Storms rage, waves crash and the future seems bleak. I’m not talking about literal storms, but the storms that rage in our lives regularly. Maybe for you it was a doctor’s diagnosis. Maybe it was the death of a loved one. Maybe it’s the constant pain of poor mental health. Whatever your storm is, you need truth that anchors you to the Rock that cannot be shaken to moved. Here is one of my storms…
For nearly 8 years now I have suffered from a chronic illness. I suffer constant pain that never lets up and has changed me significantly. I have a constant migraine that never gets below an 8/10 on the pain scale. But a migraine doesn’t quite cut it, words fail. Regardless, I’m in constant agony. I don’t sleep much at all, hence the amount of books I read, my energy is next to naught, my body aches, my body is not my friend and the pain takes its toll.
In my case the doctors have given up. There is no cure for what I have. But, my hope is not built on finding a cure. My hope is not reliant on me being healed in this life (though I still pray for that to happen). My hope is built on Christ and the eternal life that I have in him.
This is not a position I came to overnight. For a while I was angry at the pain I felt. For a long time I wrestled with the question ‘why?’. But as I wrestled and grew over the years, as I adjusted to the news that there was nothing that could be done, I realised that my illness should push me towards God, not to run from Him. I’ve read tons of books on suffering. I’ve spent hours in Job, Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, the Psalms, 1 Peter and so on, I have invested in my suffering.
Christians need to be equipped with a robust and biblical theology of suffering in order to face the storms that come. Christians need to be rooted in God’s Word, in their identity in Christ, in their understanding of God’s Work so that when the storms rage they are fixed to the Rock which cannot move. So when you’re reading your Bible, don’t skip the tough bits. Don’t hide away from the difficult passages that may make you feel uncomfortable. Sit in the depths of despair and learn what it means to suffer well for the glory of God. That will set your feet firm for the storms that will come your way.
For the preacher this also means that you should tackle those bits too. Don’t fill sermons with jokes or be lighthearted all of the time. Take people to the bits that will be uncomfortable and fill their minds with biblical truths that will help them stand. Give people robust theology to weather the storms. Give people the gospel to keep them pursuing the eternal life that they have been given through Jesus. Give people a realistic view of suffering and point them to Jesus at all times. Give people Jesus.
Investing in your suffering, even before it comes, is one of the best things you can do. It will help you to know how to suffer well for the glory of God and in a way that points to the enabling of the Holy Spirit to equip saints to live for Jesus.