In the midst of Job’s suffering, he remarked, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
We might sometimes lament, “Why does life have to be so hard?”
God didn’t originally create life to be so troublesome in Eden. But sin affected everything, from the people God created to the earth they lived in (Genesis 3). Humans had work to do before sin entered the world (Genesis 2:15). But it would have been something like working at your favorite hobby with nothing going wrong. However, after sin entered the world, part of God’s curse was that thorns and thistles would spring up and labor would cost sweat and pain (Genesis 3:16-19).
Besides daily work becoming hard, personal relationships would suffer because now everyone would have a sin nature. Misunderstandings, anger, selfishness, pride, and more would war in hearts and against others. The very first person born to Adam and Eve murdered his brother.
And human history went downhill from there.
Each of us has experienced the fallenness of the world.
From early childhood we fall and get scraped up, hear taunts, teasing, and put-downs from other children, get into trouble when we do wrong, feel misunderstood and mistreated.
As teenagers we either strive to get into the popular crowd and then not lose our place, or we lament that we’ll always be on the outside. Then there’s acne, puberty, hormones, questions about the future.
As adults we struggle to make a living against increasing prices. Workplace feuds and misunderstandings crowd out enjoyment in our jobs. Someone else gets the promotion we were due. Someone takes the credit for our idea.
We struggle against our own sin nature and lament the continual pull of selfishness.
As we get older, aches and pains take over our bodies. Sight dims, and we can’t do the things we used to.
Along the way, friends and loved ones get sick and die. Innocent little children get cancer. Car crashes maim or kill loved ones. Murders and wars increase.
We try to share our faith, but people mostly don’t want to hear it. Some will actively persecute us. There are countries where sharing Christianity and handing out Bibles is a crime and conversion is punishable by death.
We have needs. Our families have needs. Friends have needs. Our country has needs and opposite opinions about how to deal with them. Our church has needs. The world at large has needs. Orphans, widows, victims, medical research, so many needs that are more than we can even begin to manage.
When we feel the weight of a fallen world, we’re tempted to just crawl into a corner and wait for it to be over.
But thinking of that weight, Paul says, “ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). In another place he says:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Once when we came across this passage in a ladies’ Bible study, one of the women had been going through a terrible physical battle. She was a little hurt and angry that the Bible seemed to brush off her heavy affliction as light.
But Paul isn’t minimizing the affliction. He’s saying our glory will be greater than our affliction. Sin, tears, pain, mourning, loss, problems, as weighty as they are, will seem lightweight and short-lived compared to what we’ll experience when Jesus comes for His own. Speaking of that time, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage [some translations say ‘comfort’] one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:8).
‘Well,” we might be thinking, “that will be great when we get to heaven. But is there no hope and help til then?”
Just before that section in 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (4:16).
God gives grace and strength to meet every trial. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
God invites us to cast our care on Him (1 Peter 5:7).
God gives strength in our weakness. “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. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Jesus sympathizes with our weakness and promises grace to help in time of need. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. 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 4:14-16).
Okay, it’s a relief to know we have God’s help to get through this life. But what about joy? Do we just bear with life til it’s over?
No, God gives joy as well. He gives physical blessings: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:14-15).
He gives comfort in sorrow. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).
Joy is one aspect of the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in believers (Galatians 5:22-23).
He gives us the joy of His presence: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God” (Psalm 43:4).
When the world is too much, we can’t hide our head in the sand. But neither can we solve the world’s problems. We’re not meant to. We only need to walk in fellowship with “God our exceeding joy,” take everything to Him in prayer, and do what He calls us to within our sphere of influence.
As the hymn says:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
From “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Obediah Chisholm
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