One of the greatest things about the Bible is that it does not avoid the hard things in life. Everyone reading this has either been through suffering, is currently in suffering, or will go through suffering. That may not be the most positive thing you’ll read all day, but hey, we’re in the middle of a book called “Lamentations” what did you expect?
Chapter 3 has us in a monologue. The writer has been through intense suffering:
18 so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
This man has been through intense suffering, and yet, he can still speak with confidence of the faithfulness and goodness of God.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
I love that verse 21 reminds us that in some ways it takes discipline in order to fight the darkness that suffering can bring. When you’re walking through suffering, it can be easier to think about your own pain than about God. The problem with that is that it becomes a never-ending valley of self-focus. On the flip side, focus on God does not take away the pain of suffering and doesn’t make grief any better or shorter of a process, but it does make it different. As opposed to self-focused grieving, God-focused grieving brings hope to a situation that seems utterly hopeless.
So, if you have been through suffering recently, reflect on how where your focus was during that time: on God or yourself. If you are walking through it right now, decide that you will focus more on God than yourself during this difficult time. And if you are yet to walk through a season like this, prepare now for how you want to respond to it when the time does come.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate