It's ten o'clock at night and you are sitting on the couch watching images on the TV screen float in front of you. You are crying uncontrollably, yet so silently that no one in the house can hear you. Everyone has gone to bed and you feel so all alone. The depression has been beating you up for months now, and no one seems to know how to help you. You've been given medication, but it doesn't seem to be working well enough for you. You still haven't discovered what the issue is that is causing you to be depressed, though you may have an idea of what it could be. But, right now, you are feeling very alone, though you don't want to wake anybody up to give you comfort and to tell you that everything will be all right.
So you do the only thing you can do. You know there is someone "out there" who can help you through this time of confusion and pain; someone who can quiet the many thoughts and voices that are sounding through your head; someone who can help you get the sleep you so desperately need. So you simply say to Him, as a small child would say to its mother, "Jesus, please hold me." Suddenly, you feel tender, strong hands lifting you up and setting you down on a lap you can actually feel but you cannot see. As you are gently let down, you feel such great warmth that you know it to be a love of a kind you may never have felt from anyone before. And when you feel His arms wrapping around you, holding you tight and firm, you melt into the embrace and know that your cares and pain are being taken care of. You feel safe for the first time in a long time. You feel such a love emanating from the presence that surrounds you that you don't ever want Him to let you go. But when He does, you know that you have made it through this current crisis leaning on His strength because all of yours is gone.
The above story is true. Jesus was there for me at my lowest depth of despair. The great thing is Jesus will never really let you completely go. He always has His hand on you during every trial you go through. When you are down, Jesus will lift you up. When you are sad, He will bring you great joy. Whenever you suffer for any reason, Jesus is as close to you as your very next breath. All you need to do is to call on His name and He will respond, maybe not always right away, and not always how you want or expect Him to, but He will respond. In your time of great need, Jesus is the answer. He will never leave you or forsake you, not at any time in your life. In our suffering, Jesus is right there with us. Through God’s Spirit, Jesus guides us, teaches us, gives us hope, and brings us peace, love, and joy. If we ask Him in prayer, He will help us understand why we suffered. You are not alone.
Let's explore how Jesus helps us in our distress.
By His salvation from eternal death
First and foremost in the life of any believer is salvation through Jesus Christ. Without gaining this salvation, you limit just how much Jesus will do in your life and in your suffering. Jesus made it very clear that those who did not know Him would continue to be separated from Him today and throughout eternity. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it" (NLT).
For those who have given Jesus authority over their lives by accepting Him as their Lord and Savior, He will do everything He can to alleviate their suffering. But, please remember that Jesus will only do as much as you allow Him to, or He will do only what is required for the moment. Jesus does not always heal us completely at all times. He will use our sufferings to grow us in dependence on Him. That way we learn that we can trust Him as He does what He needs to do in our lives to get us to a greater state of holiness. Also remember that, through our suffering, we become more like Jesus in patience, obedience, love, and all the many attributes that our Savior has shown us. In our hearts, we all want to be like Jesus. But in order for that to happen, Jesus must break our hearts of stone so that He can reform them into hearts of flesh, where love overflows toward our fellow men and women, just like His does.
Unfortunately for those who have not taken Jesus into their hearts, their suffering will continue until they die, unless they fall down at the feet of Jesus and simply ask Him to come into their lives and save them from their sins and Hell. They don't think that it's fair that a loving God could or would do that to people who don't know Him.
Let me give you and example. Say I was a millionaire and you needed to borrow a huge amount of money from me, and I was the only one who could help you through the financial crisis you are experiencing. If you didn't know me, because we haven't yet met, how would you get my money? The only way to meet me is for someone who does know me to introduce you to me. Once we have shaken hands and become acquaintances, I am now able to help you end the crisis.
It is the same with God. How can you expect God to help you in your own crisis if He doesn't yet know you? You see, it's not about God knowing us; it's about us knowing God. God already knows who we are and is in Heaven waiting expectantly for you to call on Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. He really, really wants to help you in your suffering, but, as the gentleman above, unless you know the One with all the cash, you cannot expect the help. If you want the help of the only One who can truly comfort you in your suffering, you must call on His name, and let Him take care of you in a way no One else can.
He is my refuge and my rock
In Luke 47-49, to those who called Him "Lord", but did not follow Him or obey Him, Jesus told them, "I will show you what everyone is like who comes to me and hears my words and obeys. That person is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the floods came, the water tried to wash the house away, but it could not shake it, because the house was built well. But the one who hears my words and does not obey is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. When the floods came, the house quickly fell and was completely destroyed" (NCV).
This is the perfect picture of how we can deal with our suffering when we have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. If we have built our life's foundation on the true rock, Jesus, then we know that no matter what life's storms throw at us, we will stand firm on the promises of God to see us through anything we may encounter in the way of suffering. But if we do not have Jesus as our Lord and Savior then we will crumble and wilt whenever even the smallest of sufferings come our way. We, as Christians, know without a doubt that, even if we die during our suffering, we will be in Heaven with Jesus. This is truly a win-win situation. Knowing Jesus makes living so much easier to live without having to worry about what will happen in the next minute, let alone tomorrow.
As King David so eloquently exclaimed in Psalm 62:5-7: "I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me" (NLT). In the same Psalm, verse 1-2, David admits that, "My soul waits calmly for God alone. My salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my savior—my stronghold. I cannot be severely shaken" (GW). In our suffering, we wait on God to act. We give Him permission to do whatever He has to do in us during our time of suffering, because we know that He has only good in mind for us, no matter how we view what we are going through. At times it may seem as if God is not there. But if Jesus is your Savior, you can rest assured that He is near and is doing something to get you through your pain. Sometimes, it may seem as if God is taking a long time to act, but don't fret, He is taking exactly the right amount of time to work in your life, to get you where He wants you to be at that time. God is never slow, but is always right on time. Place your faith on the Rock and you will never be shaken, no matter how long it takes for your pain to end.
No one else can save me
No matter what the world tells you, there is only one way to God, and only one way to get into Heaven for eternity. In Acts 4:12 we read, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” There is only one Person who can give you access to God. Only He can bring you into a relationship with the One who created you, no one else. Of Himself, He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will also know my Father. From now on you know him through me and have seen him…” (John 14:6-7/GW).
Jesus is, and always has been, the only way to God. Jesus came to this earth so that we could know and see God through Him. If you have seen Jesus, then you have seen God. How do we see Jesus? By believing in your heart that He is who He says He is in the above Scripture. His Way is the only way to God and having your sins forgiven. His Truth is the only truth worth living for. His Life, which He gave up so that we may be forgiven by God, was the only life that was needed to secure our freedom from Satan and our sin.
You cannot be saved by your good works. You couldn't do enough good works to satisfy God's condition of blood needing to be shed for the atonement of our sins. Since we are sinful people, we do everything from a sinful point of view. Our motives are usually not pure. Most times we do things from a selfish attitude, with a "what do I get out of this" frame of mind. At times, our pride gets in the way, and we get angry when we are not thanked or appreciated for what we have done for others. Jesus said, “Take care! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don’t shout about it as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don’t tell your left hand what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in secret, and your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you" (Matthew 6:1-4/NLT). Only a sinless person could take our sins away from us. That person was and is Jesus, the Son of God.
The world's way doesn't work. God gave us only one Person and one Way for us to be saved.
I am saved by God’s Grace alone
Grace is defined as “unmerited favor”. It is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ. A gift we all as sinners do not deserve. We can't earn it or work towards it. God freely gives it to those who make Jesus Lord of their lives. Jesus had to take on our sins, die, and be resurrected before God could extend His Grace to all sinners. This shows us how great God’s love is for us that He will forgive the sins of those who call on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Once we give Jesus full control, the peace and comfort of our Lord will be established in our lives and in our suffering.
Once we have been saved, and our lives are firmly in the will of God, can we begin to tell others about the love and mercy of God. As we do, we may encounter opposition from those who don't believe God's message of hope and freedom. We may be asked by Jesus to suffer for the furthering of the Kingdom of God, something it is a privilege to do for Him, since He has done the same for us.
The Apostle Paul encouraged his protégé Timothy to not be ashamed to tell others the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told him, "But suffer with me for the Good News. God, who gives us the strength to do that, saved us and made us his holy people. That was not because of anything we did ourselves but because of God’s purpose and grace. That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began, but it is now shown to us by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus. He destroyed death, and through the Good News he showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed" (2 Timothy 1:8b-10/NCV).
Yes, Jesus will help us in our suffering all the days of our lives in Him. But when we suffer for the cause of the Gospel message, and in the battle for the lives of those Satan has under his thumb, God will shower us greatly with all we need to conquer the enemy. As believers in Jesus Christ, as those who carry His Name, Christians, we must do everything we can to take away what Satan has stolen from God, bringing people out of the darkness of the Devil, and back into the light of Heaven and Eternity. We must lead those without Jesus away from their paths of destruction and onto the road which leads to life everlasting, thereby giving them the hope that, in their own suffering, they will find healing. But, most of all, they will find love and understanding.
The salvation of Jesus is the first step into a life of peace, comfort, and healing. Lead people to Jesus and help them find the reason for their suffering and an end to their pain.