Living Hope in the Midst of Suffering
Updated: Mar 30
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your soul.” - 1 Peter 1:3-9
In times of great difficulty and despair, people sometimes tell me that though their situation is overwhelming, they know God will not give them any more than they can bear, so they will press on. I disagree with this theological leaning and believe it to be a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which speaks to the matter of temptation, not difficult life circumstances. When we explore the Bible, we find people time and again in unbearable situations, trying to discern a proper course of action. Often they seek the Lord for counsel and make great efforts to take refuge in God.
Take Esther for example. Through a series of circumstances she becomes the Queen of Persia and a decision is thrust upon her that will either free the nation of Israel or determine her death and theirs as well. Certainly a hard matter to bear. We might also consider Moses. God raised him up to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land of Canaan. I cannot fathom such a dauting task. It can be quite overwhelming to just organize and lead a youth retreat to another state by which you traveled in vans, much less leading thousands of people on foot, camel, horse and the like out into a vast desert and a new land!
There are times when the flow of life is overwhelming, just in its regular patterns. There are also times when more unusual circumstances arise that can be debilitating. And I believe there are times when God himself brings situations to us that are overwhelming. In all of these, I think the correct response is, instead of soldiering on, to take shelter in the Lord. We “shelter in place” with the Almighty and are consumed with the power of God and His work within us to overcome, instead of being consumed by the situation at hand, feeling powerless to rise above it. We must recognize that we cannot manage this alone and that the only way we will get through this is by the hand of God. What a freeing place to be! How wonderful to realize, “I cannot achieve this alone. I must have God’s help.” It seems that when we arrive at that realization, we are freed up from being powerless in our situation and God is loosed to step onto the scene and do what God does…incredible things!
I imagine that you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. I am too. Life as we know it has completely shifted. Regular patterns and habits have been altered. We are in fear of getting sick, fear of dying, fear of not having the resources we may need for ourselves and others. We are afraid of what we do not yet know. The list goes on and on. Shelter in the Lord. It is my prayer, dear ones, that we would not just grin and bear it, but that we would find shelter in the Lord and recognize He may be wanting to teach us something here. He may be trying to get our attention about a matter. He may be wanting to create space for us to draw close to Him. Suffering is for but a moment. Hope in Christ is eternal! Don’t forget that. When God is at work in us, He does amazing things! So, invite Him in.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in these uncertain and anxious times, give us a new hope as we live into the days before us. Fill us with your strength and peace. Remind us how temporary life is and help us to find constancy in your presence and in our Christian hope. Amen.
Keep the Faith,