Joy in Suffering: A Conversation in Light of COVID-19 (Transcript)

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Jimmy Buehler: Hi, this is Jimmy. Today on the podcast, the guys discuss the joy in trial and suffering. No doubt your life has been upended in recent weeks with the COVID-19 virus. We take a look at the book of James amongst other Scriptures, and we seek to help all of our listeners to understand that these passages are not meant to draw us to trials themselves (and the joy of the trial), but rather to the goodness and the grace that we find in Christ in the midst of these trials. In our members podcasts, we seek to go after some of the platitudes and the simplicities (or the oversimplification) of certain churches and approaches to trial and suffering. So we hope this conversation is beneficial to you. Stay tuned.

Jon Moffitt: I think everybody’s feeling at the moment that this is definitely a trial. Some would call it suffering because there are people who are suffering. I know in every context – Jimmy and Justin, we’ve all been on the phone about this – that we have church members going without jobs, that are concerned about their health and the health of their loved ones. We’re all feeling this. There are probably people listening that have someone who’s sick or have even died as far as it relates to the current trial; we don’t want to be insensitive. Justin and I, when the unfortunate Kobe Bryant incident hit the news, we spoke to that about being sensitive when someone dies and how to care for them. We want to be careful not to quote Romans 8:28 here, check the box and say, “Trust God. Everything is going to be fine,” because trusting God and “everything is going to be fine” does not remove suffering and pain.

Paul is a great example of this where he trusted God yet his pain remained and it still bothered him. He even said that it bothered him to the point where he asked God three times and God said, “My grace is sufficient.” But that didn’t remove the suffering, the hurt, and the pain. You have a command from James 1:2 and from Romans 5:3-5 from both these men who tell you to face your struggles and trials with joy, which the way I hear it is, “Fake it ’til you make it. Put a smile on. Don’t let the world know you’re down. You’re a Christian so you better keep that frown upside down.” I don’t know about you guys but that’s what it feels like when you read those verses. That’s my initial takeaway. Am I crazy there? In the past, have you guys read it and go, “Yeah, I’m not sure what they are trying to do here.”

Jimmy Buehler: Something I said to our church over Facebook live last Sunday is what’s interesting to note is the various online Christian communities and how they are processing this trial, this virus, and all of the different things that we are all collectively facing. It’s not so crazy here in the Upper Midwest. We don’t have the amount of cases that perhaps people on the coastal regions in the United States, or even around the world, are experiencing. I know in Europe it’s being very hard hit right now so they’re tangibly seeing it. The most that people are facing here is the loss of temporary work, not getting things that they’re used to getting at the grocery store, and so on.

But it is interesting to see the collective online Christian community and how they process. What I mean by that is you’re starting to see all of the memes and the pictures. I think the Tozer quote is going around – I don’t want to misquote him so I’m sure somebody will correct me on Facebook later – but I think it’s like “a fearful time calls for a fearless church” kind of thing. Certainly, Scripture is chock full of calls to endurance, perseverance, greater hope, and greater realities that we have in Christ. But one of the things that I encouraged our church is to really treat this as a season of lament: we lament not being able to gather together, to not sing and pray and receive pardon together, that we are suffering. I’ve been very interested in all the calls to not necessarily perseverance, but all the calls to positivity.

Justin Perdue: I agree with Jon’s assessment that a lot of times the way James 1 in particular, maybe Romans 5, but especially James 1:2-4 are presented is a couple of things. First, when you encounter a trial, you just need to smile, be happy, and be joyful because what’s going on is just swell. Everything’s great. That’s not the thrust of the Bible.

To Jimmy’s point, lament is all throughout scripture. I sent a reflection out to our church yesterday, the email about lament through Scripture – that question of “How long, oh Lord” is littered throughout the Bible. God’s people, for millennia, have been asking that question, have been wrestling with the anguish of the soul, horrible circumstances, and all of these things in light of God and His faithfulness. The challenge and the struggle for the believer is to reconcile those things. My life is hard and yet God is a God of steadfast love. And so those things are put next to one another in Scripture all the time. My initial thought on this is that, like James 1:2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” The way that sometimes ends up being framed in the church is that trials, in and of themselves, are joyful – and that’s not true. If I was going to blow up one thing today, it would be the notion that trials, in and of themselves, and suffering, in and of itself, is somehow a good thing. It’s not – it’s terrible. This is where this kind of thinking, like you said, Jon, “Fake it ’til you make it. Put on a smile.”

Jimmy, stuff that you are alluding to results to people saying things like, “My cancer is a gift.” I don’t think that’s true; cancer is awful and it’s terrible. The statement being made in James 1 or Romans 5 about considering these things joyful because steadfastness, hope, character, and all these things are being produced in you and your faith ultimately is being refined, strengthened, and sustained. It’s not a statement about the goodness of the trial; it’s a statement about how great our God is who works through trial to sanctify and strengthen us, to sustain our faith, and to bolster our assurance. Because that’s what He does. That’s the misconception that I know we’re going to speak to throughout our time today, but I want to set the table with that.

Jimmy Buehler: I want to be clear that all of us around the mics uphold a very high view of God’s divine providence; that He is in control of all things. I really appreciate our church confession which is chapter five, paragraph one of the 1689 London Baptist Confession: “God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, arranges, and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by his perfectly wise and holy providence, to the purpose for which they were created.” I think that is important to help frame this conversation that all of us do hold to a high view of divine providence.; that indeed God is not surprised by things that come upon our life, whether they be a novel coronavirus, cancer, a tragic accident, or anything like that; that all of us pastorally would approach those topics with sensitivity and ultimately point people to a big, good, loving, and providential God.

But at the same time, it is more correct to point people to a good God in trial than the goodness of the trial. I think that’s what Justin was wonderfully saying. I remember when we had Chad Bird on a couple of months ago and he talked about the phrase, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” I bet I could go to any cancer survivor and say, “If you could not have cancer, would you want that?” I’m sure all of them would say, “Yes, I would want to forego the months of chemo and different therapies that I had to go through.” We want to count it joy when we face trials because it bolsters our faith not in ourselves and the way we handle them, but in God who sustains us. But we don’t want to celebrate the trial itself in an almost masochistic sense.

Jon Moffitt: John Calvin’s commentary on Romans 5 – he made a statement that stunned me; I sat back and literally had to contemplate for about an hour. And I think he’s right. He says this: “All sorrows we endure contribute to our salvation and final good,” which immediately people are up in arms about the concept of contributing. But if you understand what James and Paul in Romans 5 are saying, that trials and struggles expose our sin and our frailty. The confession, even when he was quoting chapter five, point three, in the Providence of God, it says that He allows us to linger for a time in ongoing sin so that we will have a greater dependence upon God. What passage did they reference? They referenced Romans 5.

I think that’s a fair example that when we head into a trial, when we find ourselves in the midst of this trial – and he’s not speaking of sinful trials (I think there are spiritual, physical, and sinful trials) – and Peter says you’re going to suffer. Don’t suffer for the sake of your own sin.

Let’s be clear here: not all trials are because you’ve done something sinful, but it’s exposing the weakness of your flesh heart. We are so easily enthralled by the comforts and ease of this life that when we face a trial, trials test our comfortability; it’s the only way, otherwise it wouldn’t be a trial. Why else would you call it a trial? So when you’re talking about a spiritual trial, you’re probably being persecuted for your faith. You’re being attacked for standing up for your view of marriage or the Bible or sexuality.

When it comes to a physical trial where you have some kind of sickness, pain, suffering, or for instance, coronavirus, what it’s attacking is our comfortability of life. It reminds us that this life is not what brings us hope. This life is not the end of all means. It reminds us that this place is broken; it is destroyed by sin. The only thing that makes it right is what is to come, which is our hope. This is why in Romans 5, he starts with “our hope is the faith in Jesus Christ” and then he ends with the glorious hope to come. I couldn’t agree with John Calvin more when he says that trials contribute in that it bolsters our faith, it strengthens. Of course, trials can’t make you saved but they definitely can strengthen you in the one who is saving you.

Justin Perdue: One way I might articulate that, Jon, in agreeing with you and agreeing with Calvin is if we think about ourselves, we’ve all gone through trials before. If we’ve been in the faith for long, we’ve been through a period of trial and suffering, and because we’re still sitting here, people listening to this show and the three of us today still trusting Christ, we can give this testimony. And this is a lot of the utility of trial. We go into something that is hard. In particular right now, and thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re talking about something that has happened to us.

Jon Moffitt: Like you were saying, Jon, this is not something brought upon us by our own sin directly. It’s a result of sin in terms of the curse, right? This is an Ecclesiastes, Genesis 3 world kind of reality. To use the language of 2 Corinthians 12 – Paul’s thorn in the flesh – he’ll talk about boasting all the more, not only in weaknesses, in insults, in persecution, but even calamities. Calamity is really what we’re going through right now. It’s happening to us. If we could change it, we would; it’s hard. As we go into this, we are going to experience a season of time where we will suffer in various ways. The kind of left-to-ourselves reasonable conclusion is to doubt God, to struggle, to not trust Him, and to question everything with respect to what He’s revealed about Himself and about His Son and the way of redemption. When we make it through this trial, which we will by God’s grace, on the other side we will look back and we will see that f we could have left Christ, we would have. If left to myself, I would have punted the faith.

Justin Perdue: Yet here I am today still trusting the Lord and casting my hope upon Christ. How in the world did that happen? We conclude that my faith is not my own; God is the one who gave it to me; God is the one who is sustaining it; God is the one strengthening and confirming it in the midst of and through horrible circumstances, not apart from them. It’s a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God to keep us in the faith. A lot of the value of trial is that it refines our faith in that sense. We realize all the more, as our confession says in chapter 11.1 at the very end of that first paragraph on justification talking about faith, it says, “And this faith is not their own; it is the gift of God.” We learn that all the more through trial – it strengthens us and it bolsters our assurance.

Jimmy Buehler: I have two things. The first thing, I want to make a statement; the second thing, I’m going to throw out a question, let you guys wrestle with that, and we can all collectively wrestle with that. But the first thing I want to say is, as we talk about our faith being bolstered, I have found great comfort in passages like Psalm 13, Psalm 46, and even Isaiah 53 where Isaiah 53 gives us a picture of Christ as the suffering servant. In those times where we are experiencing great suffering and calamity, we remember that we do not have a God who is distant from this. This is something that I have said to our church, but Isaiah 53 gives us this wonderful picture of a Jesus who is not distant from sin and death, but rather a Jesus who allowed himself to be crucified by it, was buried by it, rose again, and defeated those things. That is key: that we look to and we behold, as God’s people in these times, the finished work of Christ.

I’m mindful of Jesus in the garden before his crucifixion. “Father, if there is a different way to get this done, can we do it that way? And yet not my will be done, but Yours.” Even Jesus himself wrestled with earthly suffering, so to speak. I guess the question that I have for all of us to consider is: we are big on what we call the ordinary means of grace – the gathering of God’s people to have our faith strengthened through outward and ordinary means – and so in this time where all of these things are lacking, what do we encourage people regarding that?

Jon Moffitt: I think we always have to use extraordinary circumstances. Back in the day, they used letters. Paul spoke of letters that were sent to him. He sent letters to other people for the sake of encouragement. We are reading a letter from James and we are reading a letter from Paul for the sake of encouragement. I think the early church used whatever means possible to encourage each other. I think that we can do the same here in extreme circumstances. Paul, in prison, says, “I’m in prison right now. Can you send me some stuff? Because I can’t get out. Can you send me somebody to encourage me and can you send me my books? And I could also use a jacket.” I think, in a way, Paul was trying to encourage himself best he knew how because he couldn’t go hear the preached word. He couldn’t receive the table. In circumstances where we find ourselves today, that it is not ideal; it is not best; it’s not what we want. Every day I long to hug one of my church members, to hear communion given to me by one of my elders, and to see people doing corporate confession. I cannot wait. Online is kind of like eating fast food. It’s necessary, but it’s not what I want. I have got to eat. And you know what happens when you eat fast food long enough? I do it on vacation – it’s called indigestion. And I think we’re all going to get it eventually. Spiritually speaking, we’re all going to be like, “I need to be cleansed through the preaching of the word.”

To answer your question, Jimmy, I think we got to hold our nose and wait for the sovereign God to do what He’s going to do. JP, I know you want to answer that but before I move on (because I’m afraid I’m going to lose this thought), I want to go back to something that both of you guys were saying. Hebrews 4:15 has become such a precious passage for me. It says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” And I love that in the trial.

The reason we can have joy is that in my trial, what is being exposed is my hope in something that is other than God. What I’m hearing from Hebrews is Jesus knows; he understands. Then he says, “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin.” He has also experienced those temptations, maybe not the same exact ones as I have because some are based upon my sinful nature (theological debate), but where I take comfort is that in the midst of these trials, my Savior understands how I feel. I go through these trials because he’s peeling back that which is distracting me from where the real sense of joy and the real sense of hope is. All of us who are doing this online stuff and virtual stuff, we have a sympathetic Father and a sympathetic Savior who understands our circumstances. I trust that in these trials we’re going to come out stronger in our faith, not weaker.

Justin Perdue: I will quickly answer Jimmy’s question and then offer another thought. My brief answer to the question of what do we do right now as men who uphold a very historic, reformed understanding of the ordinary means (and it’s appropriate that we do that)? We need spiritual nourishment and God has told us how to get it. But then, in this season where we’re providentially hindered from gathering, what do we do? My thought is these are exceptional times, under the providence of God, that we are kept from the ordinary means and I trust that God will give extraordinary grace in this season. That’s the message that I’m going to continue to hold out to my people in our local church: God’s got this. This has not surprised Him; God has been faithful to His people throughout history, whether we’re talking about exile or Babylonian captivity, or we’re talking about persecution when people were in prison and they’re providentially hindered from gathering with the people of God.

God sustains and gives grace, and I trust He’s going to do the same now. You can trust the Lord. We’re pointing people to God and His character, His goodness, His faithfulness, His grace, and telling them to rest there even as the ordinary means are kept from us for a season. So that’s the short answer on that front.

I want to pick up on stuff that you guys are saying. One thought is that God is very careful and loving in the ways that He uses our sorrows. He is not frivolous and wasteful with them. He spends our sorrows well. I’m mindful of Psalm 56:8 where David will use the language of, “You’ve kept my tears in your bottle. You’ve kept count of my tears.” God is aware; He is not distant and removed and cold-hearted towards us. He is intimately involved in all of the things that we go through, including our suffering, and our trials. He’s aware of every tear and so He’s going to spend those sorrows well and not waste them one bit.

I, too, am comforted, as you brothers have said, in thinking about whether it’s a Hebrews 4 reality, an Isaiah 53 reality, or the Garden of Gethsemane reality that Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer. He knows what it’s like to experience anguish and the dark night of the soul; I find that to be a great comfort. I know Charles Spurgeon would say, in thinking about depression and melancholy and the dark night of the soul, he would say there are times when believers are going through things and they’re not even comforted ultimately by the hope of heaven. They’re not even comforted ultimately by the realities of the cross. But they are comforted tremendously by the Christ of Gethsemane because they see in Jesus a God who took on flesh and a Savior who knows what it’s like to suffer and to hurt. He can empathize with us in our pain and in our weakness. It’s a phenomenal thing to reflect on in this time as we’re wrestling with anxieties and all the stuff that’s going through our minds and hearts.

Jimmy Buehler: I want to take a bit of a turn here. I’m sure that you guys have seen this floating around: the popular post and repost that says during this time, we Christians can show that church has never been about the building – it has always been about the people. Certainly. I don’t know any churches that outwardly worship their building. (Speaking from a church plant context, a building just sounds really nice, to be honest.) One of the things that I want to push against is this whole idea. For one, we all agree that church is about the people, but that’s the problem. People can’t gather right now. I don’t know what good that post and repost is doing.

Justin Perdue: I’m not quite sure where the other than trying to demonstrate.

Jimmy Buehler: Church is about the people, but I can’t even bring you stuff because it’s got germs on it. So there’s that.

But here’s the other thing that I wanted to say: I want to come to the defense, or maybe come to the offense, against this whole idea of seeing who is really committed at this time. “We’re really going to see who the real Christians are.” What does that mean? Like the people that are suddenly reading their Bible more? I don’t know. To the listener out there, you’re living in a really awkward time and I don’t want to put that Law on you that it’s like, “Well, you have all this extra time at home. You better be filling it with fruitful and productive spiritual exercises.” I don’t think there’s a template of God’s expectations of us during this time, more in our situation that we can’t come together and we are a people of prayer, but I don’t think it’s anything outside of the normal rhythms and activities of your everyday life.

It’s not like we all of a sudden are going to become like A+ Christians during this time. I don’t know about you guys, but our tempers are raging in the home right now.

Jon Moffitt: That’s normal for the wintertime.

Jimmy Buehler: For us, too, it’s still cold up here. Maybe where you’re listening you can go outside and take a little walk because it’s 70 degrees. But here it’s still in the 30s. We’re like, “I just need to go outside. Never mind. I’m not going outside. It’s too cold.” Just to bring you comfort again, what Justin has said so well that these are extraordinary times, and we trust in God’s extraordinary grace even to point us to the 1689 chapter five, paragraph three, it says, “In his ordinary providence, God makes use of means.”

So in His ordinary providence, and in ordinary everyday life, we recognize that the way our faith is strengthened is through the outward and ordinary means of word and sacrament. But we also see in paragraph three that though God “is free to work apart from them, beyond them, and contrary to them at His pleasure.” And so I think we just find some comfort there that God is going to sustain us, not because of our grip to Him, but rather because of His grip to us through the gospel, through Christ.

Jon Moffitt: That is so encouraging.

Just to tag on quick to what Jimmy and what Justin just said: for me, in the midst of this trial, the thing that encourages me (and that I’m trying to encourage other people with) is that there is no suffering that goes unused. What I mean by that is sometimes, when we hear God works all things for good, we’re thinking, “Well, my finances aren’t good, my health isn’t good, and you can’t bring this person back to life.” I guess you could but you haven’t, and so that’s not good. We are so connected to what this world has to offer that we think the good is here and now. I honestly don’t think Paul means that in Romans 8:28 and I don’t think it’s meant here either. Calvin, when he said that quote, he says our final good is the good in the glorious state we find ourselves in.

All of the sufferings that comes into our life is used to keep our focus, which is so easily pulled onto anything but Christ. It’s never used except to give us hope and assurance and to help us persevere. One, Paul flat out says that and so does James – it is to strengthen our perseverance, which is for our final good. Just to comment on James really quick in light of final good, James 1:4 says, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” There’s no way he means that now because that would contradict the rest of Scripture of us being sinless, which is impossible.

What he’s saying is your trials produce joy because you know your trials are what will keep your faith, which is going to perfect you. It’s an eschatological idea: he’s pushing you past your current reality to your ultimate hope. If the trials that you’re facing doesn’t do that, you’re losing sight of the gospel because the gospel does not promise recovery now, it promises recovery in his return. Trials keep us in that temporary state of hope. Don’t hope in this life because it will constantly let you down.

Justin Perdue: Along those same lines, Jon, I’m mindful of Psalm 77 written by Asaph. A number of the songs that Asaph pinned are very gripping in this way. He begins Psalm 77 talking about his own anguish and difficulties that he’s experiencing. He is crying aloud to God and he’s seeking the Lord in his time of trouble. He is acknowledging that his hands are stretched out in the night and his soul refuses to be comforted. Psalm 77:3 says this, “When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints.” Even those things are not helping him right now.

Psalm 77:4, “You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” I trust that many people are listening to me read those verses right now and they’re like, “You read my mail.” That’s how they feel in the midst of this suffering, in the midst of this time where we are kept from other human beings and from community. “I’m worried about my job and I’ve got loved ones who are sick.” Or maybe, “I’m sick and I’m afraid for my physical wellbeing.” So Asaph goes on to wrestle with God in Psalm 77, “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?” He asked all these questions.

Where does he go? Jon, you were just talking about the eternal hope that we have and the rock-solid promises of God to us in Christ Jesus. Well, Asaph in Psalm 77 says here’s what he’s going to do: “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” And he’s going to remember the mighty deeds of God. Where he ends up going in the last few verses of this song, he thinks back to God’s mighty work of deliverance in Exodus. He talks about God’s way being through the sea, ” your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” He’s going to think about the fact that God is a Redeemer, that God is a Savior, and that God is a Deliverer.

In our context, we are looking to the greater Exodus that Jesus has accomplished on behalf of his people, where we have been not just delivered from bondage and slavery in a physical country, but we’ve been delivered from bondage and slavery to sin, death, and the devil. When we can’t sleep, when our eyelids are held open, when we moan, and our spirit is fainting, we recall the fact that our God is a Savior and that He has promised us life with him forever through Christ and that He saved us. That’s the ultimate comfort. And sometimes people are like, “Well, how does that help me? How does it help me right now and the things that I’m going through?” We just continue to hold out the hope of Christ and say, “Brother, sister, this doesn’t take the pain away. This doesn’t remove all fear, but this is your hope and confidence. And when everything is falling apart around you, this is your hope instead.”

Jimmy Buehler: JP and I were discussing this yesterday over the phone: realistically, as you look at the book of Psalms – the Bible’s worship and prayer book – over one-third of the Psalms begin with the posture of asking God where in the world He is. Where are you? Psalm 13 – I shared this as a meditation with our church last Sunday. All Psalms of lament have a very similar outline. The first chunk typically begins with a crying out to God: “Where are you? Why is this happening? What’s going on? Can you please answer my questions?” The second chunk of the Psalm is asking God for faith and for help.

And then the last part is, as JP talked about, we remember the deeds of the Lord and his faithfulness in the past. Even Psalm 13:5-6, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” You think of the Psalmist as he wrote this. He is recounting deeds past. Even greater for us now, under the beauty of the new covenant, that we can look back to Jesus Christ and his finished work; that we can look back to the gospel and what God has declared over us in Christ; that we are indeed holy, made righteous, made pure, and made blameless in His sight.

Even as we think about this virus and the threat that it brings, statistically speaking, are you going to die from this virus? Probably not. Now don’t take my non-scientific word for it but whenever something like this – a pandemic or some sort of crisis – comes up, we start to wade through life and death. Our faith is not in how we weather the storm. Our faith is not in how well we execute the Christian life during a crisis, but our faith is where it always is in good times and bad – and that’s in Christ and Christ alone.

Jon Moffitt: I want to read a quote from CS Lewis that I read in an article by Horton, which I think was super helpful. I posted it on the Theocast Facebook page. I can’t remember the name of the article, but the quote from CS Lewis says this, “Do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways.”

The point of it is that what we tried to preserve here in this life is just futile. We’re going to all die most likely a painful death. You can try and live your life preventing that or you can understand that “My hope is not here. I found my place – a resting place – is outside of my current circumstances. This is not Debbie Downer. This is not giving in. I’m not saying you shouldn’t concern about your health or that you shouldn’t wash your hands. I mean the exact opposite of the article and what Lewis is saying, but what he’s saying is that the world has not changed from the fall just because of the coronavirus or the atomic bomb or the plague. I guess it’s a way to sign off with hope.

Justin Perdue: Lamentations 3 is a familiar passage to many people, but sometimes we gloss over it. We quote verses 21-25 all the time and we don’t quote them mindful of the context in which they occur. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet for a reason; he writes a lot in the book of Jeremiah and lamentations about horrible realities that the people of God are experiencing in Jerusalem under Babylonian captivity. He is just repeatedly talking about how the people have been reduced to cannibalism and eating their children, and all these kinds of things in the suffering is just terrible and unmitigated. He even talks about his own lot, the wormwood, the gall, the bitterness, and all this stuff. Then he immediately interjects in the midst of that flow of thought: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.”

He goes on to talk about how God’s mercies are new and all of those sorts of things. “’The Lord is my portion,’” says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” If you read Lamentations straight through and you get to those words, they’re almost shocking. Where do these words come from? They would be shocked if the Bible were not full of the same kind of stuff all throughout Scripture. The suffering and the plight of fallen man, and our pain is placed right next to the steadfast love and faithfulness of God; how those things hang together in every detail we do not fully understand. When we start trying to overstate that relationship, we do stupid things with it and we misrepresent God or we misrepresent pain. What we want to uphold here is the reality that life is hard and our God is a God of steadfast love. He rules and reigns, and He will work all things for the eternal good of His people. And what we are called to, in the midst of suffering like now, is to encourage one another to trust the Lord and to keep trusting Christ.

Jimmy Buehler: This has been a really good and helpful conversation. Forgive me guys; I was just actually texting another group of friends and told them that we were recording right now and I’m like, “I’m just really encouraged.” It’s good. Even though we’re socially distanced, I’m grateful for the technology that God has given us in his common grace that we can still gather.

Thank you to the listener for tuning in to this conversation. We hope and pray that you found it helpful. Far be it from us to ever leave you with something to do, but if we could encourage you with something, please pray for your pastor. Encourage him, shoot him a text, tell him that you love him and that you’re supportive of him. These are extraordinary times – it’s very difficult and requires a lot of wisdom as we think about shepherding God’s people. So pray for him. God will sustain you during this time. Keep your eyes upon Christ.

We’re going to pop over to our members podcast. If you would like more information about getting involved there, or what it means to be a member, you can head to our website theocast.org where you can find more information of what it means to be a total access member. So again, thank you for tuning into this conversation and we hope that you found it helpful as you seek to rest in Christ.

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