It’s (Not) Going to Get Better

I’m not a pessimist. In fact, I tend far too much toward optimism. However, I’ve learned that belligerent optimism isn’t helpful when equally stubborn hardship prevails.

The reality is that we should expect suffering as a result of sin. Believers should expect the added difficulties of persecution and living apart from the pattern of the world. Whether we’re facing chronic illnesses with no cure or the persistent battle of loving others well, the truth is life often hurts.

Short of heaven “better” is always going to be a relative term.

Putting our hope and faith in optimism, or changing circumstances, or the next self-help fad, will leave us frustrated and disillusioned over and over again.

Yet we do have hope.

The Gospel is good news for the lost, suffering, weary sinners of this world. That means it’s good news for you and for me.

In Hope When It Hurts, by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, the good news of Jesus Christ is precisely and pointedly applied as balm to our suffering. From the very first chapter, their thesis is clear:

What I need, and you need, is the truth about Jesus Christ, because our suffering only makes sense and we only retain any hope when we look at ourselves through a gospel lens.”

Never offering pat answers or platitudes, Hope When It Hurts proceeds to offer the framework of a gospel perspective on suffering. A reality check on pride’s role in our response to suffering stretches readers to shift their eyes to the only real hope we have -and the only real purpose we live for (hint: it’s not our comfort or convenience.)

Several chapters address the opportunities afforded to us by our suffering.

Unlike messages staking our hope in optimism for changing circumstances or everything working out for the better, Hope When It Hurts stakes everything on God. In short, easy-to-read, but in-depth chapters, the authors highlight practically why we:

  • Have hope
  • Don’t have to be shaken
  • Can persevere
  • Take heart in suffering
  • Are freed from agonizing over making sense of pain
  • Worship God in everything and anything

Straight-shooting, personal messages treat the ache from the inside out with words like these:

“…when you are in the darkness…and you begin to question God’s love for you, remember what it true: Jesus Christ was sent into the world because God loves you. There is not greater demonstration of his affection for you, and there is no clearer proof that he intends to make good of what you are enduring right now. The who was struck down on the cross is the One who could not be destroyed and, because He is for you, neither will you be. He is your light. Draw near to Him.”

It’s true. Paul, while enduring final imprisonment and reaching out to his loved ones as his earthly days dwindled, proclaimed hope when it hurts: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18.)

Even if it never gets better in this lifetime. Even if a gruesome, painful death is how we’re safely delivered into His heavenly kingdom, the Lord will rescue us and bring us to Him.

temporary

Paul follows these words with praise- “To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

This book follows suit. Although atypical and unexpected for a book on suffering, this message carries the broken to worship and eases the hurting into praise.

As much a devotional as a book of reflections on suffering and Gospel hope, Hope When It Hurts renews and refreshes believers. Instead of saying “it’ll get better,” readers are reminded of what already is better: the true, joyous, incredible hope we have despite our often-unchanging, hopeless suffering.


<This review was provided in exchange for a free preview copy of Hope When It Hurts from the Good Book Company.>

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

In Medicine We Trust

{The third installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Disclaimer before the outrage: I go to the doctor. I believe the Lord blessed us with brains and am thankful that He has led so many into the medical field and can work so much healing through medical intervention.

I also believe that if the Lord has plans for sickness, death, or healing, He can trump any amount of (or deficit of) medical help.

I believe that coughs, chronic illnesses, and even terminal diseases can remind us of God’s power as He heals, offers comfort, and even takes away. These hardships can bring to our attention the need for the one who is in control.

But often, health issues tempt us to trust in medicine instead of in the great physician.

in Medicine we trust final

It’s hard not to divide our trust between treatments, therapies, medications…and God.

When symptoms are persistent and relief won’t come, we often act like medical help will take care of the stuff that God doesn’t seem to be doing anything about. Prescriptions and diagnoses from man trump the prayer He prescribes and the truth He speaks about who we are.

This is where I trip up. Where you might, too. We need to recognize that:

  1. Medicine isn’t as reliable or as capable as our Lord.

No medical intervention can give back time. It can’t beat death. No pharmaceutical whosawhatzit can make any guarantee. The back of every bottle and the fine print on every form make that clear.

Plus, surgeries fail. Medicines don’t do all they are believed to. Unexpected side effects can be worse than the primary issue. Therapies work for a little while. Mistakes are made and treatments carried out to perfection don’t always suffice.

There’s a reason doctors and nurses need prayer. They need someone to trust in too.

Folks, our trust is misplaced when we put it into tools instead of the One using them. I know this because I’ve seen the tools snap. Fail. Break. Twist into lies. Leave no hope.

I love Isaiah’s words:

“Stop trusting in mere humans,

who have but a breath in their nostrils.

Why hold them in esteem?

Isaiah 2:22

What I’ve learned over and over again: stop trusting in mere humans and their created solutions. They are not to be esteemed over the one who created them and continues to create and give life.

Doctors and the help they offer are instruments in the hands of the one who is over all. Wonderful instruments, but merely that.

———

  1. Health can become an idol.

Our bodies are as temporary as money, emotions, stuff, titles, and anything else in this world. Medicine, used to help the body, is as finite as man. Medicine will not be necessary in that long-awaited day when there is no more pain or suffering.

Medicine should not be where our security lies in this life.

Death doesn’t even care if you’re healthy.

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Our bodies will fail us. Death will come no matter what shape we’re in. Though health is a blessing in this lifetime, our health is another means to a very certain end.

Medical help preserves for a time. But it doesn’t not save. Medicine cannot heal souls.

We need God more than we need people in lab coats. We need God more than hospital beds and looming drugstore aisles. We need God more than answers to medical mysteries.

In fact, we need God more than we need strength, well-being, and health at all.

Can I repeat that?

Praise the Lord that He reaches past the tools and farther than man can find to go. He reaches to the very soul. His hands are at work healing what cannot be touched by any scope, scan, or blood test.

He heals us Himself, with or without instruments. He heals what matters most.

The mere word of the Lord can give life where there is none.

We have hope, because of Christ, in the hospital where there is none. Hope in the inexplicable. Security in the ongoing suffering. Unfailing aide in the weakness that He won’t seem to remove from our side.

Let’s not get caught up trusting that if we care enough for our physical persons, we’ll be alright. Let’s not get so engrossed in healing that we fail to see what’s most broken.

But please, yes, let’s praise the maker of medicine for every good gift He gives!

Let’s entrust our mortal selves to the one who heals even the soul eternally.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing each Monday on something (or someone) I tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

Writers and non-writers are welcome to submit guest posts. Contact me hereby June 5th telling me what you trust in besides God and how He helps you trust Him more.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.