Crying out to God – Suffering Well

It’s not uncommon for Christians who are under severe trials to find themselves experiencing doubts and concerns about their relationship to God.  They cry out to him for help but it may seem like he is far away.  They may be bewildered by God’s dealings with them.  This spiritual depression that they experience may further alarm them and others around them.  It is thought perhaps that as Christians they should have peace and joy at all times and hence the absence of such peace is alarming.  However things are not always as they seem.  A Christian may lack a sense of peace and assurance of God’s love, yet the fact that they continue to look to him and  cry out to him in their pain is a good sign that it is well with their soul.   In Luke 18 the elect are described as those who ‘cry to him day and night.’  Isaiah 50 speaks of people who ‘fear the Lord’ yet ‘walk in darkness and have no light.’   Furthermore we ought to remember that Jesus himself was ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53).  In the garden of Gethsemane he was not calm and peaceful but deeply troubled.  As we are conformed to his likeness we ought not to be surprised if we find ourselves  also deeply troubled.  What matters most at such times is not how we feel but where we look.

Joni Erickson Tada has been a quadriplegic ever since she was a teenager.  Speaking at a conference not long ago she said, ‘don’t think that after all these years I’ve worked out how to handle quadriplegia.   I still can’t handle quadriplegia.  I wake up every morning, so tired and I cry out to God saying, “God, I can’t do quadriplegia.  Help me.”  She said, ‘I wake up knowing my girlfriend is about to come through the door and help me out of bed and I just can’t summon up the strength to greet her with a smile, so I cry out to God and only then do I find that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’  You see it is not that our trials become easier as we grow in godliness, it is that we learn to cry out more to God and depend more upon his strength.  This is what it means to suffer well.

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