Why do these things happen to us? Are we to attempt to explain why some people suffer a lot more than others? Why? There are many questions to which we have no answer. There is one question we can answer. What are we to do when suffering, sadness and sickness come our way? We can take it to the Lord in prayer. What are we to say about praying to the Lord in times of suffering, sickness and sadness? Is prayer like a magician’s wand? – We wave the magic wand, and ‘Hey Presto’, our sickness, sadness and sickness disappear! Sometimes, there are wonderful answers to prayer. Often, we must learn to live with suffering, sickness and sadness – and win the victory over the temptations that they bring to us. How are we to do this? There’s one thing we must not do. We must not turn away from the Lord. We must remember that He is with us – in the bad times as well as the good times.
In Psalm 38:2, we see the Psalmist suffering – “Your arrows have pierced me.” Perhaps, when we’re suffering, we feel that God is out to get us. We feel that he’s punishing us. We are sinners. We have fallen short of what God wants us to be. Sometimes, we create problems for ourselves. There are, however, times when we must ask, “Where do the ‘arrows’ come from?” Are we to think of them as “the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16)? Satan uses our sin to drive us away from the Lord. When we’re suffering, Satan tells us, “God has abandoned you.” What are we to do when this happens? We can join with the Psalmist in praying for the Lord’s help: “Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Saviour” (Psalm 38:21-22).
We come to the Saviour. We receive his salvation. David prayed to the Lord, the God of his salvation. He brought his many problems to the Lord – “troubles without number surround me” (Psalm 40:12). He brought his many sins to the Lord – “my sins have overtaken me” (Psalm 40:12). Did everything change the moment David prayed? No! David had to “wait patiently on the Lord” (Psalm 40:1). God blesses our faith. He doesn’t bless our impatience. God may have commanded his blessing, from above, but we, in our impatience, give up because things are not happening quickly enough for our liking. We long for Psalm 40:3 – “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”, but we may still be at the stage of Psalm 40:1 – patient waiting. In Job 19:17-20, we read these terrible words of suffering: “My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family. 18 Even the little boys scorn me; when I appear, they ridicule me. 19 All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. 20 I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth.” It’s not until Job 42 that we read about Job’s restoration. What about our suffering? Is there a future for us? We receive salvation here and now, but we must also wait patiently for the full revelation. In Job 19:25-27, we catch a glimpse of the wonderful future the Lord is preparing for us: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes — I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” In Revelation 21:3-5, we have a great description of the wonderful future towards which the Lord is leading us – “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” Whatever suffering we’re experiencing here on earth, may God give us the patient faith which looks beyond our suffering to his great salvation.