Finding Hope in Times of Suffering

Author Ann Marie:

A few years ago, one of my daughter’s friends died tragically. It was devastating, not only for my daughter and her family, but also for myself and my extended family. This young lady had spent many days in my home and had even gone on vacation and a few short trips with me and my family. The pain was intense, and I, during this time, questioned God and His wisdom in this situation.

How could God in all His infinite glory and grace allow such a beautiful young lady in the prime of her life to be cut down so tragically? I struggled and wrestled with it for several days, weeks, months and even years. I struggled even more when a few months later, her mom passed away. How could this be? And most importantly, where was God?  

It changed the way I did a few things, including how late I stayed out at nights. I began to be fearful of life. I became more pessimistic about life and its possibilities. The “what if’s” were overwhelming. What if God didn’t care; what if He just didn’t want to be bothered with our day to day issues or problems. Why would He allow such a tragic situation to such a wonderful young lady? Why would He cause us such intense pain?
There was also the time when my friend and colleague decided that her marriage of 20 years should come to an end. Despite the obvious pain she was causing her husband and children, she was determined to follow through with her plans. She was not interested in what the Word of God had to say about marriage or her decision making. She was going to make a clean break. This meant cutting ties with her family and everyone associated with her past life.

I cried for a while and cried even more when I watched as the lives of her children were impacted negatively. I wondered why the Lord did not intervene in an obvious mistake by an otherwise wonderful human being. What could be more important than the preservation of a relationship that seeks to raise children for God’s kingdom, and how the loss of a mother could ever be beneficial to anyone, including God?

The circumstances of the family down the street who despite their best efforts lost their home after the husband lost his job of 15 years to layoffs and cut backs. How was this kind of loss reflective of God’s grace and mercy? This was perplexing.

I didn’t have the answers then nor did I have it when a family member, a few years later, also lost their young daughter tragically, when I too lost my job, my home and my other earthly possessions. There were friends, like the friends of Job, who inquired about whether I was living in God’s will. There were numerous circumstances, before and after, that caused deep pain and forced me to question the Sovereignty of God, as well as His care and concern for His children. But these times also did something else, it drove me closer to the Lord. I spent more time reading the Bible and listening to the sermons of various preachers.   In the moments of my most intense grief, however, I took my pain to God in prayer. One of the first Scripture verse from the Bible that would often come to mind, as I knelt to pray was

Isaiah 55:8-9 King James Version (KJV)
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I learned that God is infinite, and He sees beyond today or even tomorrow. Even the painful circumstances can be used to transform our lives into beautiful tapestry. We are told in Scripture that God uses our suffering as a way of comforting others, in the same manner God comforted us during our times of suffering. Testimonies of our struggles can bring hope to the hopeless and restoration for those grappling with the harsh realities of life.

(2 Corinthians 1:3–5)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

We also know that we live in a broken world with broken and often selfish people. With this brokenness comes pain and suffering. But, if we are believers in Christ, we can take heart that this is not the end, and in due time, our understanding will be enlightened, and we will have a greater understanding of all these insurmountable problems in our lives. Our joy will be renewed, not temporarily, as it now occurs, but for an eternity.

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”

With my finite vision, I see only the here and now; I only understand things, circumstances and the people around me with that same limited perspective. I often do not understand, or even care to understand, the bigger picture. In my limited capacity, my focus is my needs, my feelings and how all these circumstances impact my here and now.

Thanks to Ann Marie for contributing to our online streaming churches broadcasting blog.

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