.
Suffering should be the easiest thing for Christians to write about, experience and share. After all, the cross is a symbol of suffering and spiritual victory. Unfortunately suffering, those who suffer and spiritual victories are not socially desirable, and if embrace suffering, we make religion a hard sell. Suffering is inconsistent with the healthy, happy, loving, successful, and materially victorious image that our society covets. I hope this study helps us confront our suffering, support those who suffer, and discover that God uses suffering to transform us and set us free. We need to learn to value human suffering and carry this message to those who believe the best response to suffering is suicide.
Hi Shirley. I somehow missed your comment. Thank you for sharing because I know you’ve faced a LOT in your life and you’ve come through it all with trust in the Lord. You’re an inspiration!
I wrote the first comment in February,little did I know I would feel the full force of placation just 2 months later. Still learning.
Our sufferings are so little compared to what Jesus had to suffer. He promised that he will only give us as much as we can handle. I’m trusting him in whatever comes my way. He is our redeemer☺