Thankful Even in Your Suffering
Is it true that you can be thankful even in your time of suffering?
Elizabeth Elliott did a series on suffering called, Suffering is Not for Nothing. She explained that love and suffering go hand-in-hand. Though suffering is unexplainable, it is confirmed.
The Lord may choose not to tell you why you are enduring this trial or what it is about. But you can be confident and put your trust in His person. He will always prove Himself and His character to you. You can rely on the fact that God is sovereign and therefore always in control.
He isn’t a malicious God who seeks to bring you pain without purpose. God’s love for you is greater than any other love you’ll ever experience. He is careful and calculated in His plans, seeking to bring grace, joy, and blessing out of your trials. His reasons are not just for your life, but for a host of other people as well. You see, He interconnects things beyond our comprehension. He knows how your suffering will help other people immediately, one year, five years, and thirty years down the road.
Think about Job from the Bible. God knew when He mentioned Job to Satan that Job would stay faithful to the Lord. How? Because God knows the very depths of every single person’s heart. He knew that Job would remain faithful and could endure the things that Satan threw at him, because God knew that Job would look to Him through it all, past his previous understanding. He wasn’t thankful for his circumstances. He was honest in his anger and hurt towards the Lord. But He trusted that God existed and somehow would redeem that which was lost.
God loved Job and valued his questions and response to Him. Though Job was raw and forthright, the Lord saw fit to canonize Job’s words into the Bible for all generations to read. That shows that Job’s responses in his suffering were important to the Lord. Yet in all Job said, he didn’t turn away from God because deep down, He knew that the Lord was sovereign and would somehow bring hope and resolution to his seemingly hopeless situation.
Richard Baxter, a hymnist and poet, once wrote, “Christ leads me through no darker rooms than He went through before.” The Lord doesn’t lead us through any suffering He hasn’t already experienced, nor does He ask us to do anything He won’t equip us to handle.
God’s love is so powerful that He chose to suffer in the worst way for all of us. He was willing in His full control and deity to endure the cross, despise shame, and experience the full weight and measure of our sin and suffering, in order to conquer death and sin so that we might be free. His love and His suffering go hand-in-hand.
Isn’t it through our suffering that we grow a deeper bond with others as well? It can be what makes or breaks a relationship, but more often, when we choose to walk alongside someone in their time of need, we experience a deeper piece of their exposed heart and are better able to understand and grow with them. This is the same with the Lord. We grow deeper with Him when we choose to endure in our suffering. He meets us much more deeply during those times. He exposes a greater understanding of Himself to us, and His love and comfort offer a healing balm for our souls.
Elizabeth Elliot said this of suffering,
“If I thank God for this very thing which is killing me, I can begin, dimly and faintly, to see it as a gift, and to realize that it is through that very thing – which is so far from being the thing I would have chosen – that God wants to teach me His way of salvation. I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will say, “Yes Lord.” I will say, “Thank You Lord.”
Though we don’t want to suffer and we cannot understand most times why we do, we can say, “Thank You, Lord,” for being the sovereign and loving God that He is. We can let go and trust that He is in control. We can look to the person and character of God and say thanks, knowing that above all else, He is all that matters.
All will be at peace one day when His children stare at His glorious face and realize the details didn’t matter. Just like Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand anything He was telling them while He lived with them. It wasn’t until He resurrected and returned to see them face to face again that they understood. It wasn’t about them knowing and understanding every detail He ever spoke. The Spirit would help them with that. It was all about the person of Jesus and the love He came to offer the world.
May you look to your Saviour, Jesus Christ, today and give thanks for who He is. It is all about Him and all for Him. He deserves the glory.