Help for When We Hurt

Help to Walk When It HurtsIn times of pain and loss, we most need comfort, peace, and hope. Yes, we might want tangible help, healing, and restoration but that doesn’t always happen right away. We need that which will help us walk through the valleys of life no matter how long it might take.

Check out the Walk the Walk Even When It Hurts Devotional for thirty devotions from Psalm 23 pointing to the Lord as your Shepherd who provides what you need to make it through even the shadow of death.

Sources of Help for When We Hurt

We can try to pull ourselves together but sometimes we are so emotionally wrung out, mentally exhausted, or physically depleted that we have little reserve to pull on. Perspective can become skewed when we hurt and we could lose all sense of hope.

We can wait for our circumstances to change but sometimes life gets worse rather than better or the change isn’t as we thought it should be. Prospects of a better life can allude us and so we become more anxious rather than finding a sense of peace and contentment.

We can expect other people to come to our rescue but sometimes they seem blind to our pain or fail to consistently show the compassion and understanding we need. Problems can be compounded by additional hurts from people we thought would be there for us and so we lack any sense of comfort.

Ultimate Source of Help for When We Hurt

We can’t rely on self, circumstances, or others. But, there is One who can give us what we truly need when we hurt — God, who is the God of all comfort, peace, and hope.

God of Comfort:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

Even when we find comfort from other people, it’s because of God. He is the ultimate source of comfort. God designed the Body of Christ to be there for one another in both the ups and downs of life, the joys and the sorrows. But, the Church is composed of imperfect human beings incapable of consistently showing unfailing love and compassion. Only God can be counted on at all times and in all circumstances. Let Him use other people through your grief and pain, but put your trust and ultimate reliance in Him for the comfort you need.

God of Peace:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:6-9)

We can’t dwell on our negative circumstances and expect to have peace. We won’t feel good when we dwell on the bad. When, however, we turn to the Lord who is good and works for our good, we can find rest for our souls in Him even when circumstances remain unchanged for He is the God of peace.

God of Hope:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

When we come to the realization that we can’t fix what’s wrong in this world, albeit even in our own lives, but that there is Someone who can and will one day right the wrongs, we can experience hope. We can believe God’s good purposes will prevail no matter what happens.

Persevering in our suffering lets us experience God in a way we otherwise would not know. It puts us in touch with the God of all comfort, peace, and hope — who is sufficient to help us when we hurt.

Let’s Rise Above

Have you ever cried out to the Lord with feelings similar to the Psalmist?

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. (Ps. 69:1-3)

By the time we get down to verse 30 of that Psalm, after rehearsing and assessing of his circumstances, we find him rising above in praise and thanksgiving.

How Can We Rise Above Our Circumstances?

  1. Perspective about this life helps us adjust expectations.

Rise Above the Mire
After speaking about how others mistreated him, we come to the “but” —

“But I pray to you, LORD” (v. 13).

He doesn’t deny the reality of what’s happening. Nor does he blame God or express that he shouldn’t have to experience these things. Rather, He turns to God.

When we get the attitude that we should be the exception to troubles in this world, that we shouldn’t have to suffer, that we’re entitled to a good life, then we’re bound to grumbling and complaining. However, when we acknowledge the truth as Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33) and find the “but”, then we can have peace and rise above. — Immediately following His reality check about the difficulties of life, Jesus says “BUT take heart! I have overcome the world.”

  1. Promises based on the character of God help us regain hope.

If we read through the entire Psalm 69 we notice hope beginning to take hold as the Psalmist speaks of God’s “sure salvation” or deliverance (v. 13, 29). He remembered how the Lord “hears the needy” (v. 33). He trusts God to answer him, to keep His promises, out of the goodness of His love and great mercy (v. 16).

We too, in Christ, hold on to many promises that grow out of the character of God and let us know we can be overcomers (1 Jn. 5:4-5). In this we can find hope in the midst of great difficulties when we believe that the One in us is greater than any other (1 Jn. 4:4).

To Read:

  1. Purpose founded in who we are in Him helps us look at the bigger picture.

In Psalm 69 we see the Psalmist go from what was happening to him personally to how God is there for all the poor and needy (v. 32-33), and then a call for the “heaven and earth” to praise God, even “the seas and all that move in them” (v. 34). He was able to move beyond his own troubles and needs because he knew what he experienced wasn’t the end of the story. As a Jew, the Psalmist knew God had a plan for His people, a future restoration (v. 35-36), which in itself was cause to rise above the muck and mire of this life.

As Christians, we know God has a future plan for us, a home in glory with Him where there will be no more suffering, no more tears. And so, we learn to set our “minds on things above, not on earthly things”, to view life from our position in Him (Col. 3:1-2).

With a realistic perspective on life, we cling to God’s promises and find purpose based on who we are in Him and what He is yet to do. The troubles of life begin to pale in comparison and we find ourselves able to rise above.

Strength & Courage Needed?

We live in turbulent times. We face many unknowns. The kind of strength and courage we need won’t come from within. Nor will we find it in our circumstances. We need the strength and courage Joshua, of the Old Testament times, needed as He faced many unknowns, seeking to lead a rebellious people.

Strength & Courage in Turbulent Times

Where Joshua Found Strength & Courage

God’s Promises

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from … No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. (Josh. 1:1-6)

God’s Presence

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you … Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Josh. 1:5, 9)

God’s Precepts

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Josh. 1:7-8)

Finding Strength & Courage Today

Need strength and courage? Though our circumstances may differ from Joshua’s and all the particular promises and precepts God gave him may not apply to us, we nonetheless serve the same God.

  • Reflect on the many promises throughout Scripture that apply to you. (2 Cor. 1:20; 7:1; Heb. 8:6; 10:23; 2 Pet. 1:3-4)
  • Remember that God is always with you. (Matt. 28:20; Rom. 8:38-39; Heb. 13:5)
  • Return to God’s Word over and over again for the guidance you need. (Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Possible Joy

Restoration of Joy PossibleIn the midst of trials and hardships we can still have joy — purposeful joy. While it may be difficult to imagine such joy when surrounded by so much turmoil, it is possible.

If we look at Bible verses about joy, we find some tips for attaining and keeping this joy in our hearts.

Cues from Bible Verses about How Joy is Possible

Raise your level of joy in the midst of whatever you face by doing the following:

1) Accept that there’s a bigger and better picture than what’s happening in the moment.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

fixing our eyes on Jesus … For the joy set before him he endured the cross … (Heb. 12:2)

2) Focus on God’s history of faithfulness to His people … and to you.

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Ps. 126:3)

3) Bask in God’s presence.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Ps. 16:11)

4) Focus on the Lord and what He can do rather than your circumstances.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

5) Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to produce this joy in you. — That which might seem humanly impossible is possible with Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Gal. 5:22)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Rom. 14:17)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

6) Pray that God would enable you to let go of that which is keeping you from His joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Ps. 51:12)

Purposeful Joy

What is purposeful joy? No, it’s not a term used in the Bible but I believe the concept is there, specifically in James 1:2-4.
Pure Joy - Purposeful Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

How is Joy Purposeful?

First, notice how we are to “consider it” joy when faced with trials. That’s a purposeful choice to let joy reign in our lives, not our circumstances.

The Greek word for “consider” (hegeomai) literally means to lead or go before, to have rule or authority over something. That means we don’t let our circumstances control us or pull us down. Instead, we choose to rise above by gaining perspective. We deem, or think about, our circumstances as joy — not just a glimmer of joy but “pure” joy. A better rendition for “pure joy” would be “all joy” as the Greek word (pas) means all, individually and collectively — complete.

Second, notice the reason for considering it joy when faced with trials. Trials have a purposeful outcome which give us a reason to grab hold of joy in adverse circumstances.

By looking at the big picture, that of the character trials build within us, we’re able to gain the perspective we need to choose joy. Persevering in hardships not only produces mature character but also leads to a sense of contentment in which we’re “complete, not lacking anything”. If we allow our circumstances to rule us, rather than considering them pure joy, we won’t arrive at this outcome.

Third, notice the expectation of life to not always be easy, filled with only “feel good” moments. “WHEN” not “IF” trials come, we can be prepared by having a purposeful plan already in place to combat human tendencies.

Jesus told us to expect problems when He said, “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn. 16:33). God uses His Word to prepare us. If we’re Bible illiterate, it’s going to be difficult, in the midst of trials, to grab hold of the perspective we need to purposefully choose joy. However, when we’re familiar with verses like James 1:2-4, we will be more likely to head in the direction of joy over despair, to let joy reign in our lives rather than our circumstances. We will need purposeful joy because it won’t come naturally. In the next post we’ll look at other Bible verses that show how this kind of joy is possible!

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Jesus’ Example in Suffering

As immorality creeps more and more into our society, with that which is unnatural and that which violates the standards of a holy God seen as normal, Christians who hold fast to the Word of God will more and more find themselves on the fringe, viewed as inflexible, intolerant, and even haters. To be sure, some “Christians” do take a more aggressive and antagonistic approach and reap what they sow. But, even those who do seek to “speak the truth in love” exercising both grace and truth, will undoubtedly find themselves increasingly under attack.

Jesus' Example in Suffering
(Click to enlarge in Pinterest & repin.)

Jesus was no stranger to criticism, betrayal, rejection, torture, and then paying the ultimate price of His life for righteousness sake. — “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Heb. 12:3-4)

What We Can Learn About Suffering From Jesus?

If we look at the first two verses of Hebrews 12, we can gain some understanding about the example Jesus provides for us.

1) There is a bigger picture to consider than our momentary suffering.

“Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured … ” 

Perhaps this was behind James’ exhortation to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) — If nothing else, our suffering has the potential of making us better people.

2) Sometimes we just have to endure whatever it is we are facing because of that bigger picture.

“Jesus … endured the cross”

Jesus did not try to escape His suffering. When his disciples wanted to fight Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place . . . Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matt. 26:52-54) — If we aren’t willing to endure some suffering, how is the greater good to come about?

3) As we endure the suffering, we must be careful not to succumb to the shame people try to throw on us.

“Jesus … endured the cross, scorning its shame”

Jesus didn’t retaliate against the insults thrown at Him. Rather, “when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Pet. 2:23) — If we don’t rise above the criticism,  how can we claim to be taking the Christ-like approach?

4) We can be assured that in the end, God will triumph over the suffering.

“and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”

Jesus didn’t remain in the grave. He triumphed over sin and death and one day every knee will bow to Him. “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:8-11) — If God was able to bring about such a glorious outcome from Jesus’ suffering, can’t we trust Him to take care of us?

Let’s remember that people are looking at not only how we react to the sin and immorality around us but also how we respond to their provocation or attacks because of it, to the resultant suffering we might experience. The passage we have used in this post began,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus …” (Heb. 12:1).

Let’s make sure we react properly for “how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” (1 Pet. 2:20) “… keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Pet. 3:16-17)