On Pain and Thankfulness

Its our human commonality…pain and suffering. Some of us suffer at the hands or words of others, some of us bring pain and suffering upon ourselves by choosing to follow our own sinful desires, some of us are afflicted with sickness and disease, some of us hurt because those we love are suffering, some of us are dealing with loss, some of us experience darkness and pain and we don’t know why...

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:1

When David writes this Psalm he is hiding from King Saul, in the desert of Judah. He is being pursued relentlessly by a powerful man who is motivated by murderous anger. As we see in many of the Psalms written during this time in his life, David is suffering greatly. This description of a dry and weary land draws my attention to the battle that is going on within David.  He is a man whose body must have craved a reprieve from the relentless exhausting pursuit of his life (Ps. 6). In the midst of this, his mind must have battled the lies from the enemy as the accusations of evil, bloodthirsty men made their way to his ears (Ps. 5). And his heart must have battled the heaviness that enduring suffering brings - oh how he must have desired for the pain to end!

Yet David’s heart craves God.

When I read this Psalm this summer, I was forced to ask what my heart was craving in the midst of the suffering I was experiencing, and I didn’t like the answer…

I crave rest
I crave the absence of pain
I crave perfection
I crave approval
I crave control

Further, I had to ask, where am I seeking the fulfillment of these cravings? Where do I run? What lies am I believing? What do I fear? And most importantly, where is God in the midst of this??

David cries out to God,

“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;”
Psalm 63:3-6

Ah, satisfaction! The truth is, water isn’t enough when you are in a dry and weary land - the removal of pain or altering of our circumstances will never satisfy what our hearts crave. True satisfaction, that fulfillment of the yearnings within the deepest part of our hearts, will only be found in the truth of who Jesus is as our Redeemer. As David writes, God’s steadfast love is better than life itself!

So what difference does this make to you and me as we endure suffering of various kinds? If we lived as though Jesus’s love for us (demonstrated in his life, death and resurrection) were enough - that it spoke of his unchanging, trustworthy good character that works to turn evil and suffering for good - how would our experience of suffering be different?

Would we praise our God for the work He was doing in us and those around us?
Would we endure through our suffering in Jesus name (trusting Him in the midst)?
Would we be satisfied?
Would we have joy in our hearts, knowing that God was at work?
Would we meditate on God and His word instead of our circumstances?

“for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.”
Psalm 63:7-11

Would we acknowledge where our help comes from?
Would we cling to the trustworthy hand of God?
Would we trust God as the one true judge over the evil done against us?

If we lived as though Jesus’s love for us were enough in our times of suffering...

would we be thankful?

*If you are interested in learning more about what God is doing in and through the suffering you have experienced or are currently experiencing, consider participating in our Care Ministry.

Jodi Adrian is the wife of Pastor Jer and mother of their four awesome kids, Cole, Halle, Elle and Braeli. She is heavily involved in leadership in the Biblical Counselling here at Westside, ministering through individual counseling and marriage counseling, as well as providing leadership within the Care Ministry.

Categories: Classes,Counselling,Suffering,Wisdom,Written