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Hope In Suffering

When I opened my Bible to read Jeremiah 1 through 4, the subhead ascribed to the book startled me: “Hope in Time of Weeping.” I almost cried. The timing was perfect, as I was walking through a season of weeping over the death of my mom.

I felt much the same way after hearing my pastor’s sermon the day before. The title was “Joy in Suffering,” taken from 1 Peter 1:3-9. He gave us an illustration from his own life: the one-year anniversary of his father’s death. The sermon was meaningful for many, but for me it was a gift from God. These and other events were indications backed up by His Word that God would not leave me alone in my grief.

Even though the way of sorrow is hard, God sends reminders of His enduring presence. To the Israelites expelled from the Promised Land due to disobedience, God made His presence known by sending prophets like Jeremiah to offer them hope—hope for reconciliation through repentance. And to those He leads through times of testing, He shows His presence through a community of believers who “love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). These indications of God’s presence during trials on earth affirm God’s promise of the living hope awaiting us at the resurrection.

Does Jesus care when I’ve said goodbye
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks,
Is it aught to Him? Does He see? O yes, He cares! —Graeff
We need never be ashamed of our tears. —Dickens

Insight

The apostle Peter wrote his letters to a church that was enduring persecution for their faith. Though the “various trials” they were experiencing (1 Peter 1:6) may not be the same type of trials we must endure, the source of the strength to endure is the same. We are not alone in our trials, and our endurance in them is not due to our inner strength. It is God Himself who strengthens us to endure. We are kept by the power of God (v.5), so that our faith praises, honors, and glorifies Christ (v.7).

4 thoughts on “Hope In Suffering

  1. bennym says:

    Doctor, thank you for your perspective. As usual, it is very refreshing and enlightening. God bless you, and also help us to stop denying our Lord Jesus Christ in circles where we feel it will be “inappropriate” or unacceptable.

  2. walkingwithhim says:

    Reading the devotion this morning, tears fell unhindered…

    Once one has suffered deeply, identification with other’s pain can be immediate and instantly understood. I wonder if this is also one purpose in suffering? – to bond us together on an intimate level of compassion and love?

    At times in our lives, trials can feel like a Tsunami of devastation especially when those trials have to do with loss, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of health, loss of freedom…

    After the waves hit, the waters settle and the landscape reveals wreckage and ruin; it may seem impossible to rebuild. In these seasons, it is God Himself who pours out His grace and strengthens us to endure. It is God Himself who allows hope to rise from the ashes. It is God Himself who equips us and encourages us for the journey ahead.

    I was contemplating this recently – to be like the eagle that soars high above the noise and commotion, observing scenery and yet remaining removed. The eagle keeps a position that allows it wider perspective while retaining the ability to zoom in on what’s important to its survival.

    While the eagle has the ability to focus on something very small (it’s prey) we need to learn to keep our focus on Something very Big.

    Whether we’ve experienced the passing of a lifetime friend, lost the use of our legs, if we’ve been imprisoned for our faith or lost our livelihood, we will all face trials of one kind or another.

    We can learn to soar above life’s circumstances, above the din of pain which cries with a loud voice expecting all our attention, and turn our hearts and minds upon God Himself.
    An eagle is equipped to see something minute in the landscape far below.
    Let us turn our gaze heavenward allowing our hope and faith to remain in a position that enables it to endure, being carried on His wings.
    Like the eagle who soars effortlessly, we can enjoy the beauty of a landscape covered with His mercy and love and be carried to greater heights.

    We will all go through times of suffering. And if we are walking close to His side we will have times of persecution as well.

    May He blow the winds of His holy spirit upon us and may we, like the eagle, allow His gentle breeze to lift us up, giving us His strength, filling us with His love, bringing us closer to His heart.

  3. janet margaret says:

    To D-D, my eyes are opened more today after reading your comments. I appreciate it. Thank you.

  4. doctor-perspective says:

    We have a High Priest who not only can sympathize with our weaknesses, but also stands with us during our personal grief, trials and persecution. This is part of the Believer’s heritage.

    I do not have any memories of being persecuted in any of the three countries that I have lived because of my faith in Jesus Christ. Based on where you live, perhaps you have been victim of a national policy of persecution of Christians. If that is so, it would be very difficult for me to step into your shoes, and in deference, I acknowledge my duty to pray that you will continue to receive the strength and courage and grace that God has provided for you.
    But then, persecution is not restricted to national policies. Perhaps, you have been persecuted at work because of your faith in Jesus Christ. Again, I have not experienced this. However, let me warn that to be consistent, the definition of persecution must be maintained. It would be an insult to our Christian brothers and sisters who are being tortured and murdered by ISIS, and who are being forced to worship in underground churches in China to refer to “snobbery” at the work-place as “persecution”. Persecution at the work-place should involve at the very least, clear victimization, discrimination, harassment, false accusation, denial of promotion and even being fired because of your faith in Jesus Christ.

    It is possible that you may have suffered persecution at school or in your social circles because of the Name of Jesus Christ and the fact that you boldly identify with Him. Finally, perhaps you have been persecuted within your family and may even have been excommunicated or disinherited because of your faith in Jesus Christ. I do not recall being persecuted in any of the ways just described, and I thank God for that. It is therefore my duty to suffer vicariously with those who are being persecuted, because persecution is part of the Christian’s heritage. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” (1 Peter 4:12) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

    If the truth be told, none of us would want to invite persecution in our lives, and I certainly would not. And yet persecution is spoken of as something that is beneficial to the development of our faith. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance…” (Romans 5:3) “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3). “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

    The fact that today, some of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ is enough cause for us to ask ourselves the question, “what would I do if I had to choose between denying Christ, or being persecuted and tortured?” The answer of course is very personal and private between ourselves and God. But here is another perspective. It is meaningless to claim that I will not deny Christ to avoid persecution and torture, when today, I refuse to publicly acknowledge Him when it is not “politically correct” to do so. If the words on my favorite baseball cap are “I Love Jesus”, and I refuse to wear it in circles that are not friendly to Jesus, and instead wear one that advertises Pepsi or Coke or Toyota, then I have just denied Christ so as to avoid persecution.

    May God give us the courage to stand up and be counted for Him wherever we go and to share His love with those we encounter, even when doing so may directly or indirectly attract harm to ourselves. All the way to Calvary Jesus went for me, so that I could now be set free to live for Him.

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