If you’ve experienced suffering, I imagine people said some really helpful things to you—and some really unhelpful things. They mean well, but their words can come out in awkward, sometimes even hurtful, ways. I could tell you stories of strange things people said to me when I was suffering. But the most helpful things people said were true things. True things about my circumstances, like, “This is hard,” “I’m so sorry you’re experiencing these struggles,” and “Of course you feel scared, confused, and angry.”
But they also spoke true words of comfort and hope. Words like, “God is with you in this,” “God’s love is everlasting,” and “God invites you to come to him in your suffering.” I needed reminders of these promises because when the darkness presses in, it’s difficult to see the light. When suffering blinds us to the truth, we need others to speak it for us and over us and point us to hope.
What if the Truth Stings?
Sometimes, though, the truth doesn’t feel helpful. When we’re reeling from a tragedy, we may struggle to accept God’s sanctifying purposes in our suffering (Rom. 5:3–5). Hearing someone say, “God works all things together for good,” when you’re staring at the shattered pieces of a broken relationship, battling a flare-up of your chronic illness, or floundering through unemployment might feel like a wound rather than a balm.
When the truth stings, we’re tempted to avoid it altogether. We’d rather find something to soothe our pain. So we turn to food, alcohol, entertainment, sex, retail therapy—anything that offers instantaneous relief. The relief these escapes offer is fleeting. Eventually the pleasure fades, the stuff erodes, and our souls feel the sting of unfair suffering once again.
If we know the truth of God’s Word might prick and prod us in seasons of suffering, how can we remain in Scripture and hold on to hope?
God’s Word Sings Forever
I once heard someone say that in order to fully understand God’s love for us—even in suffering—we must experience both the sting and the sing of Scripture. God’s Word contains both. Creation sings of God’s beautiful design to fashion us in his image and for his glory, to enjoy fellowship with him forever (Gen. 1:26–27). Yet because of our rebellion against God, we live as sufferers in a broken world (Gen. 3:16–19). When the sting of death descends upon the garden, hope seems lost.
But the song does not end here. Almost instantly, God promises deliverance and we discover all is not lost (Gen. 3:15). Throughout the remainder of the Bible, a beautiful story of redemption unfolds: God pursues sinful, suffering people with the promise of his love, care, and eternal presence. Eventually, this story of redemption culminates in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our Deliverer, who lives and reigns forever (Col. 1:13–19).
Jesus took the ultimate sting of sin in order that we might experience the glorious song of eternity with him. Because the gospel is the resounding melody of Scripture, we can embrace every part of God’s Word by faith.
As we allow Scripture to sing for us and over us, we can receive the tender comfort and sure hope God’s Word provides.
Let Scripture Sing For You
An entire book of the Bible is a collection of songs written specifically for God’s people to sing. The book of Psalms was used as part of worship in the temple in Jerusalem, and many of the Israelites memorized these songs to utilize as prayers of worship, thanksgiving, intercession, and lament. Not only is every human emotion represented in the book of Psalms—they are permitted. Oftentimes, those who penned the psalms wrote about their suffering, from their suffering, and because of their suffering. When you’re incapable of coherent thoughts or unsure if it’s appropriate to be honest with the Lord, Scripture invites you to come. Name your fears, anger, disappointment, bitterness, and doubt through song.
I have found Psalm 42, Psalm 77, and Psalm 130 especially helpful in seasons of suffering. My journals are filled with echoes of these refrains as I pour out my heart to the Lord. Jesus himself used God’s Word when he suffered. In the face of temptation, Jesus quoted, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). When suffering on the cross, Jesus cried out words from Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1; Matt. 27:46).
Allow the songs of fellow sufferers to sing for you.
Let Scripture Sing Over You
Suffering can weaken us, body, mind, and soul. And when it does, one of the most helpful ways to remain in God’s Word is to saturate ourselves in the promises of God’s Word. Because Scripture is one big story of redemption, we can find songs of hope in every passage. I often listen to Romans 8 while jogging or walking through my neighborhood. Reminders of the power of the resurrection (Rom. 8:11), future glory (Rom. 8:18), the Spirit’s intercession for us (Rom. 8:26–27), and the sure hope of heaven (Rom. 8:37–39) help to comfort my soul when life feels overly burdensome.
During a recent season of suffering, I decided to stick to my regular habit of Bible reading. While plodding through my reading plan, a story about God’s promise to King David (in 1 Chronicles of all places) infused me with hope.
Scripture sings over us on every page.
Sister, one day, our suffering will cease. But the song will go on. For we will sing a new song, a song of redemption in the presence of the One who is worthy of all praise. May we hold on to hope until that day comes, and may we allow the songs of Scripture to soothe our suffering souls.
Meet the Author
Lauren Washer is passionate about helping women to know and love God more through a deeper understanding of the Bible. She teaches the Bible and serves on the women’s ministry team at her local church. She and her husband, Bradley, live with their six children in Norfolk, VA. You can connect with her through her monthly newsletter, Hidden Treasure, or on Instagram.