Read: Ruth 1:1-5
On November 8th, 2018, the fires consumed and engulfed the city of Paradise, California. It was one of the deadliest fires in the history of the U.S., destroying over eighteen thousand buildings and burning over 150 thousand acres. Families helplessly watched the wildfire consume their homes as they escaped the hellish flames devouring everything they’d known and loved. Photographs, clothes, children’s toys, family heirlooms, books– all material possessions were taken away forever.
This was the same hopelessness that Naomi felt. In a culture and time where women weren’t able to work to provide for themselves and their family, Naomi was not only left without her husband and sons, but she had two daughters-in-law to care for (Ruth 2:1-2). This seems like a hopeless and unredemptive story.
It’s true that everyone experiences suffering, and that on this side of eternity we aren’t able to avoid it, but we have to continuously reset our mindset. There will be many times that all will seem lost as everything falls out of place. We have to remind ourselves of truth in times like that. The Bible doesn’t hide the fact that suffering is a part of life, especially the Christian life. Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He is also described in Isaiah 53 a “man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” We cannot avoid pain and suffering, so we must use it to strengthen us.
When you’re facing sorrow and hurt, don’t turn away from God. When you’re confused and angry, turn to Him in prayer. We have a big God, He can take all the hurt and anger we have. David in the Psalms turns to God many times asking why he is being persecuted and facing so much trouble. David took all these angry and frustrated questions to God. He didn’t turn from Him. In the same way, we mustn’t turn from God in anger, but should embrace and find comfort in Him.
We must realize, too, that we will not receive answers to all our questions. God will not always give a reason for what happened to you. This is where we must fall into His arms in trust.
What has been your attitude towards suffering? Has your view of hardship focused on trusting God or have you allowed yourself to fall into anxious thought patterns? What are ways you’ve grown and learned through hard times and how can you actively help the people around you who are currently in pain or suffering?