I was sitting in a Beth Moore Bible study when God rattled me with this verse. It has been inside of me before, but it hadn’t been in my soul lately. Since then, it hasn’t really left.
I think why this struck me so powerfully is because of how painful suffering truly is. The pain we encounter personally and through others contends against this verse’s truth, trying to tamp it out and swallow it whole. We often wonder like David did in Psalm 13 if God has forgotten us because the hardship is so great. We wonder how anyone can survive this world and its brokenness.
When Jesus faced the darkest night of His soul, He humbly asked that it might pass but then went on to pray the most amazing, costly, holy prayer I have ever heard—“not My will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) In so doing, He showed us how much He trusted His Father’s faithfulness to carry Him through the gaping evil coming after Him. In the midst of His trial, He opened Himself up in complete vulnerability to the capable hands of His Father.
But during our suffering, we typically can be found in fetal positions trying desperately to banish any and every hurt from our lives. It is very hard for us to be vulnerable and open to even God during these times. The idea of letting Him work in our pain causes us to sweat our own drops of blood.
I have been in some rather wicked lands of suffering just like you have. That is one thing that unites us all—we live together in this brokenness. We all bear the burden of Adam and Eve’s taste of sin in the Garden. Though God’s common grace upholds us all and reveals so much of His beauty still, we all share a common table of sin and its fallout—a world with sickness, death, and temptation.
Nevertheless (such a faith-filled word), He has not left us at that table. Redemption sprang forth right after that loss in our Garden. As He tenderly clothed his wayward children, His restoration had begun. And over time, He called out a people to show His grace and reveal His mercy and truth, lighting up the whole world with His witness through them. As He promised to Abraham, the entire earth would be blessed because of the people coming through him (Gen. 12:3); God wanted to redeem not just the Israelites but all people from the very beginning.
Measure upon measure of redemption—the law, the covenants, nature itself with its cycle of death and resurrection among myriad other graces of restoration— have come. But, none compare to His Son. Immanuel—God with us—Who came to be the Lamb for our Passover. Now, those of us in Christ have been passed over; death can no longer hold us because it did not hold Him. This is how much God can do through suffering—conquer sin, vanquish death—literally save… the… world.
In the end, we have to face whether we are willing to open ourselves up to our Father, just as Jesus did, to bear fruit in the midst of our own wanderings and devastated lands. Are we willing to let everything be redeemed— or are there pockets in our spirits we are not willing to open up to His work? Are we able to trust that His redemptive power is big enough for every evil—internal and external-- we encounter?
As I have wrestled with this, I want to journey in a way that lets Him rain havoc in my darknesses—both the ones I harbor and the ones with which the Evil One attacks me. May Yahweh God plow, till, and transform every darkness, planting seeds of hope, redemption, restoration, and peace where once there was stronghold, sin, attack, siege. May we follow our example and Savior, Jesus— learning, yielding, and allowing Yahweh to bear in us the fragrant, costly fruit that can be reaped in the crucible of every trial.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11)