“Oh Lord, for years I have prayed for answers, healing, and understanding in this suffering you have allowed. Yet they have seemed not to come. Many have prayed to you on our behalf, as we have sought wisdom from the doctors you provided, and have longed for redemption of what’s been lost. By your grace, we have persevered through trial after trial, trusting that you would uphold us and bring forth good from all our pain.
Yet, many answers we have hoped for haven’t come in the ways we desire. The world’s solutions to our pain have left us discouraged, confused, and fighting hopelessness, while the trials, burdens, questions, and uncertainties remain the same.
I have longed for, cried, and pleaded for you to bring us out from under the pain and heaviness of these trials into a place of abundance. I have asked you to lift these crushing burdens, and carry us through the pounding waves and the raging fire that threatens to consume our hope, testimony, and lives.
However, in my desire for answers, I have missed something wonderful. You have answered our prayers, though different than I expected. You have been near, intimately working deep within our hearts as we have laid down our hopes and desires. While you have chosen not to remove the heartache and overwhelming circumstances from our lives, you have done something greater. You have brought us into a place of abundance. For while I have been waiting for this place of abundance to come in the form of relief, you have instead brought it in the midst of the very trials I desired to be freed from.
This place of abundance has been found in the presence of Christ, not in the absence of pain.”
For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance. (Psalm 66:10-12)
So often, when we go through a season of testing, or our lives are suddenly struck with suffering or tragedy, we can become so focused on waiting for the pain to end that we miss the life-giving place of abundance that can be found in Christ, right where we are.
By the grace of God, he has allowed the trials in my life to continue, and maybe even increase, in order that I would see that he alone is where the abundance of joy, peace, rest, hope, and satisfaction is found, rather than in my circumstances.
Could Christ also want to bring you out into a place of abundance through the very circumstances you desire to be freed from? Let me share with you three ways that God has used suffering to bring me into his rest, that they might encourage you to remember that your hope does not lie in better circumstances, but in a quiet and confident trust in Christ.
From: theology of work
2 Corinthians 8:1-2
The Collection for the Lord’s People
8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
When have you felt really, really joyful? When have you been so full of gladness that you just couldn’t keep it inside? Perhaps it was on the day of your graduation from college . . . or the graduation of your children. Maybe you felt great joy when you were honored at work or in the community. Or, it may be that you are most joyful on holidays when your whole family is gathered around the table for a festive meal.
In the agrarian society of ancient Israel, abundant harvests produced abundant joy. When the people planted their grain and grapes, they could never be sure how it would all turn out. If the right combination of factors, especially rain, sun, and fertile soil, came together, then there would be plenty to eat, and even something left over to be traded or sold. When the grain and grapes were plentiful, the people rejoiced plentifully.
According to Psalm 4:7, however, the Lord gave David “greater joy” even than the rejoicing over a bountiful harvest. Sometimes this joy came from God’s tangible blessings. At other times, the joy came from God’s presence and protection (4:8). When the “light” of God’s own face shines upon us, then we know the fullness of joy. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we are free from cares and burdens. But it does mean that our joy is not dependent on circumstance, but rather on the love of God for us . . . something that never fails.
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the good gifts of this life, for abundant harvests, for dear friends and family, for achievements and honors. Thank you for creating me with the capacity for joy.
Even more, I thank you today for the “greater joy” that comes from you. How grateful I am that you make yourself known to me. How much I appreciate your presence and protection.
O Lord, may I live in your joy more and more each day. May I share that joy with others, drawing them into a deeper relationship with you.
I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.