Advent: Waiting in the Dark, Part 2

And we boast in the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings…”

Romans 5:2-3

There is an awareness in us that knows that God, though He will work all things for our good, stills allows for pain and suffering. Jesus Himself said, “in this world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Scripture doesn’t hide the reality and calling upon our lives to suffer for Christ (1 Peter 2:21, 1 Peter 5:9, Romans 8:17). When dark times come upon us, I think this is what causes fear within us. We think, “God is not opposed to letting me suffer”. “God does not prevent pain from my life.” “God told me that I would suffer, and this suffering has a holy purpose. Who is to say how far it might go or how serious the suffering might become?” I don’t know about you, but as I think of suffering this is the primary point of contention that disturbs my peace.


We may have a good understanding of 98% of the revealed will of God in our suffering, but it’s the 2% withheld from us that plunges our souls into despair. The unknowns of “how long will this last?” “How much farther will he let this go?”. We are afraid of discomfort, and we begin to dread tomorrow because of it. 


In one of his beloved hymns, John Newton coins a phrase that encapsulates the purpose of trials in our lives. He credits these trials with God’s work to “break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may’st seek thy all in Me.” 


Isn’t this the test in our suffering? Are we willing to let the trials given to us break our hopes for this life so that we might be driven to seek our all in Christ alone? 


Shall we receive blessings from God but not trials? What might it mean for you today to “glory in your suffering”? 


Martin Luther once said that the true nature of our suffering is “to be adored as the very cross of Christ.” That is a hard pill to swallow. Though we do not know what God is doing, and we sit unaware under the hidden providences that are unfolding, we trust that this suffering—this test of our faith which breaks all schemes of earthly joy— will prove to be life to us in the end. Eternal life!


Last week we spent time meditating upon the darkness those before us walked through. Yet, for many of us, the darkness that this year has brought hangs over us like a dark cloud. We need to be reminded of how to wait in the dark and how to “glory in our sufferings”. I can’t think of a better time to stop and contemplate the coming of our Messiah.


Read Romans 5:1-11. Use this passage to refresh your understanding of the holy purpose of waiting in the dark. Ask God to help you live according to truth this week.