How is a Christian to grieve honestly while also hoping deeply? When lifes losses and crosses come our way, what does it feel like and look like to suffer well? In this post and others (Part 1) to follow, we ponder how to find hope when youre hurting.
A Personal Journey with a Personal God
Moving through hurt to hope is a journeya personal journey. Finding Gods healing for lifes losses is a trek, a messy trail with far more detours than we would ever wish.
Thats why Im not promising you eight easy steps. However, as we journey together, I will offer you eight biblical markers on your personal healing journey. As you begin exploring these trail markers for lifes trials, youll experience the ups and the downs, the hills and the valleys, the zigs and the zags.
View these markers as your personal suffering GPS: Gods Positioning Scripture derived from Gods Word. Nothing ever written can compare with the honesty and reality of the Word of God. It is totally sufficient to light our path. It is utterly profound in its capacity to resonate with our experiences.
The various stages well explore in the grief journey provide compass points in Gods process for hurting and hoping. They empower us not to evade suffering, but to face suffering face-to-face with God.
A Crisis of Faith
When tragedy occurs, we enter a crisis of faith. We either move toward God or away from God. Well probe how to move in the direction of finding God in the midst of our suffering.
The end in sight is not quick answers through easy steps. Our goal is deep healing through a personal journey . . . with God, in Christ. He never lets you walk alone.
Grief tends to tempt us to walk alone. Fight against that temptation. Walk with God and His people as you journey on the healing path.
The Lesson Plan of Suffering
The Apostle Paul teaches us sufferings lesson plan. Suffering and death are meant to teach us our need again.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).
In suffering, God is not getting back at you; He is getting you back to Himself. The actual experience of dying persuades the little god that he is finite after all. When Paul felt the sentence of death, he understood that his only hope was the dead-raising God.
Suffering opens our hands to God. It was Augustine who declared, God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are fullthere is nowhere for Him to put it.
Moses taught the same truth in the passage Jesus quoted during His temptation. Why does God allow us to endure desert wanderings? According to Deuteronomy 8 and Matthew 4, it is to humble us, teaching us how desperately needy we are.
God loves us too much to allow us to forget our neediness. God makes therapeutic use of our suffering. Martin Luther taught that suffering creates in the child of God a delicious despair. Suffering is Gods putrid tasting medicine of choice resulting in delicious healing.
Healing medicine for what? For our ultimate sicknessthe arrogance that we do not need God. Suffering causes us to groan for home and to live in hope. The author of Hebrews, surveying the landscape of Old Testament journeys, shows us the way home.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better countrya heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (Hebrews 11:13-16).
God refuses to allow us to get too comfy here. Instead, He allows sufferingdaily casket processionalsto blacken our sun so we cry out to His Son. Suffering reminds us that were not home yet.
The Rest of the Story
Satan plots an altogether different strategy. We learn about his scheme and how to defeat it in our next post.
Join the Conversation
How has Gods Word been a GPS for you in your suffering? What lessons are you learning from suffering?
Note: Excerpted from Gods Healing for Lifes Losses: How to Find Hope When Youre Hurting.