Suffering is a reality for anyone who lives in this broken, sin-cursed world. Some suffering is fleeting, while other trials are the sort of prolonged agony that lingers unbearably on. Some suffering is physical, some emotional or spiritual, and others a combination of all so that the suffering seems all-encompassing. It is likely that you can immediately identify your current unique trial. Instead of turning inward in self-pity or in a desperate effort to gain control, as is the temptation in any suffering, look to Jesus! Here are 5 simple but powerful meditations to help you do just that.
1. God is NEAR you
For an extended amount of time in my life, I felt as if God was silent and far. The trial in my life was so intense and so protracted that I began to question His presence and work in my life. Perhaps you feel like that too. But friend, those feelings are not truthful! In fact, it is when we are broken and crushed that He promises to be NEAR. Psalm 34:18 reminds us:
“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
2. God LOVES you
It is easy to think that our suffering is a direct result of our failure to keep God’s love in some way. This legalistic form of thinking cheapens the grace of God and neglects the fullness of God’s love. The Bible tells us that God’s love is unfailing (Psalm 36:7, 109:26, Jer 31:3), that His love for His children is both lavish and abundant (1 John 3:1, Ps 86:15), and that He faithfully demonstrates His love in tangible ways to us (John 3:16, Rom 5:8, 1 John 4:10). Like the apostle Paul, I pray that today you will remember that the God who made you and saved you loves you!
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14, 17-19
3. God will always SUSTAIN you
In Deuteronomy, Moses prophesies a blessing to each tribe of Israel. To Asher he states, in Deut 33:25,
“Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.”
He continues, to the entire nation of Israel, in verse 27:
“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
While most of us are not of the tribe of Asher or the nation of Israel, these verses paint such a beautiful and comforting picture of how God leads and sustains us. Verse 25 reminds us of God’s omniscience. He knows what kind of day you are going to have and is powerful and gracious to give you exactly enough for what you need (2 Cor 12:9). Verse 27 reminds us of God’s eternality and kind mercy. No matter how broken you are or how low you have gone, His never-failing arms are always UNDERNEATH you, holding you up, sustaining your life.
4. God will always be your Source of STRENGTH
Perhaps some of the most quoted verses are those that focus on strength. And little wonder, for we are inherently weak and needy people! We need encouragement to be strong (Eph 6:10, 1 Cor 16:13), to do hard things (Phil 4:13, Is 41:10), and to keep going (Is 40:31). But during suffering, these encouragements can morph into a hypocritical “joy” we must exhibit to others, or a humanistic strength we must muster up. Neither of these is necessary nor God’s best for you!
When suffering slaps you in the face and knocks you to your knees, remember that power and strength come not from your clever mind, your tender heart, your fit body, or your loving family. Christian, rejoice! You may lose every human faculty, but you will never lose the source of your strength.
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”
5. God has a PURPOSE for you
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29
Do you believe that everything in your life is working for your good and God’s glory? Is your present trial included in that? It is hard to accept that suffering fits into the first part of Romans 8:28. Yet, when we understand that God’s purpose for us is to become more like Jesus, we can begin to comprehend that our suffering is part of God’s plan. Trials deepen and broaden our understanding of God’s character, allowing us to glorify Him to ourselves and others. Thus, in the middle of our suffering, we find that we have begun to live a more abundant life!
Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you would not suffer. He suffered so that when you suffer, you’ll become more like Him. The gospel does not promise you better life circumstances; it promises you a better life. – Timothy Keller
Today, whether you sleep on tear-soaked pillows, feel your heart drop with each phone call, or must catch your breath every time you take a step, use these meditations as a simple way to filter your thoughts and encourage your heart. Take heart, friend, and look up! There is a better life ahead!
James and Deb Flowers
James and Deb Flowers have been married since 2009 and are parents to 3 young children. Prior to coming on staff at SICM in July 2023, James pastored Hudson View Baptist Church in Yonkers, NY for 10 years. James holds a BA in Humanities and an MA in Pastoral Studies from Bob Jones University (BJU). He is passionate about discipleship and biblical counseling. Deb holds a BS in Pre-Medicine from BJU, an MS in Biomedical Sciences from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and an MSPAS from Medical University of South Carolina. She has experience in Genetics research and is a certified Physician Assistant. Deb speaks to and writes devotionals for women and children. Because they are convinced of the fact that God has provided man with all things that that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3), both James and Deb are currently pursuing certification through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).