It’s not always (in fact, not usually) the tragic issues that test our faith. It is usually the subtle suffering: unfilfillment, insecurity, boredom, disappointment, low self-esteem, headaches, weariness, strained relationships, mundane routine, small prayers that seem unanswered, depression, social anxiety, and you add to the list. There are big moments that rattle us, but these things, unchecked, can where at us like decay. Because, while we are souls, we are embodied souls, and our Christians lives have no other stage but the one shared with these struggles.
I have been in a state of self-analysis lately as to the effect of these kinds of minute suffering on my own psyche, and it has been my desire to learn to submit these to the lordship of Christ. How do I be a light for Christ at work when I am tired and don’t feel like interacting with others? How do I give my future over to God when it seems uncertain and I can’t help but doubt? How do I have joy when I feel melancholy?
One thing that I have noticed in my study of Scripture is that the Bible does not leaves these things unaddressed. In fact, it embraces these issues head-on. Most of the Psalm’s are written from a state of agony. Paul’s gospel hope was expressed from a platform of being “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
The biblical worldview exists in the context of suffering. Nearly every chapter of the Bible deals with suffering. That is because the Christian faith is one of redemption. Christians shouldn’t be taken unaware by the problem of evil. The gospel mandate assumes it. Our theism gives us a basis by which we can label it a problem and our Savior gives us a solution.
The redemption found in Christ is the answer to our daily suffering both big and small. We can deal with our suffering by aligning our minds with the thoughts of the inspired biblical writers.
I’ll give one example of what I mean: Personally, my pessimism is most prevalent when I first wake up. My alarm goes off, interrupting my sleep cycle and some kind of disturbing dream. I stand in front of my dresser as all of my discouragements come immediately to mind. I feel worn down in mind, body, and emotions. I begin to recite the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” I take our dog outside and it is cold. As the wind blows on my face, I speak to God with honesty: “Father, I am discouraged. Help me.” By God’s grace, Romans 8:18-21 (ESV) comes to mind:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, no willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself might be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
I am reminded that the creation will not always be this way. The coldness on my skin is both temporary and redeemable. There will be a day (thanks be to God!) when I will not be tired, cold, or discouraged. The suffering sets my heart longing, and my longing sets my heart to worship.