Hope And Comfort In A World Of Suffering
 
By Rich Carmicheal

    We are all too aware that there is much human suffering throughout the world. The days are evil (Eph. 5:16) and the perilous times the Bible states would come in the last days are upon us (2 Tim. 3:1-4). Iniquity abounds (Matt. 24:12), and many people are suffering from their own sin or from the sin of others, or because of the impact of evil in a broken world.

    Thankfully, the Lord knows us intimately and fully sympathizes with our pain and sorrow. He Himself has suffered terribly and is deeply moved by our suffering (John 11:33-35; Luke 7:12-13; 1 Pet. 5:7). He "is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psa. 34:18).

The Lord’s Sustaining Power

    There are times that the pressures against us or our loved ones can be so great that we may feel like the Apostle Paul who wrote, "…We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life" (2 Cor. 1:8). However, our troubles are never beyond the Lord’s strength! Paul acknowledged this as he went on to share that he had placed his trust and hope in the Lord and was confident that God would deliver him from the peril (vv. 9-10). Consider, as well, David’s testimony: "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help…. He sent from on high, He took me, He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me…" (Psa. 18:6, 16-19).

    Our Lord is Almighty and has infinite resources to sustain us when our own resources, or the resources of others, fail. He is the God of Peace, who grants us peace beyond understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ (Phil. 4:7). He is the "God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction" (2 Cor. 1:3-4). He is our Shepherd who brings us through the darkest valley and who comforts us with His rod and staff (Psa. 23:4). He is the omnipotent God who gives us strength when we are weary (Isa. 40:29-31), and who strengthens us with all power according to His glorious might so that we may persevere (Col. 1:11). He is forever faithful to us, and nothing can separate us from His love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord – not tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, nor death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing! (Rom. 8:35-39).

    No matter how great the pressure, trouble or anguish, the promise remains true: "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you…" (Psa. 55:22). He is indeed "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psa. 46:1).

    His Presence and resources are so great, in fact, that we can trust Him to work good even in the midst of our suffering. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Because of His mighty power to accomplish His sovereign purposes, we can entrust ourselves to Him and know that our suffering is not in vain.

All Things Set Right!

    We can also take comfort in the truth that one day the Lord is going to bring a complete and final end to everything that is wrong. He too is grieved by the evil and sin in our fallen world (Gen. 6:5-6; Eph. 4:30-31), and Christ has already come to confront evil and deal with sin at the greatest possible cost to Himself. He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and has already won the decisive victory over evil and sin through His death on the Cross (Col. 2:15). One day His victory will be fully realized as all His enemies are put in subjection to Him, and the last enemy, death, is abolished (1 Cor. 15:25-27).

    The time is coming when everything will be set right. The Lord is with us even now, strengthening and sustaining us as we suffer, and one day He will deliver us completely from every evil deed and bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom! (2 Tim. 4:17-18). God Himself will dwell among us and "shall wipe away every tear from [our] eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain" (Rev. 21:3-4).

The Return of Christ and the Hope of Heaven

    We look forward, therefore, to the "blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13). We take comfort in the wonderful truth that one day Jesus Himself "will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thes. 4:16-18).

    In keeping with His promise, "we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13). While we cannot on this side of heaven fully comprehend all that is in store, we nevertheless find great comfort and hope in knowing that the life to come is eternal, beautiful, full of life and righteousness, free from any evil or sin or death, and lived forever in the blessed glory of the presence of the Lord! "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).

Our Ministry to Others

    As the Lord fills our lives with hope and comfort, and as He renews our strength day by day, He wants us in turn to minister to others. There are obviously people in great need all around us, and the Lord wants us to do all that we can, making the most of every opportunity to minister to them. He blesses us so that we may bless others. He "comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor. 1:4).

    Not only is His comfort to flow through our lives, but so is all of His manifold grace. As the Apostle Peter writes, "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another…serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:7-10). God entrusts His manifold grace to us so that it may flow through our lives and impact the lives of others. And in this lost and hurting world, many people are in desperate need of that grace.

    They need our prayers. They need our love. They need our compassion and support. They need our encouragement and comfort. They need us to hold forth the Word of life. They need us to be light and salt. They need us to show them the way to Christ. They need to see in us the glory of our Lord.

Be Spirit-filled

    This issue of the Herald focuses especially on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. How appropriate this is for this hour when we realize perhaps more than ever how very limited our own resources are. We need the Spirit’s empowering for our own lives and for our ministry to others. We need...

...His overflowing life (John 7:38)
...His overflowing love (Rom. 5:5)
...His abundant hope (Rom. 15:13)
...His mighty strength (Eph. 3:16)
...His comfort and help (John 14:26)
...His joy and peace (Rom. 14:17)
...His wisdom and truth (John 14:17; Eph. 1:17)
...His gifting for ministry (1 Cor. 12)
...His help as we pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Eph. 6:18).

    Let us press in to the Lord that we might be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit – for our sake and for the sake of the world around us.

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We hope to hear from you soon!

Herald of His Coming
P.O. Box 279
Seelyville IN 47878 U.S.A.