“I am afflicted and needy, but the Lord takes thought of me.” (Psalm 40:17)
Seasons of prolonged suffering have a way of beating your spirit down into the dust. Relational suffering. Physical suffering. Emotional suffering. Financial suffering. All of it can leave you feeling hopeless. We find ourselves looking up at the sky and wondering where He went or if He was ever there to begin with. Or maybe we can’t even bring ourselves to look up and we get in our pajamas at 2:30 in the afternoon and hide in our beds. The beauty of our Christ is that in those moments he does not forget us. He remains as close as he always has been and forever will be.
In our suffering, all of the places that we feel unseen, all of the places that we feel a suffocating darkness, all of the places where our failures overwhelms us, every single place of hidden shame and guilt, all of those places are counted, seen, healed and made whole by the work of God, in Christ. His gifts are always good. Even the gifts of suffering and pain. Spurgeon puts it this way, “Every sorrow of a child of God is the birth pang of joy.”
The deepest sorrows prepare our hearts for the deepest joys. The sorrows make the joys sweeter. The sorrows push us to see that truest joys will never be taken from us. The joy of his incarnation, Immanuel, God with us. The joy of his crucifixion, our Substitute, bearing the punishment for every single one of our sins. The joy of the resurrection, our Savior, providing for us justification, perfection before a perfect God. These joys are and forever will be ours and yet there are times when those joyful truths feel just out of reach.
There are times during seasons of sorrow when he shows us we are seen and loved with little unexpected joys here on earth, kisses on the cheek, surprise demonstrations of his great love in the mundane of everyday life. A kiss of love and laughter of a relationship that was made exactly for you. A kiss of the warmth that comes from a good word from a dear one. A kiss of encouragement that comes from gathering with fellow failures to collectively lift our eyes to Christ. A kiss of kindness from a stranger who sees you and smiles. A kiss of happiness when your favorite song comes on the radio. A kiss of comfort when a gift comes unexpectedly and a need is fulfilled. These joys, these kisses are fleeting and temporary, but they are also real and valuable.
Jesus when comforting his disciples before the time of his death said this, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” There will come a day when no one will be able to take our joy away. The weeping that lasted through the night will be done away with by the crashing through of our eternal morning of joy. He knows our sorrow. He feels it with us. He knows our longing to rejoice and be with him. He does not flippantly disregard our suffering. The Lord takes thought of you right now. Let the sorrows of your life drag you to the promise of eternal joy that awaits us. This life, this suffering, this pain isn’t all there is. Lift your eyes to your compassionate Savior, and dearest friend, his eyes are forever on you.
Jessica is an author of several books and a frequent conference speaker. Her heart is to see women, families, and children freed from the bondage of moralism and to live in the truth that in the gospel there is joyful freedom awaiting them. Jess has a Bachelor's Degree in Theology and with her mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick, she co-authored the books Give Them Grace and Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions. She has also written Exploring Grace Together and Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships With the Love of Jesus. Jess believes the truth that salvation is "naked confidence in the mercy of God." She has been married to her high school sweetheart since 1995. Together they have three teenage children.