Feeling sorrowful does not necessarily indicate lack of trust. Having a right understanding of God’s limitless power and love frees us to lament with hope. Joy is unshakable in the midst of struggle.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4, ESV
A great deal of life seems to play out in the valley of the shadow of death. As a matter of fact, I am currently in a season of darkness. Why not throw in the towel? How can I continue to take joy in the God of my salvation when following Him places me on the front lines of battle? Hope, for one; but not as an afterthought. Because flippantly telling someone to have hope in the midst of a trial is like telling an exasperated man “patience is a virtue.” Yes, thank you; I am aware.
It would be easy to fixate on my current heartache, but that gives birth to anxiety. However, God’s word has a lot to say in response to fear. Over and over in Scripture we are told to fear not. But it isn’t dismissive in nature like, why can’t you keep it together? I’m God, remember? No; He commands: fear not, and then tells us why we don’t have to be afraid.
- I am with you
- I am the One who helps you
- I have redeemed you
- I am your shield
- I hear you
- I am working righteousness in you
- I fight for you
- I go with you into battle to give you victory
- I am with you wherever you go
- I give victory
- Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord
Notwithstanding, neither can I ignore or control the incapacitating sorrow weighing down my soul. I must lament. Because the act of lamenting faces me toward God. While in His presence I am able to share honestly all that grieves and worries me. Within His capable arms I can say: This is too much! I feel overwhelmed! Remind me of your faithfulness. Open my eyes to see where You are working this for Your glory and our good. Fight for us! Protect us. Help me to stand firm on Your promises.
When we act like we can handle our suffering on our own, we commit idolatry — acting like we are God, capable in ourselves. Lamenting is relearning our humanity. Lamenting is admitting that we can’t handle it, knowing we need God’s power, mercy, and grace. If we could handle our sufferings, we wouldn’t need Jesus, his cross, his power, and his resurrection. Lamenting is how we grieve as those who have hope.
J.A. Medders, Redeemer Church Tomball, TX
Relearning my humanity = understanding my limits. Finally, it is there I remember I belong to a limitless God. Furthermore, I can only dream of what God has prepared for the future. But even now, in His mercy, I am seeing collateral blessings rise up out of this dark valley. So I find as I rely on our limitless God, hope is catching like wildfire.
Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort…For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
2 Corinthians 1:7-10, ESV