Comfort in my suffering

“Your heavenly Father knows…”

When Jesus Christ speaks to his disciples about the cares of life, he uses a phrase of four significant words:

“Your heavenly Father knows…” (Matthew 6:32 and Luke 12:30).

Each of these four words is wonderfully comforting. (Read this phrase four times, each time shifting the emphasis to another word):
That God knows already means so much. God knows everything, he knows our fears and feelings, our pain and sorrows; he sees where others cannot see. He knows me intimately (cf. Psalm 139). It is good to know that he knows!

God who knows is here referred to as Father. This word shows towards love and care – a loving father has compassion and takes care. In Matthew 6:26 we read:

“your Father in heaven takes care…” and “he feeds…’

But God is more than a good earthly father, he is a heavenly Father who can do much more than we can ever imagine or express in words. He is the Almighty, the heavenly Father, the All-Powerful.

Moreover, Jesus does not merely speak of ‘the’ Father. No, he speaks of ‘your’ Father. Through God’s love he has become one with us. The heavenly Father who knows is our Father, yours and mine. So, we can know that our Father is omniscient and almighty, but he also wants to do good unto us, because he is our Father.

So,

when nothing makes sense anymore, when I am hurt, confused, feeling helpless and frustrated, God knows about it. And it is exactly this knowledge that gives us new hope and brings us true comfort.

when I have to say goodbye, and struggle to understand the Lord’s ways, he knows about it. He understands. I may come with my loss and questions to him to find refuge (cf. Psalm 91). God himself will fill the emptiness in my life with the Father’s loving presence, he will give me back the life force of the risen Christ (2 Corinthians 4:7-10) and I will be a new creation through his Spirit (Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16–17).

when I struggle to come to terms with my grief, the Lord knows that no human language can describe my pain in words. Maybe I am still hurting too much to take long strides on the path of inner healing. He knows it when I can only groan in pain and sends his Spirit to pray for me (Romans 8:22 & 26-27).

the Lord knows when I weep. He knows tears. He knows that tears are the expression of our deepest pain. This is after all how he created us. So Jesus too had wept on many occasions (John 11:35, Luke 19:41). In the garden of Gethsemane his anxiety plunged him into the deepest depths (Matt 26:37), for us. Our tears are listed on his scroll and the anguish and troubles he suffered in Gethsemane will finally wipe every tear from our eyes (Psalm 56:8, Revelation 21:4).

when I feel fragile and broken, when I am wounded and deeply aware of my shortcomings, my Father knows my weaknesses and remembers I am but flesh (Psalm 78:38-39). Yet it is during times of weakness that I will experience how God’s power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). By the wounds of Christ we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

when I am rebellious, when I am troubled by questions, my Father knows this. This is why he holds me close like a mother her child until I find peace – even when I do not yet understand (Psalm 131).

when I struggle with a past that threatens to overshadow my present and future, the Father knows it. He knows that I cannot change the past. But I also do not have to try to do it. Because he can work for my good – even in the very bad things from the past (Romans 8:28).

when I fear for the future and worry about the day of tomorrow, God knows about it. I can cast all my anxiety on him (1 Pet 5:7). He will give me the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). More than that, the God of peace will be with me (Philippians 4:9).

when I am weary and tired, longing for rest, the Father knows about my burden. This is why his Son invites the weary and burdened: “Come to me…” (Isaiah 55, Matthew 11:28-30).

when I feel lonely and without help, the Lord knows it. Jesus was himself forsaken by God (Matthew 27:46), so that we would never again be so alone. This is why he always sends fellow Christians to support one another, to touch each other’s lives, to carry one another’s burden (Galatians 6:2), and also to intercede for others through prayer (Ephesians 3:14-21).

when I lose all hope, when I stand before the last, great enemy – death – the Triune God knows about it. The Father so loved us that he gave us his Son (John 3:16), to die for us and to rise again, ascend to heaven and to intercede for us before the Father. This is why he sent us the Holy Spirit, the great Comforter, to give us the gifts of faith, hope and love and this Spirit changes our grief to joy (John 16).

More than conquerors…

Because God knows we, too, can know without doubt:

“God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39).

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