What do you do when you suffer? Do you moan and groan? Do you complain to a friend? Do you phone your mom? If I’m honest, often I think “Who can I call?” I want to talk out my problems and hopefully find solutions through the discussion. Sometimes this works, but the results are usually incomplete.
I see a lot of suffering in the world right now. Personally, I have a family member in the hospital. Again. Chronic stuff is miserable because as soon as you think the person is better, the pain rears its ugly head. A lot of my friends seem to be under a squeeze right now too with knee injuries, unemployment, cancer. The list is long and ugly and too big for me to crack. Even if I phone my mom, she can’t fix all these problems.
Instead of calling friends or family, I need to call God. James 5:13a says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (NKJV). Wow. The Bible is clear in what to do when we are suffering. We should pray.
When we pray, we unleash the God of the universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, to enter the equation. We allow all of His strength and ability to fill in the holes of our human inabilities. God can solve the problems of the world today – be they big or small. We need to come with faith like a child, knowing that God cares and will act on our behalf. Psalm 18:6 says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears” (NKJV).
I want God to hear my cry. Many times, I’ve prayed with passion, fearing if I didn’t say all the right words that God may not help. Now I realize that does not align with God’s character. He cares more about the heart of the person praying than the words they speak. When we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groans that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26-27). With the Holy Spirit as our prayer buddy, with the right heart we can never pray wrong. The prayer of surrender to God is never easy, but we will have the best results when we do it His way.
Maybe you are suffering right now. Keep your quarter, and don’t phone home. First, call upon the Lord, and He will listen to you. Let Him know the depths of your pain. He can handle it. Leave your problems in His hands and trust Him to comfort you and make a way. The path may not look how you expected, but stay on it no matter how narrow the road. It will lead you deeper into the heart of God as He sees you through all your cares. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7 NKJV). His timing is perfect. Keep praying. Trust God’s character. One day, the Lord will dry every tear you cry in suffering and turn it into a thing of beauty for His glory.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.