Everyone has trials. We’re either in one or going into one soon. So what do you do when you know that you’re supposed to love God and loves others, pray for and share with others, but you’re having issues in your own life?
1. Lament well
Often when we are struggling with a trial we feel the need to suppress our emotions or to “tough it out.” Granted, there is something to be said about putting things in perspective. Certain things really are not worth crying about if you can help it. However, on the other hand, the world really is broken. There is sin and suffering in the world that ought not to be. Even though the sadness a child feels after dropping an ice cream cone is not as devastating as she might think at the time, the fact remains that it is still a little bit sad, and it’s OK to say that. More so however, the terrible loss of a friend, bad news from the doctor, persevering depression despite every effort cling to Christ in the sorrow, work stress, family struggles, a miscarriage, feelings of regret about an abortion, etc. these things are worth lamenting over. The trick is to lament well. Lamenting well looks like being really honest with God. It looks like being honest with your Christian friends about the trial. It looks like honestly asking God why he’d let this happen, and it looks like trusting in him if he doesn’t tell you why. It looks like praising God in the pain. It looks like trying to pray and trying to sing and trying to read the Word even when you’re in the dark because you believe God is the source of all hope.
2. Find Peace in God’s Promises = Christ
David is an expert lamenter. He was one whose “tears were his food day and night,” one who had a “downcast soul” and one who felt that there was “darkness all around him.” Many counselors have ventured to say that David even struggled with depression (as Charles Spurgeon, John Piper, Andy Alcorn and other saints have done). Being hunted down by a deranged madman for years on end would certainly warrant it. See how David expresses his lamentation and finds peace in God’s promises.
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
He finds solace in the fact that, even if it’s hard for now, he will in fact praise God again. God, the one whom he calls savior, his personal God, he will stand so much in awe of him again that praise wells up inside of his soul. Note that David ends the psalm with this question. He doesn’t necessarily find happiness (although many lamenting psalms end on a happy note), but he does find peace in God. The best we can do is to end our lamentation in singing and praise. The worst is to end the prayer knowing we have hope in Christ and that joy will come in the morning. True Peace. Not a bad worst-case-scenario. This is the hope of the believer. Even if our entire life is pain, it will end and it will be gone forever.
3. Be Broken for Those Who Cannot do the Same Both Now and Forever
For the lost, however, the opposite is true. Even if their entire life is joy and gladness, it will end and it will be gone forever. They don’t have the ability to honestly tell their soul, “put your hope in God,” or “your savior will bring you peace,” and they never will unless they hear and believe.
Let the full pain of your hurt come to fruition. Find peace in Christ right there when it hurts the most, and then allow this to be a small taste of how eternity for the lost will feel. Let that brokenness that you will only feel for a life-time at the most break your heart for the lost, for the Hui. Allow that brokenness to pour out into prayers for the Hui and to action. Make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. Let your actions multiply until the nations are reached and until you can honestly say that there are people in your life who will never have to feel sadness for the next billion years after death because you did not let your sadness stop with your own situation but you allowed it to point you toward Christ and toward those who do not know him.
Be like Jesus. He endured the worst trial of his life but still pitied others more than himself, even begging for their forgiveness while he suffered on the cross. He knew he would be back in three days with only physical scars to show from his experience. He also knew that if those people did not repent they would endure God’s wrath for a lifetime.
I’m certainly not saying our disciple-making and evangelism numbers should shoot through the roof when we hear that our little brother was just diagnosed with cancer. I am, however, saying that this situation should in some way deepen our desire for Christ to return and for the lost to know him. I am in some way saying that the shock that someone we love has cancer in their body should lead us to lament the fact that millions of Hui have a far worse sickness of the soul and that if they die without hearing the gospel they will continue dying for the next billion years. I am saying these truths naturally lead to action on their behalf.
I am saying that we are wasting our trial if we don’t love God and love the lost just a little bit more after experiencing suffering in our own lives. I’d never place a burden on those in pain, but I would encourage you not to waste it. Let this be the season that you say, “It was hard, but I let the hurt swell into prayer for the lost, for the Hui and for the nations.” Let our pain be someone else’s healing. That’s what Christ did after all.
On a personal note, I’ve been dealing with depression for months now. It’s been incredibly hard. I honestly don’t know why God is allowing this to happen, but I have often thought of all of the prayers that I’ve prayed for the Hui during this season. If I get to Heaven and see a Hui sister standing beside me and find out that, because of my depression-caused-prayers, she is able to join me there, I’ll be delighted. I don’t know what God is doing. I feel like I’d be a lot more use to the Hui if I weren’t feeling this way, but I know it’s best for his glory, best for me and even best for the Hui. I’m trusting that. I plan not to waste this season however long it may last.
In summary: Lament well, find peace in God’s promises in Christ and be broken for those who cannot do the same both for now and for eternity.
A worker with the Hui for His glory,