Have you ever had days… months… maybe even years in your life when it seemed like you were in a “prison” of suffering that you couldn’t escape? Maybe you’ve grieved the death of a loved one, the halt of a dream, or you’ve been chained to a long road of physical or emotional hardship. Maybe you’ve endured difficult relationships, or you’ve been shackled by the fear of an unknown future. Could it be that some of you have just had some really hard days, and you’re simply longing to feel free and alive again?

I’ve been there, too.

Instead of running the opposite direction the Father beckons us to draw near to Him, allowing His words of compassion to fight their way to the forefronts of our minds:

My grace is sufficient… (2 Cor. 12:9)

I am close to the brokenhearted… (Psalm 34:18)

Draw near to me and I will draw near to you… (James 4:8)

Be strong and courageous, for I am with you… (Joshua 1:9)

I will never leave you nor forsake you… (Hebrews 13:5)

I am the One who sustains you… (Psalm 54:4)

The battle is mine… (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Do not fear, for I am with you… (Isaiah 41:10)

My compassions never fail… (Lam. 3:22)

Nothing is too hard for Me… (Jer. 32:17)

You may weep in the night, but joy comes in the morning… (Psalm 30:5)

I am mighty to save… (Zephaniah 3:17)

Many of you could tell story after story of how God’s goodness has shined in your suffering. Over the years and through the trials of life, God has poured out His love and compassion over us and He’s changed us. His presence brings us peace in the most uncertain of times. His grace has made us alive in Him. We can tell stories of His faithfulness, and can now even encourage others in the trenches – not because life is easy or because we’ve figured it all out – but because of the hope that Jesus provides that is far beyond what this world has to offer.

Whatever we endure our confidence is sure, because our eyes are on You, Lord.

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” – Philippians 1:12-14

Persecution and imprisonment in Rome under the cruel emperor Nero was beyond human comprehension, and Paul wasn’t naive to what his imminent  future could hold. But in his suffering Paul’s focus was steadfast on the gospel, his confidence was in Christ, and it showed to a watching world. It showed so much, Philippians tells us, that Paul’s chains served great purpose: the gospel was advanced, and his brothers in the faith grew in boldness.

Are you in the midst of suffering today?

Lean into your compassionate Father, keep your focus on the gospel, find your confidence in your risen Redeemer, and look for ways God is working through your trial. Like Paul, soon you’ll be able to bear witness to the beauty that came from it, because God is constantly working for your good and His glory.

At His feet,

 

 

*Let’s Talk: How have you experienced God’s faithfulness in suffering?
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