Peace and Hope in Suffering

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1

The great chapter on faith in the Bible is Hebrews, chapter 11. It begins, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

What is often overlooked in this chapter, though, is the final eight verses where we get the balanced picture of faith as that which lays hold on God for rescue from suffering and as that which lays hold on God for peace and hope in suffering.

Verse 33 says “By faith they conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection…”

Now if we stopped reading here our conception of how the quality of faith manifests itself would be very distorted, because here it sounds as if faith always wins in this life.

But here a shift occurs and we find that faith is also the power to lose our life: “By faith … others were tortured, not accepting release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; others experienced mocking and scourging, yes, also chains and imprisonment.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground . . . And all these gained approval through their faith. . . ”

The glory of God is manifested when He heals, and when he gives a sweet spirit of hope and peace to the person that He does not heal, for that, too, is a miracle of grace! O, that we might be a people among whom God is often healing our sicknesses, but is always causing us to be full of joy and peace while our sickness remains.

If we are a humble and childlike people who cry out to God in our need and trust in His promises, the Holy Spirit will help us and God will bless us with every possible blessing. He will, as the text says, work everything together for our good.

– John Piper

Where To Put Your Troubles

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall. – Psalm 55:22

Put your troubles where you have put your sins. You have put your sins onto Jesus — put your troubles there also!

As soon as the trouble comes tell it to your Father in heaven! Remember, the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the longer you will wait for peace. The longer the frost lasts, the more likely the ponds will be frozen.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

Putting your burden upon the Lord is the way to soothe sorrow. Oh, troubled Christians, don’t dishonor your faith by always wearing a frown of concern. Come, put your burden upon the Lord.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

You are staggering beneath a weight that He would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden would be nothing but a bit of dust to Him. The Almighty bends His shoulders, and He says to you, “Put your troubles here!”

– C.H. Spurgeon

God Works Good In All Things

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

It is one of the wonders of divine love, that God will take even our blemishes and sins, when we truly repent of them and give them to Him, and make them blessings to us in some way.

Someone once showed an expensive handkerchief to an artist. The hankerchief had a blot of ink on it.

“Nothing can be done with that!” the person said, thinking that the handkerchief was now ruined and worthless. The artist took it with him and after a time sent it back to his friend. In a most skillful and artistic way he had made a fine design on the handkerchief, using the blot as its foundation. Instead of being ruined, the handkerchief was made far more beautiful and valuable.

In the same way, God takes the flaws and blots and stains of our lives, the disfiguring blemishes, and by His marvelous grace changes them into strength and beauty of character! God gives us beauty for ashes. (Isa 61:3)

David’s terrible sin was not only forgiven, it was made a transforming power in his life.

Peter’s sad fall became a step upward through his Lord’s forgiveness and gentle dealing. Peter never would have become the man he became if he had not denied his Lord, and then repented and been restored.

Paul tells us that we become more than conquerors in all life’s trials, dangers, struggles, temptations, and sorrows only “through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:37)

Without Christ we are defeated. There is only one power that can turn evil into good, pain into blessing — the love of Christ. There is only one Hand which can take the blotted life and transform it into beauty.

– J. R. Miller

How You Can Have Peace In Your Life

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Our text tells us that those whose mind is “stayed on” the Lord will be kept in His perfect peace. What does it mean to keep our mind “stayed on” the Lord? It means at least three things:

1) It means making the Lord the center of your life

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
(Col 3:2-4)

All around us people are seeking happiness in things such as money, social standing, fame, pleasures — all of which are broken vessels which hold no water. Only the One who made us can satisfy our heart’s desires.

Only after we trust Christ, and turn our focus to things above, (Col 3:2) do we begin to experience His “perfect peace”. This is because Christ “himself is our peace”. (Eph 2:14)

2) It means accepting whatever happens in this life

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

This begins by first recognizing that “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things,” (Rom. 11:36) and responding to this fact by saying, “He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.”(1 Sam. 3:18).

When we do this, we’re trusting Christ to give us the strength and grace and guidence and protection we need, then His “perfect peace” will be ours in this world of sin and turmoil.

3) It means leaving the future entirely in God’s hands

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Pro 3:5-6)

All our days are in His hands (Psa. 31:15) and He has promised to never to leave nor forsake us! (Heb 13:5) There’s no need be fearful of what lies ahead.

We’re told to live our lives one day at a time and “not worry about tomorrow”. (Matt 6:34) When we do this, we’re trusting that our future is safe and secure in Christ, then His “perfect peace” will be ours.

Afterwards You’ll Understand

Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” – John 13:5-7

At this time Peter didn’t know why the Savior he really needed was a Savior with basin and towel. He was thinking of a Savior with throne and crown. He didn’t understand it until after the blood of Calvary had been shed. Christ referred to these days as “afterwards.”

This saying of Christ, however, may be used in a much wider sense. There are a great many things that He does, which at the time we cannot understand, but in due time all of them will become clear. As they appear to us, while we are passing through them, they’re unfinished acts but when the work is completed it will appear beautiful.

One time Jacob thought, “Everything is against me!” (Gen 42:36) But he lived to see that the very things which he thought were against him were really all working together for his good. In God’s providence “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” (Rom 8:28)

The back of a needlepoint appears to be a mystery of tangle and confusion but there is a beautiful picture on the other side. In the same way we’re looking at our lives on the back side. We cannot see the Master’s plan until ‘afterwards’.

– J.R. Miller

Seasons Of Darkness

“You are my hope in the day of evil.” -Jeremiah 17:17

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine. He has his seasons of darkness and of storm. At certain periods clouds cover the believer’s sun, and he walks in darkness and sees no light.

There are many who have rejoiced in the presence of God for a season; they have basked in the sunshine in the earlier stages of their Christian career.

They have walked along the “green pastures” by the side of the “still waters,” but suddenly they find the glorious sky is clouded and they say, “Surely, if I were a child of God, this would not happen.”

Oh! don’t say that, you who walk in darkness. The best of God’s saints must drink the wormwood; the dearest of His children must bear the cross. No Christian has enjoyed perpetual prosperity; no believer can always keep his harp from the willows.

Perhaps the Lord allotted you at first a smooth and unclouded path, because you were weak and timid. He tempered the wind to the little lamb, but now that you are stronger in the spiritual life, you must enter upon the riper and rougher experience of God’s full-grown children.

We need winds and tempests to exercise our faith, to tear off the rotten bough of self-dependence, and to root us more firmly in Christ. The day of evil reveals to us the value of our glorious hope.

– Charles Spurgeon

Our Response To Trials

Read Psalm 5:1-12

What do you do in difficult situations? Many of the psalms were written during difficult, often painful, experiences. In Psalm 5 we find two sequences concerning trials.

In the first sequence (vv. 1-7), David is experiencing difficulty and makes his request – ”hear me.” (v. 1-3).

Meditation here means “sighing, murmuring, groaning” – a quiet expression of feelings.

When our burden is beyond expression, all we can do is sigh and moan before the Lord. The Spirit hears our groanings and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26). David’s meditation turns to a cry (v. 2; Heb. 5:7). Prayer is not always a quiet, joyful conversation with God. Sometimes it is a battle against the principalities arrayed against us.

David’s reason for making this request is the holiness of God (vv. 4-6). He cried to God because He is holy and stands against the wicked and boastful. Although He will judge the wicked, God does not always judge sin immediately. David’s response is worship (v. 7), individual and personal.

In the second sequence, David makes another request–”lead me” (v. 8).

He wants God’s way, which is the righteous way. In the midst of difficulty, what we need most is wisdom to know the will of God (James 1:5). Notice that David asks to be led, not delivered. God has a straight way through every difficulty that will lead us to victory.

His reason this time is the wickedness of man (vv. 9,10). Destruction means “a yawning, open abyss.” An open tomb pictures defilement and death. Flattery is not communication; it is manipulation. Absalom fell by his own counsel. David did nothing. He let God do it all (Rom. 12:19).

David’s response (vv. 11,12) is rejoicing in faith, love and hope. Joy comes from trusting in and loving the Lord. This kind of joy comes from God’s work on the inside, not from circumstances on the outside.

The psalmist tells us to expect difficulty. We shouldn’t run from our trials but bring to God our requests, our reasons and our response.

You need never be paralyzed by your difficulties. You have the privilege of praying to a loving, understanding Father, who knows your condition. He guides you through difficulty to victory.

When your faith, hope and love are fixed on the Lord, you can face any difficulty or problem, and God will give you joy and peace within.

– Warren Wiersbe