What does it mean to hope in suffering? Does it mean to expect God’s immediate or eventual healing? Does it mean to bear with the hurt and pain for the rest of our lives until Jesus comes again? How do we deal with the inevitable?
Last Saturday, the pastor tackled the core of these issues: hope in the midst of suffering that our new bodies are coming. Christ is returning soon, we look eagerly for that day and in the meantime continue to serve God faithfully. No promise of healing, but the need to have hope. While his heart is definitely in the right place, to comfort people, the message is the need for us to have hope?
In our new bodies? In the return of Christ? Yes that’s hope for a future occurrence, but what hope do we have now? The illogical yet common implication is that God does not want to heal or relieve me from my suffering until He returns, and He isn’t really that good after all. Most, if not all Christians won’t outright say that because it’s not politically correct or unspiritual, but if we want to be honest with ourselves, is it even possible to hope in a God who isn’t really good, even if we say that He is in front of the people around us?
Here is a piece of hope that I have for anyone who is suffering, right here, right now: God has neither left you nor forsaken you. He is good and wants you well. Until He completely makes you well, He is here in the midst of your suffering. He bore the whips and lashes and every disease that can ever be named on His own body, so that by HIS wounds, we are healed. He knows exactly the pain and hurt that this suffering can only bring about and is, right here and right now, here to give you all the comfort that you need.
The best thing abut God’s sovereignty is not that we can’t understand it or that we should just resign to fate or God’s will or whatever you call it, as I and perhaps many others have ever interpreted it, but that God is in control. He will not let this suffering get the better of you. He will protect you at all costs. He loves and will fight for His children. He is GOOD! Faithful He has been, faithful He will be in the midst of your suffering. He will never shortchange you. He will always give you the best because He is good! You will not lose out by trusting in Him. You find all goodness in Him because He is good!
Put your hope not in yourself of the lack of yourself, but in Christ. In Christ you find your all in all.
I don’t say this as an idealist.
This photo is a small sample of the physical trauma I went through last year. Imagine something like this but less white and more red all over my hands, legs, neck, scalp and body (apparently my face was relatively spared). On Saturday, during the response time, before the song was even sung, I was reminded of this traumatic incident. The memory was converted into anguish. Right there and then, I sobbed, wept and started weeping and wailing. Throughout the song. Don’t get me wrong, I was full aware of the lyrics, and if anything at certain parts of the song the emotions just intensified. I wept uncontrollably. Even when the song ended, the altar call was given and the service was dismissed, I was still weeping in anguish. The physical trauma was really emotional.
Some things that I heard is that God wanted me to be sick and that essentially I should try to obey God even in my suffering.These answers, as with the sermon on a whole, are at best factually correct but totally unhelpful and at worst incredibly hurtful to the suffering. Looks like God isn’t that good after all. This is where I step in to say that unless they are going through suffering too, what they say would not be helpful at all. The people who can say these things with a clear conscience include those suffering cancer, depression and anyone who, simply put, actually suffering, instead of just dreading challenge or training.
As I laid on my bed, I asked God, “what’s the point of lying on my bed here unable to do anything productive?” and have ever thought, “why did you allow this to happen to me?” God didn’t answer immediately, and the details of what happened is in my May 2015 post. In this period, the two songs “Risen” and “In Jesus’ Name” by Covenant Worship and Darlene Zschech respectively were really helpful. To hear that “I will live, I will not die” and “the same power that crushed the enemy lives in me” while I was having chills and burning sensations at the same time reminded me that God is taking very good care of me right in the middle of my suffering.
May Jesus be your hope in the midst of your suffering too just as He was mine.
-Joel Kindiak, 19 Sept 2016, 1655 hrs