Life is Hard and Hope is Sure

Manna for Melancholy Devotional
Christian maturity is not measured by the absence or avoidance of sorrow, but the engagement of God in the midst of it.
The Scriptures give us language for sorrow and hope for tomorrow. They are honest about both the hard realities of life and the hope that we have in Christ—perhaps more honest than we care to admit, sometimes.

In Christ, life is hard and hope is sure. Yet, hard cannot be avoided through hope, just as hope cannot be extinguished by hard. The tension between present pain and God's promise is undeniable, and the Scriptures do not presume to ignore it.

Instead, the Bible assures us that God isn't surprised by our experiences of sadness. His heart throbs for those who find themselves crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). His tender care includes the gift of words to speak when we cannot string them together for ourselves.

By this, we are encouraged even in the midst of despair. Our sorrow is fully seen and known by Him, and He cares deeply about it (1 Peter 5:7). Even our groans do not fall on deaf Ears (Romans 8:26). More than that, He is fully committed to comforting us right where we lie. The Lord draws near, crouches down, and bears us up (Psalm 68:19).

Yes, the Scriptures are flooded with consolations precisely because God knew how much we would need them, minute by minute, hour by hour. Our Father knows what we frequently forget: we are dependent upon him for all things.

Indeed, something strange is not happening when we experience sorrow—in this world it is sure to come (1 Peter 4:12). Even so, we are told to take heart because our Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). We will have sorrow; we can take heart. Christian maturity is not measured by the absence or avoidance of sorrow, but the engagement of God in the midst of it.
How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle in my soul, with sorrow in my heart each day? How long will my enemy dominate me? Consider me and respond, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death, lest my enemy say, '"I have overcome him," and my foes rejoice when I fall. But I have trusted in Your loving devotion; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me.
Psalm 13
Reflection Questions:
1.) In John 16:33, Jesus tells his disciples, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." How does this statement shape our expectations about life lived this side of eternity?
2.) Jesus continues in John 16:33, "But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” What does taking heart look like for you today?
3.) Why is Jesus Christ worthy of to be trusted and hoped in, despite what you see or feel?
4.) Practice writing a prayer of lament of your own using Psalm 13 as a model.