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Hope In The Midst Of Suffering

Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
–Hebrews 4:16

Let me give you three insights you can cling to during times of suffering. First of all, God is in control of every circumstance in your life. If you ever have difficulty believing that, look at the prayer of the church leaders in Acts 4:27-28. Referring to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, they said, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Who was responsible for the crucifixion? Yes, it was Pilate, Herod, and other people, but ultimately, those people were simply pawns in the hand of God to do what He had predetermined would happen. If God is willing to take responsibility for the torture and murder of His own Son, He is willing to take responsibility for the suffering in your life right now. He is in control.

Second, God understands your suffering. Jesus Christ knows what it is like to be rejected by your family. He knows what it is like to be betrayed by your friends. He knows what it is like to stand over the grave of a loved one. He knows because He experienced those things Himself. And He says to us, “Even though I planned these events in your life and I know there is going to be a good outcome, I still hurt when you hurt.” If Jesus knows the outcome, how can He empathize with us? Bryan Chapell explained it this way: “I have watched Jimmy Stewart’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ dozens of times. . . . I know that George Bailey’s friends will rally around him, that Zuzu will get well, and that Clarence will get his wings. . . . Still, my knowledge of what will happen does not keep the tears from my eyes when a grieving and drunken pharmacist damages the young George’s ears, when Mr. Martini ends up in the gutter, and when Donna Reid tells Jimmy Stewart to go away. Despite the good to come, the tragedy is still tragic in the present.” Though Jesus knows the outcome, He still hurts with us. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Finally and most importantly, God has not yet revealed the final chapter of your story. Had Jesus’s story ended on that Friday afternoon when He died on the cross, His life truly would have been a great tragedy. But on Sunday morning, God released His Son from the jaws of death. Suddenly a great tragedy was turned into a great triumph. The same is true for you. If you are going through a time of suffering, remember that the final chapter of your life has not yet been revealed. As S. M. Lockridge famously preached, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Healing Words For Hurting Hearts” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Bryan Chapell, “The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have To Preach” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 77.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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