When we are experiencing suffering or trials, the suffering itself is often not the cause of our pain. The cause of our pain may be more related to our perspective of that suffering. It is a question of size. When we experience a setback or tragedy it becomes far too easy for our problem to balloon to an irrational size, overwhelming everything else in our lives. As our problem grows in size, we shrink, and feel overpowered by it. In this state, the comforting words of a friend to “stand firm” are typically received with thanks, but are of little practical use. In this state of despair what we need is not necessarily a power to remove the suffering, but something powerful enough to restructure our perspective. What we need in these moments is something bigger than our suffering.
For many, the primary purpose of the Bible is comfort in times of suffering and helpful hints in times of confusion. This approach to the word of God is not only mistaken, but is a travesty when one understands the why we were given the Bible. This misuse of the word of God is the equivalent of using a brand-new Porsche to haul firewood. The purpose of the word of God is not to comfort us or instruct us. The purpose of the word of God is to define us. The word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, is that very thing that can restructure our perspective, providing us the hope and strength we require in order to persevere through and over our suffering. The word of God is big. It is not only big in the sense that God is big and if he is in control then we can have nothing to fear. It is big in that from the beginning God has included us, along with billions of others, in his family, the family he has protected with his life. The word of God not only gives us a starting point that validates the desires of our heart and the longings of our souls, it gives us the way that so many have walked before us— and prevailed. The word of God is not stories and lessons to learn from. The word of God is our story. It is our story because it is his, and he made us. The word of God gives us hope in standing firm that goes beyond good advice. It grants us the perspective of creation and transformation, which began with God and is continually brought about by God. In the face of the suffering of this world, the magnitude of God and our place alongside him has the ability to reduce any and all trials we face. If God is for us, then who can be against us? If God is with us, what problem can ever overwhelm us?