The Gospel & Hard Times

BY MARIAH COWARD

As a woman who has suffered years of abuse there have been times in my new life when I have found myself living out Psalm 6:6. "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping." I would weep before the Lord from the deepest parts of me and feel as if I had no response. Every day I would cry out for Him to heal my heart and everyday I would wake with the same ache in my chest and to be honest, I was mad about it. I didn't understand why my Abba Father would allow such affliction to overcome me. I thought that He was supposed to be my protector.

I was under the assumption that my process of healing would be painless because I had the Lord on my side. That He would tend to my wounds with a cooling salve and sing sweet lullabies to my soul. Instead, I found myself to be harboring a flame that I couldn't quench. And then, as a very new believer, I realized an important truth, the life I had been called to would not be an easy one. Yes, it would be a life of victory and freedom, but there would be times when my Lord would lay me bare before Him. I then entered a season of my life where I learned to "suffer well", as I called it, and in as complete a surrender I could muster I sought to understand the true meaning of "it is well with my soul".

In hard times like this we don't need to absorb ourselves in the law and consider all the ways we are failing. We need books like Psalms and Lamentations, that speak to us as one of us, on a level we can handle in our frailty, unafraid to relate those hard to admit things trapped deep inside ourselves. We need to take in the promises given us through the Gospel, to soak in them.

A lot of times when we're struggling we look to stories in the Old Testament for encouragement or guidance. And usually we put ourselves in the place of the hero. We see David standing with unwavering courage and faith before the biggest problem Israel had seen thus far. Quite literally. And we think, I need to be David! I need to stand boldly before my problems and knock out the Goliath in my life! But this is a dangerous thing and let me tell you why. We can't look to those stories as if we are the heroes destined for greatness. Sometimes that's not the case. I am not David and my problems are not Goliath waiting for me to muster enough faith to conquer them. In fact, because of the total depravity of my heart and my weakness to change or do anything on my own, I will miss the giant every time. Guaranteed. If I put myself in the place of the hero, I put a weight on my shoulders that I simply can't carry.

Praise God, I am not David fighting Goliath! Instead, I understand that Jesus is the greater David fighting the Goliath sized problem on my behalf in victory from the beginning! When "suffering well", don't take possession of the battle that doesn't belong to you! It's exhausting and ultimately ends in failure. Instead, know that through what Jesus did, the fight is no longer our own! Nor is the victory! We don't need to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. Jesus is enough! Jesus is our hero fighting for us! Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Lord has already paved a way to victory beforehand! Not only did He do the work for us, but He walks with us and lives inside us, what is there to fear? The story of reconciliation through the Gospel not only releases any hold fear may have on our lives, but gives us everything we need to rejoice with hope in our suffering. Look at Romans 5:1­5, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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."

Faith as a gift we did nothing to earn. Peace we wholly possess not sometimes, but always and forever through, in and by our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in the Gospel in which we stand with the knowledge that redemption is now ours because of what Jesus did on the cross. Soak in that! Consider also Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." and Isaiah 42:3, "a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice." And if complete healing doesn't come this side of heaven know that it will come! Revelation 21:4 says, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

We have hope and healing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ which produces in us the ability to "suffer well" and makes those hard times really not so hard after all. 

Mariah is the worship liturgist at Trinity Church NWA. She loves music and theology and the intersection between the two. She is wife to Daniel and mother to Clara and Amelie. She lives in Rogers Arkansas. 

Twitter @MariahCCoward