Some of the most comforting and clarifying words come from Isaiah 43:1-4. “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, Oh Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. … Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”
How do we react to serious trials and suffering?
Is our reaction fear and dismay? Does our world get rocked easily, do we get overwhelmed, confused, and our minds preoccupied? If we did not feel anything in light of life’s circumstances, we wouldn’t be human beings made in God’s image. We are designed to feel the pressures. Dismay and fear are natural responses when problems and stresses arise.
When trouble sets in, do we allow them to take claim of our thought lives? Does it become all we can talk about? Do the thoughts and fears wake us up at night? Are they the first thing on our minds when we wake up? Trouble and dismay can run a whole array of temptations. We can think on troubling things until we become filled with anxiety. We can think ourselves into believing our disappointments will disintegrate into hopelessness. We can go from worried to a panic attack or from mildly troubled to deeply enraged.
We can be so fearful of the emotional pain that we try all kinds of mental avoidance techniques to avoid the pain. We can try hard to stand aloof of the feelings by being cynical and stoic. We can avoid life because we are fearful of being hurt and pull ourselves into our turtle shell of self-protection.
We can wish to avoid pain, but Scripture never recommends isolation as an escape strategy. We will not see Scripture tell us to turn to foolish coping strategies of food, drink, or drugs. Hard times and trials give us a good reason to be fearful and anxious.
When we obsess over the suffering trying desperately to avoid it; we forget that God is with us. Are we so caught up in our own thinking that we cannot hear what God is telling us? Isaiah 41:9-10 gives us a reminder, “…I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God is talking to us can we hear Him. He is with us, we are not alone, we are not abandoned no matter what is happening.
Suffering can bring a secondary pain when others misunderstand us and respond poorly. Their reactions to us can add relational strife and isolation to the original problem. They can offer advice for solving the problem and be, well-meaning, but miss caring for us while in the midst the problem. Even when others abandon us the Lord answers, “I am with you.” When we fear God tells us that He is with us. When we are dismayed God tells us, He is our God. How do we reconnect with God and ourselves? We change as God finds us within His Words. God changes us when we can’t find ourselves because words of faith are words of sanity and reality. We change when we believe and trust the Lord.
The Lord gives a reason and response dynamic. As we wrestle with our hearts, He tells us not to be afraid because it is true that He will help us. He tells us not to be dismayed because it is true that He is our God. Reason it out with God asking Him to write what is true on your hearts.