This past week many have suffered in great agony and despair. During times like these we are tempted to wallow in self-pity, bitterness, and even shout out at God.
But let’s not get stuck there. Despite all the despair, let us look into the face of our Heavenly Father and Son, Jesus Christ. May we cling to His eternal love, presence, and be thankful.
Christians are not exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. “But Scripture does teach that Christians can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”Billy Graham
What is the biblical response to suffering?
“Scripture tells us that Jesus “learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
Is it possible to look beyond our circumstances to see what God is trying to teach us?
Instead of merely asking for relief from our suffering, may we have the courage to learn from it (Christian Worker Handbook).
Through Jesus’ crucifixion, we have learned that death is not final. Christ leads us to victory through our suffering.
May we be faithful in adversity, remembering that God can work all things together for good and that we may be sharing in “the fellowship of his sufferings.”
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are encountering the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.Philippians 1: 29
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you”Isaiah 43:2
The Lord Sees All
You were not created to be oppressed. You were created to be a servant of God.
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the affliction of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I am aware of their sufferings. I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen how severely the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Exodus 3: 7 – 9
If you are an unbeliever, the Lord hears you. He can set you free from sin.
If you are a believer who is still living as a slave, the Lord hears your cries. He continues to reveal the path to freedom.
“Both Christians and non-Christians need the saving life of God to liberate them and keep them free.”Jill Briscoe
When God saw the incredible cruelty His people were experiencing, He showed up. He worked in the heart of Moses who He used to save them from Pharaoh.
The LORD sees the affliction of His people in America, Africa, or where ever else on this globe they reside. God hears the cries of his people and He is aware of our sufferings. He came down through Christ to rescue us and to bring us to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
The cries of His people are reaching Him today and He sees the severity of oppression that exists in our world.
“Whatever mystery surrounds God’s ways at present, he will one day make it plain by exacting a terrible retribution for all wrongs done to the defence-less (Psalm 12:5).J. Orr
The LORD replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.”Psalm 12:5
God Comforts His People
God comforts the oppressed and heartbroken. Not one of their tears falls to the ground without the Lord knowing.
While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Hebrews 5:7
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him and was designated by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5: 8 – 10
God is deeply interested in His people, He knows their sorrows.
For He said, “They are surely My people,
sons who will not be disloyal.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their distress, He too was afflicted,
and the Angel of His Presence saved them.
In His love and compassion He redeemed them;
He lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old. Isaiah 63: 8 – 9.
Warning to those who Grieve God
But they rebelled
and grieved His Holy Spirit.
So He turned and became their enemy,
and He Himself fought against them. Isaiah 63:10
God Delivers the Oppressed
Because we all are afflicted are oppressed by the Devil. God sent His own son, Jesus Christ, so that we will not perish but have everlasting life.
God is preparing our hearts, minds, and souls for salvation.
“Let us pour out our prayers, and leave them with God. If they fall within His gracious covenant of salvation, they will receive the answer in due time, and as quickly as it is possible for us to receive and bear it.”G. F. Pentecost D.D.
God’s Message to Us
The Lord is compassionate and merciful. Through His love and grace, he offers us salvation.
Christ himself came down to us in order to save us. It is one thing to know that God is eternal and powerful and quite another to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Jesus helps us step out of bondage of sin and into peace and joy.
But Jesus knows the sorrow to which His people are exposed each and every day.
Through it all Jesus sustains us.
He sees us in our trials and when we call out to Him, He walks beside us every step of the way. It is important for us to make our sorrows known to Him through prayer!
Questions to ask Him during our prayer time:
- What are you trying to teach me?
- What steps should I take?
God Will Deliver His People from Sorrow
This is still true even for those who have been suffering for what seems like a long time to us. God is eternal and some day we will look back and see our sorrow was not as long as our everlasting life will be.
“Heaven is the goal, and God is with us all the way.”J. C. McLachlan, M. A.
“As God knew His people’s sorrows then, so He knows ours now, however infinitely various they may be — however great, however small-whether of body, mind, or soul. The Lord Jesus knows by experience, toil, fatigue, pain, weeping, anxiety, desolation.”S.P.C.K. Sermons
The LORD himself provides Comfort
The Lord already knows your sorrow, but wishes to comfort you when you lay all the intimate details at his feet through prayer.
Although it may seem like the Lord is taking a long time to comfort us, His timing is perfect. He knows the perfect time for all things.
Through afflictions God purifies our faith. How we choose to suffer as Christians can encourage and strengthen others who are also suffering from sorrow. During our own suffering we can glorify God.
In a time when people were waging war and people were fearful. The Lord spoke to Isaiah, “Calm down and be quiet. Do not be afraid or disheartened over these two smoldering stubs of firewood—over the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.” Isaiah 7: 4
Last week, my own heart was churning with great sorrow, anguish, and anger over injustice in the world. But the Lord’s words to Isaiah spoke to me. Remain calm, quiet your voice, and do not be afraid.
In times of sorrow, we still have confidence in the Lord.
“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”Jeremiah 17:7
Brothers, as an example of patience in affliction, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. See how blessed we consider those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.James 5: 10 – 11
Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Colossians 2: 6 – 7
Scripture to Use During Our Prayers
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:28 – 29 ESV)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37)
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness..Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1: 2-3, 12, ESV).
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferrings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter…Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:16, 19)
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