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How to Sing in Suffering – 7/30

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Title

How to Sing in Suffering – 7/30

Teacher

Andy Henderson

Date

July 30, 2023

Scripture

Romans, Romans 5:1-5

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, Peter! How’s it going?

Hey, Jim. So, Jim, when I look back over the last ten, twelve years, it has been quite the journey for you. I know there were many other things before this, but even to summarize — in 2012, quadruple bypass surgery; 2014 – kidney cancer, left kidney removed; 2014 – sepsis; and 2020 – prostate surgery; 2021 – COVID and some time in ICU; 2021 – congestive heart failure; 2022 – stage 3 kidney disease; 2023 – bladder cancer.

It’s like right now.

And surgery just a couple of months ago to remove two tumors. So, it feels like wave after wave of physical challenges. But when I think of you, I don’t think of the illnesses. I think of the night before you had quadruple bypass. I remember talking to you on the phone, and there was so much joy, so much peace. You had a song on your heart, a psalm in your mouth. So, I would love … I know a lot of our people know a bit of your story; a lot of our people don’t. Can you take us back to that night, a night that could have been filled with terror, and God did something in your heart? What was that like?

It was wonderful even though there were … obviously it wasn’t pleasant all the time. But, you know, I went in on Thursday just to get a cath, and they told me they’re going to keep me, and they were going to have to do four or five arteries. And I’m like, Well, can I just go home? Because they weren’t going to operate till Tuesday because of the blood thinner they had to put me on for the cath. And I remember my doctor said, “You’re worried about your bill, aren’t you?” I said, “That was in the back of my mind.” He goes, “You’re going to cover your deductible, don’t worry.” I didn’t really know much, but Thursday and Friday and half of Saturday, I had literally people in my room almost nonstop — family, friends, North Hills friends. I even had some of my old college soccer guys, one from Wisconsin, one from California. They just happened to be in the area. They popped in. It was such a joy. But then after the room cleared Saturday, it hit me. I will not lie to you. It hit me. For the first time through this whole ordeal, it just hit me. You said, “like a wave.” Well, I remember that wave, and I had fear. So, I just said, “All right, Lord, here we go.” And I said, “I need a word.” And where do you go? Where do you open your Bible to when you’re in a tough, tough, tough spot and you feel like crying and you wonder if you’re going to make it another day. So, I started reading in Psalms, and I didn’t get very far. I only got to chapter 4, and now when I read the first three chapters, I can’t believe I got that far. There’s so many more. But two verses — 4:7-8 just jumped out at me.

“You’ve put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.”

And I stopped there. That’s verse 7. And I remember looking up with my hands open and said, “That’s true. You’ve been good to me!” I mean, life’s not been easy. It’s planet Earth, and you know, it’s a mess, and I’m still carrying around a Romans 7 body. But you’ve been good!

And then I looked at the Bible again, and I read verse 8.

“In peace, I will both lie down and sleep for you alone, O Lord, make me”

And that word “make me” dwell in safety. The “make me” jumped out at me, that it was God’s intent to let me sense peace. And I did. I remember I wept sitting here in that room by myself. And I said out loud, “I need a song.” And that’s kind of a natural order for me. I love to sing. And I just start going through the songs on my phone. I had a lot of them. And a group called Jesus Culture, a girl named Kim Walker Smith in the group, had a song that I had recorded called Sing My Love. God just gave me peace. And I remember saying to you and Ross, I texted Ross, too, and I just said, “It’s exciting. They’re going to operate Sunday morning now instead of Tuesday. And I was just thinking this is great — 8:00 tomorrow morning while millions of people are going to worship God, he’s going to expose my heart, and he’s going to fix it. Maybe it’s the first time in my life I’ve had an open-heart church time. But the bottom line for me was that I got to worship God on an operating table that Sunday morning.

So, whenever I think of singing and suffering, I also think of Paul and Silas. They were beaten mercilessly by a mob and then thrown unjustly in prison, feet in stocks, and at midnight they’re praying and singing in the midst of all this pain and injustice and abuse. So, I often wonder, how do you prepare for that because that generally doesn’t just happen? You don’t just interpret horrible things in a way that says, “Oh, I want to sing a song!” So, how have …

That’s true! Oh, it’s really hurting. I wanna sing! It’s not like … Yeah!

What would you say to younger people, followers of Jesus who want to know, okay, I’m not currently in the midst of intense suffering, but what can I do now so that when I face difficult things, my default setting is prayer and song?

You know, I coached college ball for twenty years, and in the early years, we didn’t have a lot of success. We did okay, but you always want to do better. And finally, at some point, it dawned on me that we needed to discipline ourselves in the fundamentals, in conditioning, build a strong foundation, and then do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Perfect practice, perfect play. I found that to be true, so did my guys. It was a revelation, and I hear from them still to this day, some of them about how they’ve been tested on that in the ministry, in their professions, whatever they’re doing. And I think the idea behind that, to your question and to your point, comes down to if I’m walking with Jesus before the tragedy or the crisis, then I’m walking with Jesus through it too. He’s walking with me. I think for me, my years … And I don’t know when I got really serious; it’s probably as a young adult. I so value my time in the Word. My morning time is so special to me — to just spend some time in the Word with no distractions and in prayer. I mean short prayers and the long and whatever. There’s no rules. It’s just communicating with God, hearing from him and then speaking back. It became natural. Sometimes I’m driving down the road thinking about something one of my kids is going through or grandkids, and I just start singing “My hope is in the Lord!” That’s just a song! I sing it all the time.

So, when wave after wave comes and you just get your head above water and you get another wave of bad news, how do you keep from being discouraged?

Well, when I got the news about the bladder cancer just a couple of months ago, my reaction or my response was, first of all, to my doctor who told me. And my immediate response was “Well, okay, Lord. Okay.” And I just said to the doctor, “So, what do we do next?” And he told me, “Surgery and biopsy and all the routine stuff.” Then when he told me what it was, I think … There’s this little video clip I’ve seen in different places, this little boy with a little kid’s voice, five-year-old kid maybe. And there’s this picture sometimes of him standing on a shoreline or on a mountain, a beautiful mountain, and all he says is, “Okay, God. I trust you.” He says, “Okay. God. It’s all right. I trust you.” That’s where I want to live. That’s where I want to be. And I try to be there. When Alyssa was in Arizona, going through the treatment, and her life was really in jeopardy for a while, I would wake up in the middle of some nights, and my pillow was wet, and I knew I’d been crying in my sleep. And God was so kind to me because I’d roll over, flip the pillow over, and I would say, “Lord, please don’t take my precious daughter, but I trust you. I trust you.” Period. Yeah, that’s an honest answer.

Wow. Well, thank you for giving us a glimpse into that journey. Anything else you’d want to say to younger followers of Jesus regarding suffering?

Get to Jesus as fast as you can. Just get to him and stay with him. Don’t try to fix everything. Don’t try to even understand. Psalm 131 — Just be that weaned child. Crawl up on your Abba Father’s lap and let him hold you. You’re safe there. And you know, young people, it’s if they hear that, I hope they remember it when crunch time hits, because it’s true.

It is. Thank you, Jim.

Thank you for doing this.

Good morning, church. I appreciate Jim’s words so much in that interview. I wish he could be standing here right now preaching a full sermon on it. I would love to listen to it. He just is not able to do that physically right now.

So, we began this morning with the application. Jim just gave us the application. Usually we lay the biblical basis, and then we have an application. This morning we started with the application, and now we’re going to try and see the reason we can sing in the midst of suffering. And this whole topic of singing in the midst of trials is a complicated one because we often think about singing when we’re full of confidence or full of delight. But there are a lot of people, and oftentimes ourselves, when we’re in the midst of suffering, when we sing more out of confusion than we do confidence. We sing more out of a sense of despair than we do an overflow of delight. And some have experienced trauma that is so deep that, were it not for the grace of God, the very foundations of their faith would shake. And yet in the midst of that suffering, they, albeit imperfectly, seek to find their hope in the Lord. The psalms are full of songs. That’s what they are. They’re full of songs in which the writer and the singers are simultaneously expressing their deep mourning and also their hope in God.

And I’m sure that we’ve all seen differing responses to trials and suffering. I’ve had a dear friend who I love very much, with whom I experienced sweet fellowship, tragically lose a child. Their grief and their devastation were so great that they lost all hope and left the faith and now have become a mocker of the faith they claimed to have held so strongly before. They simply could not fathom a God who would allow that kind of suffering, and maybe even more specifically, could not fathom a God who would allow them, a professed child of God, to suffer in that way. We probably all know someone like that, and my heart breaks for them.

Compare that with the response of Tim Challies. Tim is a well-known author, blogger, pastor in the evangelical movement. In 2020, his twenty-year-old son Nick, was out with his sister, fiancée, and some other friends in college playing an outdoor game, when suddenly he collapsed and lost consciousness. He could not be revived. This is a person who was a picture of health, and he loved and longed to serve the Lord. That’s what he went to school for. And on the surface, it seems senseless. Tim wrote a book chronicling his family’s intense struggle with that first year after Nick’s death called Seasons of Sorrow. And here are some excerpts from that book.

“Though my eyes may have remained clear, my mind is not. My heart is not. Everything is muffled and distorted. Things that should be easy are difficult. My memory is full of holes. I’ve lost the ability to make decisions. I’m lost, I’m confused, I’m discombobulated. I’m so very weary…

“Yet even while all this is true, amid the death, amid the grief, amid the sobs, I can sense something arising, something swelling. Deep in the darkness, almost imperceptibly, something is stirring to life. It is a hope. It is a longing. It is a determination. Though my eyes are fixed on the dirt, my heart is fixed on Christ…

“A wise man once said that the true victory of faith is to trust God in the dark and through the dark. I trusted God as He led me through the daylight; I will trust him now as he leads me through the thickest darkness. I may not be able to see the way I go, but I don’t need to, because my eye is fixed on the one who is guiding me there. He has given me every reason to trust him. He has given me every reason to have confidence that he will hold my course steady until the keel of this weather-beaten little boat is finally nudged against the shore of glory and I am home.”

So, what’s the difference between these two scenarios? Did one love their child more than the other? Absolutely not. Did one just naturally not grieve as deeply as the other? There’s no indication of that. Both grieved deeply. Did one have his why questions answered while the other did not? No. Tim mentioned in other places in the book that they’ve never had the what and the why questions answered. So, why is one filled with hopelessness and the other one filled with hope? It all comes down to where they anchored their hope. How we respond to suffering can be confusing. If we exhibit faith, does that mean we can’t engage with our feelings? And if we engage with our feelings, does that mean that we’re weak in faith? You know, the biblical record reveals that both can be true. We can have a trust, a deep trust in the never-changing character of God, even as we deal with the ever-changing emotions in our time of pain.

Think through some of the times that we see this in the scriptures. Job loses virtually everything he has in a bizarre series of events, including the death of all ten of his kids in one day. Soon after that, his body was devastated with boils from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. And throughout the next several chapters, in many different ways, he is asking this why question — What is going on? And yet, in the midst of all that suffering, he was able to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” And a little bit later on in the book, “You know what? Even if God kills me, he could slay me yet will I trust in him.”

Paul was certainly familiar with suffering. Peter mentioned them singing in the jail after they’d been beaten. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he tells his readers that the affliction and suffering that he and his team experienced was so severe that they felt so utterly “burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” Yet in that very same letter, he was able to say things like “I’m content with my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” And there are many more in the pages of the scriptures.

How could real people like you and me … How could real people make these unreal statements in times of real suffering? You know, having faith does not mean that we do not mourn deeply or even at times find ourselves utterly confused in our times of suffering. But there are a couple of tendencies, dangerous tendencies that we have, at least that I had, during times of trial and suffering. I saw these clearly in my own heart during my time of deep depression.

Tendency number 1 is this — to judge the character of God by our circumstances rather than judge our circumstances by the character of God. And maybe I’m the only one who’s ever done this. But I think it would be probably natural for us to start with our circumstances and say, “You know what? This must be true then about God” instead of starting with what we know about God and what he claims in his Word, and then looking at our circumstances and judging our circumstances by that knowledge.

And a second tendency flows out of that first one, and it is this — to judge the character of God by what we think we would do if we were him, right? If God were really in control, then this is what he would do because this is what I would do. If God really loved me, then this is how he would act toward me. If God was really present, then fill in the blank. If God were really good, then this is what he would have done. The list could go on and on. Instead of beginning with the truth that God is who he says he is, many are tempted to begin with the circumstance and decide whether or not he is who he claims to be. But we must always begin with the reality of God’s character and attributes and discern our times of suffering through those lenses. In fact, we really need to go one step further than that. We need to anchor down our hope to his character and attributes.

Let me illustrate this with a rather interesting thing that happened to us while we lived in Florida. Some of you have heard me mention that we had a sinkhole under our house when we lived in Florida. Well, let me just kind of elaborate for just a moment. We bought a brand new house in a new subdivision in 2006, and within just a couple of years, we began to notice some unusual things — stair step cracks on the outside of our house; a large crack going up to the front door; a hollow sound when you knocked on the foyer floor; dozens of nail pops throughout the house; large cracks on the inside walls; and even a beam starting to make its way through our bedroom ceiling. So, we brought someone in to do a little research, and here’s what they found — we had a massive hole under our house, and the front of the house was slowly dipping into it. And when I say “massive,” it was a large pocket of nothing between our house and the bedrock forty-five feet below.

So, obviously, remediation had to take place. And there were a couple of possible solutions, but we felt like the best overall was to anchor the house to the bedrock. So, here’s what they did. They put large steel rods every couple of feet around the outside of the foundation of our house, all the way down to the bedrock, forty-five feet down to the bedrock so that literally, if all the ground underneath opened up, if it all fell out from underneath us, this is what would have happened [graphic of house standing only on beams high in the air]. I kid you not. If all the ground had fallen out from underneath us, our house would have been forty-five feet up in the air. But even if the ground did open up, our house would be secure. Now, I have no idea how we were supposed to get out of that house. That part was not explained, but at least we would have been safe. And that picture has come back to me over and over many times over the years as I wrestled with my own faith during difficult times. During those times, in what would I anchor my hope?

And God patiently reminded me of two truths to which I could anchor my hope during my dark night of the soul. If you read through the scriptures, these are the things to which the writers of scripture consistently anchored their hope in times of suffering. The first is God’s providential control over all things. This is God’s thirty-thousand-foot view of all of life and how it all fits together. God did not create and then back off to watch what happened. He is intricately involved in every detail. We see this clearly in the ideas of his sovereignty and his wisdom, his purposes, and his goodness. And God is perfect in all of these attributes.

Now, if that is true, what I’m about to say is difficult. It’s hard to grasp. Nothing that he ordains and allows can be improved upon. The fact that God is all-wise means that he always has the best goals in mind and the best means to reach those goals. What he allows and ordains are the best way to the very best results. There is no wiser path. There may be easier paths, much easier. There may be much more pleasant paths, but at the end of all things, we will never be able to say there was a better way. His purposes are pure, and we see that in our text for this morning in Romans chapter 5.

“We rejoice in [the midst of] our sufferings.”

Now, those two things don’t go together in our brains.

“We rejoice [even in the midst of deep suffering], knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame.”

God will bring beauty out of the ashes always.

Now, this could bring up some very difficult questions for those who are or who have suffered deeply. There are simply questions that we do not have answers to, the why questions. God may be doing a thousand or more things in the midst of our trials, and we might have a foggy idea about two or three of them. Now, these mysterious truths about a God whose thoughts are infinitely above ours, which is all true, but those are never to be thrown out flippantly, as if this should just take care of all the questions that somebody has, right? In fact, sometimes it brings up even more questions. But we can gain comfort in knowing that nothing happens outside of his control, which means that all of it has purpose, all of it flowing out of his perfect wisdom. And all of it ultimately comes out of his goodness. And again, this is just so often beyond our ability to even comprehend how this could be so. There are times when we not only have a hard time imagining how God could bring good out of a situation; we’re convinced that it would be impossible to do so. And yet even in those moments, we anchor down to the truth that God is always good, and he is always wise, and he is always purposeful, and he is always sovereign.

Many of you know the story of Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s a well-known author and speaker. When she was seventeen years old, she had a diving accident that left her a quadriplegic. She now lives with constant, excruciating pain. In her book, A Place of Healing, wrestling with the mysteries of suffering, pain, and God’s sovereignty, she writes these words —

“God bids me that I not only seek to accept it, but to embrace it, knowing full well that somewhere, way down deep — in a secret place I have yet to see — lies my highest good. Yes, I pray that my pain might be removed, that it might cease; but more so, I pray for the strength to bear it, the grace to benefit from it, and the devotion to offer it up to God as a sacrifice of praise.”

Listen, we’re going to mourn the evil done to us and to the ones we love. We mourn the seemingly senseless violence that surrounds us. We mourn sickness, disease, and injury. We mourn the death of loved ones and friends. But even in the midst of that mourning, we can rejoice that none of it, none of those things, can defeat the Lord in his purposes because he has a sovereign purpose over it all that is both wise and ultimately good. And we anchor down on those truths.

But we don’t just anchor our hope in the overarching, providential control of God over all things. We also anchor our hope to his personal, intimate care in all things. God’s providential control was the thirty-thousand-foot view of all aspects of life, past, present, and future, things that we simply cannot see, we don’t know. His personal care is him walking that road right next to us. He promises us that nothing will ever separate us from the love of God, every moment empowered by his grace and accompanied by his presence. And again, we see this in Romans chapter 5.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. “

And over and over and over again in the pages of the scriptures, we see the people of God in the midst of suffering, anchoring their hope in the love, grace, and presence of God.

Here’s just a couple of those many instances that we see in the scriptures. Psalm 6:2-4,

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord–how long? Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love.”

Psalm 13:1-5,

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? … But I’ve trusted in your steadfast love.”

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of this is Lamentations chapter 3. I wish we had time to read the entire passage. It’s quite long. But in it, Jeremiah spent many verses talking about suffering in the darkness of what he and the nation were experiencing. And in the midst of his explanation, he writes,

“My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, ‘My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord’ … But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore, I will hope in him.’”

God’s grace is everything that we need to live the Christian life. And as Paul writes, it’s everything we need to endure times of suffering. After speaking about his terribly difficult thorn in the flesh (which we’re not sure what that is, but he basically describes it as a messenger of Satan, sent to beat him up mercilessly, just this constant thing that was going on), well, Paul prays for three seasons of time that it would be removed from him. And God said, “No, no. There’s purpose. But my grace is sufficient for you. My grace is sufficient for my power is made perfect in weakness.” His continual, promised grace is sufficient. We can anchor down on that promise.

Some of the sweetest words of comfort in all the scriptures come from arguably the most well-known of psalms, Psalm 23.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Why? Because you are with me.

“You’re with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

A little later in the book that was mentioned moments ago, Joni Eareckson Tada writes,

“He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer his embrace.”

And we may at times feel like we’re alone in our suffering, but we can anchor down on the promise that he will never leave us or forsake us.

But there are times when even the love of God can be just as confusing as the sovereignty of God that we talked about. It can be confusing. Think of the gospel of John chapter 11. Jesus’s friend Lazarus is deathly ill. So, Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, also both very close friends of Jesus, send for him to come as quickly as he can. And it is then that John writes these words.

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill…”

How would you end that sentence? He came immediately, right? In fact, he didn’t even use the normal means of travel; he just transported there, right? He could do that. He’s God, right? That’s our expectation. No. After writing those words, John writes that because he loved all three of them,

“he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

That’s confusing. It’s hard to wrap our minds around that.

His love can be confusing, but that does not mean it’s not absolutely real. The siblings — Lazarus, Mary, Martha — they got to see the resolution of their story in which Jesus’s very curious response made some sense, right? Because Lazarus was raised from the dead. They got to see that. Oh, okay, now I get it, maybe a little bit. But often we will never see the resolution or purpose of our suffering until we see Christ.

You know, I realized much later on I never actually saw the bedrock that was supposedly forty-five feet under our house. I just took their word by faith. All of my hopes, if you will, that those steel rods would keep my home secure, were totally based upon the existence and strength of that bedrock that I had never laid eyes on. I just trusted.

Jud Wilhite was quoted in the book Gospel Deeps, written by Jared Wilson. And in it, he says,

“The testimonies of the Bible about pain and suffering and the consequences of sin are not mathematical formulas for rational understanding. Instead they are constant proclamations about the God who rules and loves, and they are constant reminders to cast our care upon him.

“God wants us to hope in him. In other words, why is not the most fundamental human question when it comes to suffering. Even if we had all the answers to our whys, we might actually find them unsatisfying and ultimately unredemptive for the pain we are facing. A bigger question emerges. The most fundamental question, according to the Bible is who. Who will we trust in the calamities and challenges of life? Who will we turn to in the reality of our pain? Who is worthy of our trust?”

The author Vaneetha Rendell Risner just wrote on Facebook a little over a month ago.

“I contracted polio long after it was supposedly eradicated. The doctor misdiagnosed my symptoms because she had never seen polio before. And the wrong diagnosis led to widespread paralysis and a childhood spent largely in hospitals, marked by painful surgeries. Over thirty years later, my infant son died because the substitute doctor was unfamiliar with his heart condition. The doctor took him off his life-saving medicine. Within two days, my son was gone.

“How could I possibly reconcile these losses? They were unspeakable. Preventable. Unexpected. And in the face of such catastrophes, my natural question was ‘Why?’ Why did this happen? If God was in control, why did he allow it? Why didn’t he stop it?

“I was certain that if I had an explanation for my trials, if I could understand God’s purposes in them, if I just had a reason, then I could have accepted my losses with more grace. Not knowing why, having to trust God in a senseless situation — when the world feels like it has exploded, and we are left picking up the splintered fragments of our life — seems impossible.

“God is asking the unthinkable. To trust him in the dark. To accept his will when we don’t understand. To submit to his sovereignty in the midst of uncertainty. To believe he has a purpose when nothing makes sense. Unthinkable as it is, God keeps asking me to trust him.

“The process of relinquishing my demand to understand is what freed me. While I thought that freedom would be found in answers, true freedom was actually found in surrender. I didn’t need to figure it out. It didn’t need to make sense to me. I didn’t need to understand the details. I just needed to trust God. Trust him because he’s infinitely wiser, more loving, and more purposeful than I am. There is always a ‘why’ to our pain. We may never understand it in this life, but this we can know: As we surrender our questions to him, God will answer us with nothing less than himself.”

Let me close this morning by considering some of the words from a song, with which many of you are probably familiar, “My Hope is Built.” Perhaps you’ve sung it dozens of times in worship services even. But I would ask for us to take a fresh look at some of the lines in that song. A lot of times we sing, right? We’re just singing, not necessarily paying real close attention to the words. Listen to these words anew.

“When darkness veils [or hides] his lovely face, / I rest on his unchanging grace. / In every high and stormy gale, / My anchor holds within the veil. / His oath, his covenant, his blood / Supports me in the whelming flood. / When all around my soul gives way, / He then is all my hope and stay. / On Christ the solid Rock I stand. / All other ground is sinking sand.”

So, we trust him in the midst of our darkness, anchored down on the truth of his providential control over all things. Find your hope in his personal care in all things, not because it all makes sense because more often than not, it doesn’t, but because of who he is and what he has promised. And because of that, we can sing even in the midst of our suffering.

Father, we thank you for your grace. Father, this is so hard for us. On one hand, we believe, and then on the other hand we cry out, “Please help my unbelief.” Father, there may be people right now who are in the midst of deep suffering, and they are really struggling. They’re struggling with doubt, and they’re struggling with confusion. Father, I pray that that you will comfort them with the truth of your character and your attributes today. Remind them that you love them with a love that cannot be measured and that you offer them a peace that cannot even be imagined.

Father, there may be some here today who are not going through any real deep times of suffering right now, but perhaps they will someday. I pray that even now they will begin anchoring down their hope, not on what they see around them, but on your providential control over all things in your personal care in all things. Father, you’re worthy of our trust. We pray these things in the name of your Son Jesus. Amen.