Details are staggering. The horrors of human depravity cause me to shudder and weep. When I began counseling ministry, I confess that I was fearful that I would become calloused towards human suffering, that hearing story after story would have a numbing effect on me. Knowing this, I have prayed ongoingly that God would keep my heart from cold apathy. God has answered abundantly, and with that a different temptation has presented itself. In recent years, I have struggled to hope in God when sympathizing deeply with the amount of compounding pain I see.
My heart can become overwhelmed with grief as I walk alongside yet another woman who is suffering from various forms of abuse in her home that makes me sick to my stomach. The disregard of the image of God and His design for a loving marriage can feel debilitating. To see the despair in a child’s eyes who has suffered neglect and physical and sexual abuse leaves me feeling utterly helpless. I cannot imagine what it is like to be in their shoes. I can struggle to focus after weeping with a woman who recounts being raped by someone who should have protected her. I often identify with Asaph in Psalm 73 when all can seem lost if I do not throw the eyes of my heart upon the truths of who God is.
Truths to Hope in God
Press these truths deep into your heart so that temptations to despair are overcome with a steadfast hope in God, who is unchanging and sovereign over all things.
Will not the judge of all the earth do right?
God will exact perfect justice over every sin in this life and in the life to come. He has atoned for the sin of His people at Calvary and will righteously judge those who do not repent in the lake of fire for all of eternity. This is a terrifying prospect for those who persist in wickedness. While we pray for God to have mercy on sinners and keep our hearts from bitterness, we can also hope in the fact that God’s righteousness and justice will prevail.
(Genesis 18:25; Exodus 34:7; Hebrews 10:30-31)
God is Near
It is good and right to be sorrowful over sin that runs rampant in this world. But sorrow must be joined with turning to God for comfort and refuge. Jesus led the way in being a man of sorrows while setting his heart to do that Father’s will with unshakeable resolve. God is not deaf and uncaring. We have the privilege of approaching his throne of grace for help in our time of heartache and he promises to be near and for his presence to grant us everything that we need.
(Psalm 34:18, 73:28; Hebrews 4:14-16 )
Your Labors are Not in Vain
While we lament, we continue to actively walk in the good works God has prepared for us. The pain we see should not lead us to be paralyzed in discouragement but point us to a dependent, daily work of growing in grace. Do not grow weary in sowing to the Spirit and abiding in Christ, knowing that he will help you to bear fruit against all human ability and understanding.
(Galatians 6:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:58)
The Victory Has Been Won
The Lord is your salvation. Your suffering does not define and dictate the trajectory of your life. It surely affects, teaches, refines, and points you to your source of help. Because you are now found in Christ, you can trust that God’s purposes for you will not fail. The eternal love of God for you is a permanent reality that brings healing for every hurt. God’s love for you is sure even in life’s deepest pains. His love is limitlessly sustaining us through persecution, tribulation, distress, and everything in all of creation. His ways are good, and He will never forsake you. His sovereign plan is a sure foundation for your soul in the midst of every unknown future circumstance and present affliction.
He Will Wipe Every Tear
Unlike the garden of Eden, the new heavens and new earth can never be penetrated by anything detestable. This is a glorious comfort as we look to our eternal reward. All that we long for right now to be made right in the world will completely and finally be made sight. These present afflictions will pass away, and sorrow will be no more. God, who never lies, has promised these things. We can live our days right now with this confidence and assurance. These sufferings have an end date to them, and God is actively at work right now to bring this into fruition.
I pray these truths help your heart to hope as you are sorrowful, yet rejoicing as you put your hand to the plow and as you sow through tears (Psalm 126). God is faithful to redeem and restore for His name’s sake.