Surviving Our Seasons of Sufferingby Cynthia Jennings on April 7, 2021
Longsuffering isn’t a word we want to be a part of our story. Longsuffering mean having or showing patience DESPITE troubles. None of us want trouble, let alone have troubles for extended periods of time.
Jeremiah 29 gives us encouragement for when we’re not sure we can endure seasons of suffering. In this passage of scripture, the children of Israel got news from the prophet Jeremiah that they were going to be held captive by Babylon for 70 years. Seventy years seems impossibly long when you’re talking about being captive, like a lifetime of hardship without a lifeline of hope.
As children of God no matter how tough the suffering may be, God will always remind of us His promise. “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you …” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).
God is assuring His people that His thoughts and intentions toward them are fixed and established. His plans are for their “welfare,” not for their harm. His sure and steady promise is one of restoration. But God also reminds them of what they must do as they await the fulfilment of His promise. They need to call on Him as well as intentionally and wholeheartedly seek Him. This not only applied to the children of Israel, this applies to us today as well.
When we seek God, we see God. We don’t see Him in physical form, but we see Him at work. God is working even if we don’t see or understand what He’s doing. If our hearts are willing to trust God, we will begin to see Him in our circumstances.
When we find ourselves in an incredibly disappointing place---a place we don’t want to be—it’s easy to start feeling that some of God’s good plans don’t apply to us. We can even lapse into the mentality that God doesn’t care about us.
The truth is, God is closer than we often realize. He sees things we don’t see, and knows things we don’t know. God declares He is our Rescuer, the One who will sustain us. And He is more than able to bring His plans for our lives to pass. (Psalm 119:114; Psalm 71:2; Isaiah 46:4).
All these things were true for the Israelites. And they’re true for us. But we must trust God at His Word.
For the Israelites, the news that they would be in captivity for 70 years was absolute reality. The truth that God had a good plan and a purpose, not to harm them but to give them a future and a hope was also an absolute reality. That promise was very much in process all while they were in captivity.
I don’t know any of us who have suffered as did the Israelites while in captivity. Yet God’s promise was in process. So, before you jump ship and yell “I can’t take this suffering any longer.” Remember God’s promises for you are in process as well. Even in circumstances where you can’t see any evidence of good. Just remember, “not yet” doesn’t mean “not ever.”
While in the midst of suffering, continue to earnestly seek God’s heart and ask Him to help you look at your circumstances through the lens of certainty of who He is even when uncertainty is staring you in your face.
Our longsuffering won’t seem nearly as long or nearly as painful when we understand God’s perspective is to use every single second of our suffering for His good.
PEARLStoPONDER: Are you complaining about your suffering or are you trusting God promises?
Psalm 22:1-5- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel.4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Psalm 34:1-4-- I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Acts 16:25-26--25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened.