—by Wes Tubel
Every week at Hope Counseling Services, we walk alongside people who are in the midst of intense suffering. The causes of suffering are many: broken relationships, death of a loved one, unfulfilled desires, health issues, and other forms of loss just to name a few. Regardless of the root cause, one of the common questions any of us ask in our suffering is “why?”
A couple weeks ago in Adult Christian Education, we had a thoughtful conversation around this very topic. We had been studying the book of Job, and the lecturer highlighted that at the end of the day, we do not know all (most?) of the reasons why we continue to experience pain and suffering.
Our discussion that Sunday has had me thinking a lot this week about the counsel we provide to others in the midst of their darkest sorrows. What comfort in suffering can we offer? Or to put the question a different way, what do we know in our suffering?
There are many ways God orients us to faith and trust in the midst of suffering. Here are two precious realities we have in and through Christ:
1) God, himself, takes note of our tears. Psa. 56:8 tells us that God puts tears in hisbottle. The context of the Psalm is intense suffering at the hands of other people. And in the midst of the trials, God sees the impact the suffering has on David. God is not distant, passively watching us endure our misery. He is grieved and moved by the affliction of his people, and he sees the distress of our souls (Psa. 31:7).
2) God, himself, will one day wipe away every tear from every one of his people’s eyes, according to Rev. 21:4. Recently I was struck with the intentionality of God to wipe away our tears. Two things stood out to me from this verse. First, it seems to indicate that we will enter eternity with tears, a sobering reminder that our suffering will last until Jesus Christ returns. But second, it is a beautiful thought to realize that our tears don’t simply disappear. God, himself, will wipe all of our tears away. The work Jesus began in his life, death, and resurrection will be completed when he returns, and we enter our eternal home.
When someone comes to Hope Counseling in the midst of their grief and sorrow, we aim to walk patiently, wisely, and carefully. Each suffering is different. We aim to understand as much as we can about the particular details. And at the same time, we want to offer a drink of Living Water in the midst of the pain and hurt. We want to offer True Hope in the midst of their questioning. And we desire to be a safe place for all to speak honestly about what they are facing, in order to also experience the comfort that God alone can provide.
If you know of anyone who needs help and support, please let them know about Hope Counseling Services. And please pray that all of our counselors would have wisdom to know how to speak a helpful and hopeful word for each person’s time of need.