24th January 2024
''Got Questions Ministries' ask'
"How is the Lord near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18)?"
Where is God in the midst of our troubles? According to Psalm 34:18, He is close by.
The question of evil and suffering remains one of the critic's quickest objections to the existence of God, or at least to the existence of the Christian God.
However, knowing that suffering can coexist with a good God only solves part of the problem. What about when we are suffering?
The Christian is expected to run to God's Word for help. How does this work? How does God stay close to the broken-hearted?
If He's God and we're not, shouldn't He be far away?
A distant god is the deistic conception.
The God of the Bible is nothing like that. While He's self-sufficient, He is interested and vested in His creation.
In the pages of Scripture, we see God taking an active role in human history.
He communicates with people, gives instruction for proper behaviour, judges when needed, and ultimately comes down to redeem them from the guilt of sin.
Here are some ways God remains near the broken-hearted:
1. He offers comfort. The apostle Paul is not a stranger to suffering, pain, and persecution. In 2 Corinthians 11, we get a glimpse of what life was like for the apostle.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, et.c.
Paul's suffering is more than many people will ever experience, yet at the beginning of the same letter is a doxology that shows what must have helped Paul go through the difficulties:
God gives the "peace that surpasses all understanding".
He reminds us of His promises in Scripture. He moves through the people around us.
This is why we should continually fellowship with God and other followers of Jesus.
The cliché "no man is an island" applies to the Christian faith. Fellow believers can offer resources, advice, a listening ear, and shoulders to lean on.
Furthermore, God is sovereign over everything that happens to us - good or bad. This pushes us to rest in His wisdom, even when we don't understand.
2. He delivers us. Besides offering comfort, God can also show us a way out of the situation.
In the Lord's Prayer, we're instructed to say, "Deliver us from the evil one".
Jesus wouldn't have included this part of the prayer if it weren't necessary.
God's perspective is different from ours, and sometimes He lets us go through particularly difficult situations.
We don't always know why this happens, but there are good reasons.
For the non-Christian, suffering is a wake-up call and a reminder that this world doesn't satisfy.
For the Christian, suffering is a means by which God sanctifies us to become more like Jesus.
That being said, God is also our deliverer, both in this life and the next.
We can be reassured that God at times does take trouble away from people; when He doesn't, we can trust that He has a better plan.
3. He walks us through suffering. The evergreen poem "Footprints in the Sand" comes to mind.
God carries us through the suffering while trimming out sin in us so we will be "conformed to the image of Christ".
It is worth noting that Christianity doesn't promise a life void of suffering.
A trouble-free life is the promise of prosperity preachers and the view of some Eastern religions, but that's not what we get in the Bible.
Jesus promised His followers that "in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world"
Even the incarnate Son of God didn't have all His wishes met here on earth.
When the ordeal in front of Him seemed too much, He entrusted Himself to the Father's will and was comforted.
This should serve as a good example and an encouragement in our trials.
4 He remains faithful. Finally, God remains near to the broken-hearted by being faithful, even if we struggle with remaining faithful to Him.
God is our compassionate comforter and deliverer.
This is an edited version.
The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request
Got Questions Ministries
Got Questions Ministries is comprised of dedicated and trained servants who have a desire to assist others in their understanding of God, Scripture, salvation, and other spiritual topics.
We are Christian, Protestant, evangelical, theologically conservative, and non-denominational.
We are a para-church ministry, coming alongside the church to help people find answers to their spiritually related questions.
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