A friend of mine, a seminary student in his mid twenties, was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. At this point, we do not know the prognosis, but having a large brain tumor does not sound encouraging. How does a young man like this keep from being crushed by this news? How does his wife handle it? God willing, he will be healed and forty years from now they will look back and talk of God’s work in their lives. But what if healing is not part of God’s plan? What if being a widow before she is even 30 is God’s plan?
There are many passages of Scripture and many themes of Scripture that could help people deal with such shocking news. There are the truths of heaven, there are the truths of God’s abiding presence, there are the promises that everything works together for good, there are complaints offered to God for deep times of suffering, and there are desperate cries to the Lord for help. We can think of themes such as God’s love, or God’s grace, the finished work of Jesus that removes forever the ultimate sting of death, and many more.
But I would like to talk about two anchors found in the Psalms for God’s people. I realize that there are more than two anchors in the book of Psalms, but two themes are regularly discussed that help people both praise the Lord and deal with deep suffering. Since this is a short article I simply want to direct your attention to the shortest Psalm in the Bible – Psalm 117. Psalm 117 is a praise Psalm, but these two themes are found all over the laments as well (consider Psalms 6, 12, and 13 to just name a few for these same themes in the midst of chaos).
Anchor #1: God’s lovingkindness is great toward me
Hope is found anytime I am willing to say that God is dealing with me according to love. I may not always understand why God has chosen a particular way to love me, but I can at least find hope in that I am loved. I can rest in the reality that God cares for me and that He is at work in my life. This is no more real than in the work of the Lord Jesus. It is in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus that I see God’s ultimate expression of love and care. It is in Jesus that I see God’s care for me – his beloved.
The problem is that when we suffer deeply, like my friend, it is easy to minimize or forget altogether the lovingkindness of the Lord. We get tunnel vision. We see only our suffering. But I find hope every time I am willing to put my deep pain in the context of the eternal world.
In moments of hurt, suffering, and difficulty I must tie my rope to the anchor that God’s lovingkindness is truly great towards me. My friend has tightly fastened his rope to this anchor.
Anchor #2: God’s truth is everlasting
The fact that God’s truth stands forever (Isaiah 40:8) is an incredible comfort in the days when facts seem illusive. Initially, physicians were not overly concerned with my friend’s symptoms. As more information became available, however, the seriousness of the situation began to set in.
When suffering strips us to our core, we need truth. Pious platitudes do not work in these moments. It is only the truth that stands forever. Everything other than God’s truth is like the anchor that drifts along the bottom.
Hook to the Anchors
If you are hurting today I want to gently encourage you to hook to these two anchors. It will give you perspective. The Lord God can meet you and help you in your pain. Whether your situation is as serious as the one described in the article or not, you still need the perspective that can only be gained through the Word of God and ministry of Jesus.
Run to him, hook your rope to these anchors; and find peace in the midst of chaos, courage in the midst of fear, and strength in the midst of weakness.