When we are afflicted by the devastating trials of this life it can feel like we are being held underwater. It’s tough to hear, hard to breathe, and frightening. We panic. We get anxious. This is understandable. Life in this broken world is filled with heart-shredding trials that leg-sweep us surprisingly.
In the midst of this it is very important to remember to focus on what we know and not what we do not know. The common question is “why?” This is something we know in part but not in full. In the context of the big picture we understand that the answer to the “why” question is that we live in a post Genesis 3 world. However, the specific nuanced answer to “why” is unknown. We don’t know precisely “why.”
But we do know who God is and how he acts. This is tremendously comforting. In fact, when Job was laid low by trial he never received the answer to the “why” question but he did get a lengthy exposition of the “who.” It may seem like a theological copout but if you are spending time “under-water” in the midst of the waves of the trial then you need something objective, you need to clasp ahold of a dock.
The “who” aspect is expansive. And this theological railing is sufficient to bear your weight, the full range of human emotions.
When you need to be comforted (and you will) or when your brother/sister needs to be comforted (and they will), then comfort them with truth. Here is a sampling of statements and corresponding verses.
1. God is Sovereign. Nothing happens outside of his control.
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)
2. God is Good. He is good and does good.
“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)“You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” (Psalm 119:68)
3. God is Just. He will always do what is right.
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”” (Genesis 18:25)
4. God is Holy. He is pure and without compromise.
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”” (Revelation 4:8)
5. God is Unchangeable. He will never change, he is as he has always been.
““For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)
6. God is Infinite. His power is unstoppable.
“Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Psalm 147:5)
7. God is Faithful. He always keeps his promises.
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)
8. God is Wise. He knows what is right and always does it.
“to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:27)
9. God is Personal. He knows you and everything about you.
“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:13–14)
10. God is Sympathetic. He sympathizes with you in your weakness.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
11. God is Gracious. He gives us what we do not deserve.
“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 4:7)
12. God is Merciful. He bids us to come to his throne of grace to find help and mercy in our time of need.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4)
13. God is Loving. He loves us redemptively. This means that he has seen our worst and made atonement for it. His love is secure.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 39)
14. God is Working. He is not distant or disinterested. In the midst of the storm he calms the wildest, frightening, hearts of emotion and pain.
“But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”” (John 5:17)
“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”” (Acts 14:17)
15. God is Independent. He does not rely on anyone else for anything else. He alone is God.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
16. God is Sufficient. You do not need to go to anyone else. He can fully bear the weight of all human pain and suffering.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
See also Ps. 46.
When I feel myself capsized by a trial I claw my way to Romans 8. These words of comfort sing like angels to my heart. Two verses in particular:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
In the first we are reminded that the Sovereign and Good God will work all things together for good for us. He is able to make a masterpiece out of our mess. He is able to turn our weeping into joy. We have to believe this.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
In the second, we read that God has proved his love for us in and through Jesus. When I feel alone and succumb to doubting I have to remember to look at the cross. There on Golgotha, Jesus was affixed to a wooden cross. This communicated a myriad of things but none louder to the Christian than this: God loves you in Christ! He has proved his love and faithfulness to you by means of the cross. Therefore, you can and must trust him!!
It is important then to resist the temptation to interpret God’s character through the lenses of our circumstances. Instead, we have to interpret our circumstances through the lenses of God’s character. He is the rock that provides stability and comfort in need.