The Great Mystery of Suffering

When we as believers endure long hours and dark nights of suffering and loneliness, we do not go through them alone. Isaiah said, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10) Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

There is a story of the timid prisoner. It goes like this:

There was a hole - the inmates dreaded this cell. It was cold, dark, soundless, damp and still. The door clanked shut and he sank to the floor in despair. Suddenly, he heard footsteps. Then a voice said softly, “I am the prison chaplain. I knew you could not stand the loneliness alone, so I’ve come to be with you. I will be here as long as you are.” Knowing he was not alone, the tomb of darkness and loneliness became a place of rest.

Beloved, when we walk the dark and solitary roads of anguish and heartache, Jesus Christ is at your side. You may be lonely but you are never alone. “No danger can come near a believer that God is not nearer.” Read Psalm 23.

Consider Goliath. He was over nine feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet and a two hundred pound coat of mail. The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam. The tip of the spear weighed twenty-five pounds. His armor bearer walked before him carrying a huge shield. Now consider David. David’s armor? Five smooth stones in a shepherd’s bag, a sling, and a shepherd’s staff. Goliath came into the conflict in the name of Dagon. David came in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. The result was that God directed the stone.

Consider the verses in Scripture that speak of the eagle’s wings:

Exodus 19:4 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles wings.”

Psalm 103 “Satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that their youth is renewed like the eagles.”

Isaiah 40:31 “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.”

God is looking for men of sterling character through whom he can show his glory and power. In these days of compromise the church needs men of steel, men versed in the Word, blameless men, Spirit-filled men, men with tender hearts, men who are examples to the flock.

When Job learned of the loss of his family and possessions he tore his clothes, shaved his head, fell down upon the ground and worshipped God (sorrow, submission, and surrender). Listen to the cry of a broken, but obedient saint - “Naked I came into the world, naked shall I leave the world.”

“The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, praise and worship be to the name of the Lord.” Why could he say this? The eternal God had directed his magnificent and all-sustaining grace to flow toward him to strengthen him. Job was more than a conqueror. In all of his adversities he won an overwhelming victory with God’s help. For his obedience and faithfulness the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10). James wrote, “You have heard of the endurance of Job, and have seen how the Lord blessed him in the end. The Lord is full of pity, compassion, tenderness and mercy.”

There is a lesson in all of this for us today. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No chastening or trial for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous.” “The peaceable fruits of righteousness.” Weary pilgrims, as you journey forward and upward, surrounded by impossible human circumstances, the Lord is able to sustain you, and pour into your beleaguered heart the balm of Gilead, he will also give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. “I’m but a stranger here.”

Many of God’s dear children have confessed to having learned more about God and his will in the crucible of affliction than in the sunshine of happiness and success. C.H. Spurgeon said, “The good that I have received from my sorrows, disappointments, pain, and griefs is incalculable.” Consider also the examples of Joseph, Moses, Peter, and Jacob. Trials and testings are God’s training school.