4 Hopeful Truths to Help You Trust God through Trials
- Kimi Harris Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 1 May
Perhaps you can relate to my experience: I found myself walking out of the hospital with a cloud of fear hovering over me after initial testing for cancer didn’t look good. When I got home, dazed by potential worst-case scenarios, I climbed into my soft bed with my Bible and opened it.
What comfort does the Bible have for us when we are facing difficult times? Could Scripture drive away my fear? Could it breathe life back into my numbed brain?
I was only 16, but this experience grew my desire to draw peace from the Bible through difficult times—a desire that continues to this day. While my cancer-scare ended up being a false alarm, since that day I have experienced great loss, suffered from a chronic illness, and walked through the valley of death.
In all of it, I have wrestled through the Bible and not found it lacking.
The Bible is rich with complex truths that we could spend a lifetime unpacking, but here are four truths that can help you trust God through your trials:
1. Lamenting is biblical.
Too often we assume that trusting in God means hiding our pain and putting on a cheerful face.
This isn’t more spiritual, necessarily. It can actually be a form of spiritual denial. We don’t win brownie points for hiding our pain.
The psalmist starts with honesty, asking God why he is forsaken, why he finds no rest, and why he hears no answer from God. As the psalmist continues, he recounts God’s faithfulness to Israel in the past. He also trusts God even while experiencing agony.
Then the lament turns to hope and praise: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” (Psalm 22:24)
This Psalm not only gives honest expression to the psalmist’s personal pain and prophesies about Jesus’ experience on the cross, but it also gives us insight into how to pray to God during our own trials.
We can pour out our deepest pain and darkest questions to God. We can weep and mourn and lament the reality of our sufferings.
We can lament while at the same time trusting in our future hope, whether that hope is in a better tomorrow, a blessed eternity, or both. We can cry out like the psalmist, “You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (Psalm 22:19).
This concept helped me when grieving the devastating loss of our firstborn. It gave me comfort when I cried out in physical pain, “God, where are you?” It gave me perspective when sorrow over the brokenness of this world threatened to overcome me.
Trusting in God may not always look like being dressed in our “Sunday best,” with a smile on our faces. It may look more like Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. There he anticipated his death on the cross and became “sorrowful and troubled” (Matthew 26:37).
Jesus told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38).
Jesus felt the grief of this world, so how did he prevail? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that, “…for the joy set before him he endured the cross.” This reminds us that while it took endurance, Jesus walked toward certain death because of the joy he knew was coming.
We have that same hope in future joy even during the darkest nights of our lives.
2. We can lament and rejoice.
True hope comes from Jesus’ work on our behalf. 1 Peter 1:3 reminds us we have a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” and we have received a heavenly “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
This is the type of hope that can get us through hard days and nights. Peter continues by making a surprising claim: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
This short passage has a lot of truth to chew on, including the fact that suffering can help prove our faith, resulting in something more precious than gold. But perhaps Peter’s most controversial claim is that we can actually rejoice in the midst of suffering.
There is a paradoxical truth in the Bible that our pain is very real, but our joy is as well. This deep joy comes when we look forward to the fruit that God will bring about in our lives— including the deep joy of a rooted faith that has been refined through suffering.
Peter continues, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
While our earthly pain is great, the joy of our salvation is greater still.
This isn’t always an easy concept to understand. I’ve felt a conflict within my heart in moments of overwhelming grief or deep physical pain. Lament made sense in those moments, but I wasn’t sure what it meant for joy to be there too.
Jesus used the analogy of a woman giving birth to explain to his disciples how pain can turn to joy. He pointed out that “when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy" (John 16:21). This analogy struck me after the birth of my fourth child.
While I handled my labor and deliveries fairly well, there was a moment right before giving birth where I thought, “Nothing can be worth this amount of pain.” Moments later, with my child on my chest, I realized (yet again) how wrong I was. No one would deny that a woman’s labor can be painful—sometimes extremely so—but that doesn’t mean that her joy isn’t real too.
Like a laboring woman, we can endure in suffering because of the joy set before us.
3. Suffering doesn't mean God has turned against us.
One fear that clouds the minds of many suffering believers is that God is punishing them. When circumstances are bleak, it can feel like God has turned against you. In the book of Job, Job’s friends make this mistake as well as they look on the devastation of Job’s life.
He had lost his wealth, his children, his social standing, and his health. They were certain that if Job would only “seek God earnestly and plead with the almighty” (Job 8:5) that his troubles would go away. They said so in ignorance, not knowing that Job had been declared by God to be a man of “perfect integrity” (Job 1:8).
While certainly suffering gives us another opportunity to seek God and repent of any known sin, it would be unwise and unbiblical to assume that suffering means God has turned against us.
When explaining “the sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:18), Paul returns to the analogy of a birthing mother.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:22-25)
Again, a birthing mother groans in pain, but also in hope and expectation for the coming joy. We are waiting eagerly for the redemption of our bodies, but it hasn’t come yet. This is why a few verses later Paul tells us, “And 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)
Our pain isn’t meaningless, nor a sign of God’s displeasure. We can trust that every tear, every groan, every hardship will be redeemed. This is why Paul can so confidently say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Paul continues, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:31-32)?
Paul reminds us that through Christ, we are no longer condemned. No trouble, hardship, persecution, or danger can separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
4. God won’t forsake us.
Our hope pushes us to look forward, despite our suffering, to the day when Christ returns (Psalm 22:27).
Meanwhile, we remember that God has promised, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Or again, as Jesus said, “...surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
As we groan with expectation of Christ’s return to our broken, painful world, we know our joy will be all the greater when God dwells among us. Then, redeemed humanity will “be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
This is the great hope we have in Christ, deeper and wider than all of our dark days, for we know of the joy set before us.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelations 21:4-5)
Kimi Harris is a writer, mother of three, and wife of a pastor. She and her husband serve in the Midwest. Learn more about her writing at KimiHarris.com. You can also find her on Instagramand Twitter.
Photo Credit: GettyImages/splendens