Let’s face it, everyone has problems they are dealing with. And it can be hard, very hard. Whether it be some bad news about your health, a life changing or terminal diagnosis of a child or someone very close to you. It could be behavioral issues of a small child or a rebellious teen, marital strife, loss of employment or some other financial crisis that can seriously compound and worsen any of these issues. To be sure it can happen in the seemingly safest of environments. How much more will it happen on the mission field, in a different context than your own, far from all that was once dear and familiar. Where stress and dangers are multiplied and difficulty becomes a way of life. It just comes with the territory. Our difficulties at times can be rooted in our own sin, neglect or irresponsibility. Or we could find ourselves caught in the crossfire of someone else’s sin. Or just the effects of a fallen world on those closest to us. It can still affect us deeply.
It can be enough to send someone spiraling into depression or some other unhealthy state of mind or spiritual low that feels like an inescapable dark valley of despair. During those moments God can seem distant and our prayers and groans of anguish towards heaven can even feel to us as if they go unheard. Thank God that is not the case! But if we are honest, it can feel that way sometimes. As believers we can be truly trusting the Lord through the storm, but it doesn’t always make it easier, humanly speaking. We may even find ourselves at our wits end, crying out in fear like the disciples did on the boat “Lord save us! We are going to die!”
Even though a season of peace and tranquility may be coming afterwards (maybe), at the moment, it can feel crushing and almost too much to bear. Some suffer for a for a season, some deal with it for a lifetime.
“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.” – Psalm 23:4
Many “storms” in life wreak havoc and leave a path of destruction in their wake just like actual storms. And just like an actual storm, it usually takes a long time to “rebuild” after the damage has been done. Some storms can be life changing and for some, even life ending. Many find themselves in shock and rattled to the core, left only to mourn over their situation and pick up the pieces as they move forward limping from the traumatic and hurtful experience. This happens every day to some people, for different periods of time, somewhere. We should not be surprised. We should actually learn to expect it eventually if we understand what Scripture says about the fallen nature of the world in which we live and the effects of sin as long as we live here.
God does in fact give us more than we can handle. Please don’t be one of those people who says that He doesn’t, or that He only does so because He knows we can handle it (as if were were actually so strong in and of ourselves). If we could do it on our own and in our own strength, we wouldn’t need Him. Gideon comes to mind. (And may I briefly say, the popular but often misquoted verse in 1 Corinthians does not mean what you may think it means.)
The Lord brings suffering to our lives more often than we like. But He has His reasons and we must trust Him through it. We must. Sure we can know God’s plan and will in general, but His plans for us as individuals in the details of our lives are not so easy to see or understand sometimes. God’s plans for us are often quite different from ours.
But if we find ourselves really struggling while suffering, we should ask ourselves this. When things get hard, where else can we really go? Where does our help really come from? Sure the Lord will use people as a means to comfort us and help us, but ultimately only He can give us peace. True peace. Where will we find our strength to endure other than in our Lord’s unchanging nature, faithful promises in Christ and loving care?
He is our Strong Tower, our Rock, our Shield and Fortress to which we run to for comfort, shelter and peace. Only in Christ are we truly safe and apart from Christ we can do nothing.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have what I need.- Psalm 23:1
I’m reminded of a well known modern hymn that beautifully says:
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
Beautiful moving words right? But the question is, do we believe it? Do we really believe Him? Do we really trust Him? Do we really believe that He is good? Do we really believe that He is working out all things for good for those who love Him even when we can’t see it? It is important to remember that regardless of what we believe, He will be glorified. Even through the seemingly most terrible of circumstances. But we must also remember that He is a kind, compassionate, unchanging and faithful Father and draw near to Him. We must learn to abide in Christ. His Sovereign hand and love for his people will be the pillow we rest our weary heads on.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart celebrates, and I give thanks to him with my song. – Psalm 28:7
The unchanging nature of God is an anchor that keeps us clinging to the Rock that shall never fail us or cast us out during those difficult moments, or ever for that matter if you are in Christ. As I write this many people I love come to mind. Close family members and family in the faith who are presently dealing with some of the very things I mentioned at the beginning, or even worse at this very moment. Pray for us and other missionaries close to us that know of these storms all too well. But also pray for those in your church who are suffering. A neighbor, a friend or maybe even someone in your own household.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
To them I can only say trust Him, praise Him, get alone with Him and His Word and pray. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction. The Lord is our Shepherd, we have what we need. If we persevere, we will be more like Jesus when it’s over. And believe it or not, we will even be thankful for those difficult but transforming storms in our lives. Pray.
I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.- Charles Spurgeon
Written by Antonio Salgado Jr.