Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.
Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”
And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.
Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.
It’s easy to say, “God, you are always good,” when life seems to be going well.
It’s easy to say, “I have complete and total faith,” when life is smooth and straightforward.
It’s easy to say, “I am content in all circumstances,” when the circumstances are simply sparkling and comfortable.
It’s easy to say, “I know Your love, Lord, and I can feel it all around me,” when we’re experiencing that beautiful, tangible love.
It’s easy to say, “I am at peace,” when our lives are calm, and we’re gently breezing by.
And we can so many times see people around us saying these things, and on the surface, it seems like their lives must be so ridiculously easy. And it then follows for us to say, “They can be content because their life is easy; mine is so complicated, therefore, I must not be able to experience that.”
And when it’s all written out like that, direct and right in front of our faces on a screen or on paper, maybe it seems a little silly. But honestly, we whisper these lies to ourselves because we may not have ever experienced anything better.
I refuse to believe that those times, those amazing, smooth, easy times in our lives are the only times where we can have real, authentic peace, and hope, and joy, and contentment, and assurance, and have the presence of God.
I refuse to believe that contentment is conditional – that grace only applies when we’re mostly good – that hope only exists when we can visibly see it.
This verse is terrifyingly beautiful here, where Paul refers to his suffering in Asia – take a look.
2 Corinthians 1:9-10
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”
In the most impossible of situations, we can yet have hope. We can yet let our faith be strong.
Because the thing about faith is that it isn’t always a tangible experience. The good things in our lives? They’ll come and go. Items, and even other humans are temporary and ultimately uncontrollable.
And if joy was contingent upon something fleeting, where would its beauty be?
No, I believe that God has so much more for us than the shallow happiness we settle for instead of joy. That hope – the hope we find in Christ alone – is greater than any fear we could ever face. That contentment has much more to do with finding strength in Christ than it does with circumstances.
There is no secret formula for understanding how to find strength in Christ. It’s not about the commandments you keep or how long you pray or how much Christian music you listen to.
I find it to be this process – of learning to live my life to honor the One who gave it to me in the first place – of believing that when He leads me, He will provide for me and that all I must do is trust that He has a purpose, even when I can’t see it.
It’s a journey of examining why we let ourselves become so disheartened by the very things Christ cleansed us from on the cross and finding that soft-burning spark again that reminds us why we have such beautiful freedom in the first place.
It’s about stepping out fearlessly, because what is there to fear when our Creator is on our side?
It’s about complete and total reliance upon the One who holds the world together, and yet cares about our small, fragile lives.
It’s about learning to rest in the love of the One who gave His life for ours; even when we can’t “feel” the squishy-love feelings, we can know for a fact that His love for us is unending. Unconditional. Completely free.
It’s about accepting grace. Even when we don’t feel anywhere near worthy of it.
Grace is a gift. Love is a gift. Joy is a gift. Strength is a gift. And all we must do to attain them is hold out our hands and receive them.
So, today? Choose not to settle for God’s promises only when life is easy, painless, and comfortable, but when things are challenging, when life hurts, when we’re in the middle of growing.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Remember that this life we live is not one we experience alone. It’s not meant to be lived by our own strength, our own might or will or effort – but of Christ’s work inside us. Of His strength working through us.
For God is good, He is loving, He is all-powerful, and always gracious – even when life is not.
And that inspires such beautiful, steadfast hope.
14 Replies to “Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain”
Wonderful post, Amanda! It really encouraged me today. 🙂
I’m so glad to hear it, Mary!
Wow that was a beautiful post Amanda. Thanks so much for writing. It really encouraged me today. ❤
Thanks, Ashley! 😉 It’s an encouragement to me to hear that.
I needed to hear this right now. I remember times when I would feel complete Joy and peace in God, yet when I get down, or depressed and confused, I think I have lost sight of that contentment, but the thing is, God never leaves us or forsakes us, and when I start to doubt that, I am doing myself no good. I love remembering what a Pastor I look up to said along the lines of “even in moments of our deepest despair, we can have true Joy in Christ, because joy is not always just a feeling, not something we can only have when everything is going good.” To me joy should be trust. Trust that we don’t have to carry our burdens alone, that to Know God, even when we’ve hit rock bottom, means we don’t have to fight this war alone. I never want to lose sight of that. Because when I get caught up with me, and my life, (or even others, like friends going through a hard time, and just wanting to make everything right for them) I start losing sight of my Savior. The times I need him most, seem to be the times Satan tempts me to trust in other things. But I know that Jesus is the only thing that can ever give me that… Joy.
Well, I just ranted. I guess sometimes I need to write things down just to explain it to myself, and your post inspired me to do so. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this ❤
Awesome rant, Faith. 😉 I love love love your thoughts on this, so thank you so much for taking the time to share it. Seeing joy as trust is a beautiful way to put it — in trusting, we place our cares in the arms of the One who can bear them. God bless! ❤
This is such a beautiful and inspiring post. It’s always hard to turn to God when we’re suffering or facing a challenge, but this post has really encouraged me to go to him and read my Bible and pray when life is not all that I want it to be, so thank you!
Simi ~ simizat.wordpress.com
Thanks a bunch! Oh wow, it blesses me so much to hear that. Welcome to Scattered Journal Pages, and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! 🙂
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That’s ok 🙂 Your blog is beautiful!
nice post .It hit home. i’ve been having issues and had just posted a poem on my blog about wanting to die. i’m feeling ok now though. And about them folks who seem to have it together, honestly i’ve learned from some of then that those folks don’t have everythimg together. : (
You’re right, we definitely don’t have it all together. Isn’t it great to know the God who does, though? Even in our inadequacy. That always encourages me when I see my weaknesses.
My prayer to God is that he will essentially keep me alive and that i won’t try to hurt myself
I’ve heard it said that hope when all is good is not hope at all. Paul himself says “For who hopes for what he already has?” The very nature of hope is that it’s for the imperfect times, the hard times. Thanks for sharing!
I so agree with that! That is a perfectly succinct way to put it, haha. And thank YOU for sharing. 😉