How To Face Suffering
By Oswald J. Smith (1889 – 1986)
From far and near I have received hundreds of letters, many filled with confessions of heartache too sacred to mention. No wonder the teardrops fall. Your life has been so hard, your trials so many, and your burdens so heavy, as you have struggled on.
O troubled soul, O aching heart, look up! God knows. God cares. And “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psa. 84:11). Your part is to live for Him, to put Him first in your life. For if you do, you have His solemn word of promise that nothing really good will be withheld. He has a far better plan for your life than you have. And He wants you to have His best.
Remember this: God is all-wise. Therefore, He knows what is best. And then He is all-loving. Hence He will do what is best. Now if He is all-wise and knows what is best, and all-loving and will do what is best, surely you can trust Him.
No father ever cared more dearly. No husband ever loved more deeply. Not for one moment has He forgotten you. The God who sees the sparrow fall, and who numbers the hairs of your head, has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5), and He never will. He loves you with an everlasting love.
In all points He was tempted as you have been. Hence, He can sympathize. “In all their affliction,” the Bible says, “He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9). He knew what it was to suffer and to be lonely. His disciples all forsook Him and fled. Alone in the garden He prayed. Alone He wept. No one understood Him. All misinterpreted His actions. And when He died, He died alone. Oh, beloved, remember Gethsemane. Remember Calvary. And in your suffering and loneliness think of Him.
And then, let me remind you of the fact that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28), for they do. All things. That bitter disappointment, the loss of the one you loved, your bereavement, the vacant chair, the empty cradle, the saddest experience in your life – all things – God will see that they work together for good. He cannot do otherwise. You simply must trust.
His love can never fail. Others may change; He never will. He is the “same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Human affection is always uncertain. Divine love is unchanging and unchangeable. And oh, how rich, how boundless is God’s love! What an ocean of affection is His! And how He longs to lavish it on His children, and so to fill the vacancy and bind up the broken heart. What fathomless love! And it may be yours. Oh, then, accept it. Press up just a little closer. Draw a little nearer. Love Him more. You will soon become conscious of such love and compassion, such mercy and tenderness, such peace and comfort, that you will be more than satisfied. His love will heal your broken heart and close up the wounds. God understands.
God understands your heartache,
He knows the bitter pain;
Oh, trust Him in the darkness,
You cannot trust in vain.
He understands your longing,
Your deepest grief He shares;
Then let Him bear your burden,
He understands, and cares.
So, then, learn to sup with Jesus. Enter into fellowship with Him. Let Him be your Companion, your Friend. Walk with Him, talk with Him. Tell Him all about your aching heart. Unburden your soul. Let Him into the deepest secrets of your life. You can trust Him. He will understand at once. So tell Him. And then you will hear His whisper, “Peace, be still,” and there will be “a great calm” (Mark 4:39).
“What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!”
I, too, have suffered. In my sorrow I turned to God. Alone I told Him all, cried my heart out, sought Him in the darkness, yielded to His will, and He did not fail me. “...Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psa. 30:5) was His first word of promise to me. And presently, one day, alone in the mountains, as the sun was sinking over the distant hills in the west, I heard His voice, and oh, the joy, the peace! It was like the calm after the storm, like sunshine after rain. His song filled my heart. He met me. And that very hour, long, long ago – I can remember it yet – I sat down and wrote, among others, these words:
Would I could bring the vision closer, nearer,
And give to you a glimpse of what is mine;
Teach you to know that earth’s most cruel affliction
Is not beyond the hand of Love Divine.
And that for each lone life a plan is waiting,
Sketched by the Master Architect above;
Checkered by joy and sorrow, yet proportion’d,
Far more of joy, the proof that God is love.
Yet sorrow speaks, and in sublime orations,
Brings to the heart the lessons it would teach;
unshine and rain the little seed requiring –
So God ordains to man a part of each.
Darkness and gloom beyond my comprehension
Until I knelt submissive to His will;
Now all is light, ineffable in brightness –
O wondrous love, beyond my knowledge still.
You see, I said from my heart, “Not my will but Thine be done.” And the peace came. Oh no, it is not easy to say, but say it, aching heart, and it will be the sweetest experience you have ever known. “Not my will, not mine, but Thine be done.”