We all have stressful and difficult circumstances. If God is love, then why do Christians still suffer?
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
According to the word in James, the trials we face are there in order to test our faith and produce steadfastness, persevering and trusting completely in the Lord, for He is in total control and is not trying to cause you pain but to provide you with Himself to help you through the pain. We can “count it all joy” as we hold onto our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the words of Scotty Smith:
“Father, you don’t say to us “if” we pass through deep waters and rushing rivers, but “when” we do so, you will be with us. Thank you for being upfront about life between the resurrection and return of Jesus. There will be difficult seasons in this life, but you are just as sovereign over our sorrows as our joys.”
In the flesh, it is so difficult when trials come upon us. When we have a scary medical diagnosis, when the job is lost and the house could go with it, when our child is hurting and we can’t take the hurt away, when the storms destroy our home and our livelihood, when desperation causes someone we love to seek release in ways that moves them away from God and into deeper and more painful choices. The trials come in all shapes and sizes: physical, emotional, financial, relational, societal; yet in all of these we are to count it joy. How in this world do we do that?
Remembering that we said steadfastness is persevering and trusting God, we must turn to God.
Let’s humble our heart and cry out to God who hears our prayers.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
Stay connected with God’s precepts by being immersed in His word
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
“Blessed is the man … his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!... so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…” Psalm 78:1,7
Two are better than one-
Seek the prayers and help of your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Jesus is there-
Jesus is present with you in your time of need.
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25
“fear not, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:10
“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me: out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.” Jonah 2:2
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out with His hand and took hold of him…” Matthew 14:30-31
Wait on the Lord-
We need to keep continue doing all the above. Feeling anxious is common even when we have prayed about our circumstances. Don’t judge yourself or others who are not immediately better because of prayer. While we wait for God to work His healing in us, we can do some things that help us in the waiting.
Enjoy God’s creation: go for a walk; ride a bike; stretch; lift weights; go to a gym; plant something; make a new recipe; open the window and breath fresh air.
Do for others: shovel the neighbor’s snowy walkway; pick up groceries for a neighbor or shut-in; send an encouraging message; pray for the needs of others; donate; share from your bountiful blessings; give a ride.
Be grateful to God: be grateful for the weather (hot, cold, dry or wet, windy); for medicine that can treat illnesses; family; health; food in your pantry; transportation; a new day; telephones; technology; friends.
This is not a treatise on how to suffer but an attempt to help us understand better why we suffer and how we trust the Lord to get us through it. It is not all inclusive. We hope to offer more topics to consider in our blog on a monthly basis (for now). Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for future topics. Many of these topics are addressed in our book “Hello God it’s Me”.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. Amen.
Nothing in this blog is intended to diagnose or treat any disorder but to point the reader to Jesus Christ.
About the author Merion Haworth: Merion has been a believer since age 7 and since then has been a Sunday school teacher and been involved in various ministries within the local church. She has a Master of Science in Social Work degree and over 35 years as a therapist. She believes the Lord is Healer and depends on the written word and the Holy Spirit in all things. She and her husband, Rex Haworth, have been married 35 years and have two adult sons.