It’s comforting to know that Hannah wept bitterly and prayed out of her anguish and God heard her.
It’s comforting to know that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked into a furnace that very well could have killed them, but God showed up.
It’s comforting to know that even though Jonah fled from his life’s purpose, God still used him in His grand story.
It’s a comfort to read story after story of how God saves us, rescues us, delivers us, teaches us, loves us, and so much more.
When life throws one curve ball after the next, I soak up scripture like this.
It says I am allowed to cry out in anguish and be heard. It says no matter what I’m going through, God is surely there. It says I am allowed to doubt God’s goodness, but that will never change the fact that He is good.
Often when I read scripture, I can make whatever I’m reading become a comfort to me. That’s the lens I take to my time with Jesus. What does this passage say about how God helps me through suffering, and how should I carry on from there?
This isn’t inherently bad, but I have sat in this place for quite some time now and it seems that God has become all about suffering to me. Quite honestly, I’ve grown tired of it. I’m tired of constantly trying to find how God triumphs over suffering in everything I do.
I’ve begun to want to know more about who God is, aside from suffering. I’ve begun to reach for other aspects of God’s character. I’ve begun to realize that my actions, reading the Bible and meeting with God, are great, but I’m no longer getting what I need out of it.
Of course, that is no fault of God’s. The tools He’s given me are not suddenly flawed. So what is it? As I began to ask God this question, He just began pointing me to His glory. He began showing me the same passages I had read and applied to suffering, and showed me how they prove His glory.
And I began to realize, as I’ve looked for what God was doing for me through suffering, I’ve missed part of the point. Yes, God uses suffering. But part of God’s character is that everything He does ultimately points to His glory. If I’m never looking at scripture trying to find His glory in the stories, then I’m missing part of the point.
The story of Hannah. Yes, Hannah prayed sincerely from her heart, and God heard her and blessed her with a son. Hannah’s suffering was vindicated. But how about the fact that God opened a barren womb? How about the fact that God used a woman who could not physically have children, to birth one of the greatest kings of all time and to enter into the lineage of Jesus? Does this story speak not just to God’s desire to bless us, but to a powerful plan beyond my understanding?
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Yes, these three men were brave in the face of almost certain death, and Jesus honored their loyalty by saving their lives. But how about the fact that God was able to keep three men unscathed through the fire when the guards collapsed outside the door? How about the fact that because of this action, King Nebuchadnezzar, a man who previously condemned the worship of any other gods, proclaimed to his entire nation the glory of the God of the Jews? Does this story speak not just to God’s desire to save us, but to a glory that takes far greater precedence than any physical work I’m doing?
The story of Jonah. Yes, this man ran in the complete opposite direction from obedience and God still chose to use him for a great purpose. Nothing is wasted. How about the fact that God was able to use the most arrogant and misplaced man to change an entire nation? Does this story speak not just to God’s desire to use us, but to a compassion and will that cannot be stopped?
Looking at these stories for how God uses suffering is not bad, but it’s only part of the picture. As I start to understand that part of God’s character, I want more. I long to see another part of the picture. I long to see what His glory looks like at its purest.
I decided about a week ago, that I would read and pray everything through this lens. That I would take just one week to not pray for the suffering in my life or the world around me, but that I would focus solely on how great God is, how the Bible points to that, and how His greatness underlies every earthly thing.
It is setting my heart on fire for Jesus in a new way. And this is just one new lens. I have traded my lens of suffering for one of God’s glory. What if I looked through the lens of grace? What about mercy? What about justice?
My question for you today is this, what lens are you viewing Jesus through? I would not say that one lens in necessarily better than any other, but I think you need to know. I can assure you that you are probably only looking at a piece of the picture.
This is what sticking with Jesus is. As we continue to walk with Him, we must begin to learn Him in new ways.
If He is a work of art, He is not a painting on a wall with only one plane to view it on. He is a multidimensional sculpture you have to move around to fully see. You have to view Him from every angle to begin to understand Him.
We must constantly evaluate how we are approaching Jesus, and begin to do it in new ways. Stretch yourself in your pursuit.
How do you need to view Jesus today? What new way can you begin to understand His goodness today?
By: Victoria Rinear