Day 37: Comfort in Trials
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
My sons were gravely confined to suits during their uncle’s wedding. So right after the family pictures, they ripped off their pink bow ties and started shooting them in the air like slingshots. It was a time of raucous celebration—not over the wedding, but over their glorious freedom. That’s how I picture Lazarus as his friends unbound his graveclothes (John 11:44) and the joy we too should have in God’s deliverance (Prov. 29:2a). Even harder, however, is to maintain joy in the midst of the trial (Jas. 1:2). The way of escape often runs through the difficulty, not around it (1 Cor. 10:13). True faith faces all of life.
Dads, speak honestly about affliction, for it is normal to hurt and necessary to grieve: “God, those words really hurt me. I feel angry all the time. I’m too proud to ask for help.” Practice the psalmist’s candor: “Lord, I cannot stop my tears or push back the stubborn darkness. My enemies taunt me to doubt your presence and I long for the past when I worshipped you freely. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Ps. 42:3-5a). Prayer is messy, even impolite, like a child bursting through the door with a skinned-up knee. Yet a loving father will never turn away his hurting child: “Walk back through that door and try it again.” Instead, he holds her close and comforts her with gentle embrace. So also, your heavenly Father hears your raw complaints, knowing they are not the finished product of your heart (Prov. 13:12a; 18:14). Your God accepts groaning as part of life in a fallen world (Rom. 8:22), yet also part of his sovereign plan (v. 28a). Are you angry or grieving a loss? Then run to the Lord in prayer. Pour out your messy heart to him and seek his refuge, for “blessed is he who trusts in the LORD” (Prov. 16:20b). “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:17-18). Christ calls to you in the midst of your pain, just as he called forth Lazarus (John 11:43).
So dads, do not sing “songs to a heavy heart” (Prov. 25:20), but “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15b). Even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). Help your children grieve their losses while trusting God’s purpose in the pain.
Is God sovereign? The Christian answers, “Yes!” (Lam. 3:37-38).
“Did God prevent the trial?” Often, the answer is, “No” (e.g., Job 1-2).
“Then what do you think a good God is doing in the midst of your trial?” (Gen. 50:20).
Dads, teach your children that sin ushered sorrow into the world and destroyed the paradise that once had been. Exhort them to long for heaven—a better place where life will never end in loss (Rev. 21:4). Help them find joy even in the midst of suffering, for “a joyful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22a; 15:13a). Then if their heart is good, they can rejoice in the midst of any trial. Even in the throes of grief, lead them to the Shepherd who carries them gently (Ps. 28:9; Isa. 40:11). Comfort is knowing the presence of God in the presence of suffering—his strength despite their weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
Dads, teach your children to receive God’s comfort through his Word and warn them also against false comforts described in Proverbs: the lure of wine and women, wealth and wicked men. Many cope with loss through alcohol or illicit drugs, gluttony or hording, the rush of adrenaline or digital distraction. Wherever you turn in the face of suffering is the god you claim will save. Yet Paul declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction” (2 Cor. 1:3-4a). Dads, do you trust the Lord even when life hurts? Do you know the God of all comfort who designs your suffering to lead you into worship? Confident trust means longing fervently for heaven while living passionately for God on earth. So even in grief, “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18a) and perceive the evidences of God’s grace. Do not wait until suffering ends, but rejoice in the midst of trials (Jas. 1:2). Do not despair, but entrust yourself to God’s greater purpose—his eternal plan. God’s redemptive story never ignores your pain, but rather fills it with meaning. He brings beauty out of ashes (Isa. 61:3) and “has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Prov. 16:4). God uses even the sin of others and the suffering we experience to bring about his good purposes.
Finally dads, teach your children the good news of the cross on which your Savior died. On that cursed tree of death (Gal. 3:13), God sent his Son to “swallow up death forever” (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 20:14) and “destroy the one who has the power of death” (Heb. 2:14-15). Christ died so that you should not and rose again to claim his victory. So although this fallen world still echoes death, you know how the story ends. The One who weeps with you in suffering is not content with life as is. His death was a cry (John 19:30) and his resurrection a promise (1 Pet. 1:3). So look to Jesus, “[the] man of sorrows acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3) who will one day wipe away every tear (Rev. 7:17; 21:4). “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; [Jesus] has overcome the world” (John 16:33b). “A crushed spirit who can bear” (Prov. 18:14b)? Only Christ!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your gracious comfort in my affliction. I can truly count it all joy in the midst of trials when I am trusting in your sovereign plan. Help me to shepherd my children through any grief and loss they face in life and teach us always to fix our eyes on our glorious eternity with you. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
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