Where is God in Suffering? Day 6

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT

Note from the Christian Basics Bible

Confidence—the assurance we can do or say something—is a valuable asset. When we know we have the ability or resources to do a task, or that right is on our side, we can face the toughest challenges. Of course, some of us are naturally more confident than others; and our confidence can be challenged when we encounter someone who is just as confident as us but takes a different viewpoint.

Hebrews, however, speaks of an entirely different kind of confidence, one that isn’t based on our abilities and knowledge—which will ultimately fail in some situation or other—but rather, one that is based on Christ alone. Such confidence means we can approach God boldly (Hebrews 4:16)—yes, boldly! For it is not dependent on us—our efforts or goodness—but on Christ our great High Priest alone (4:14-15), who not only acted as our priest but who also offered himself as a perfect sacrifice for us (9:11-14, 24-28).

It was through this sacrifice that he removed every trace of sin from us, thus cleansing our conscience (9:14) and removing any barrier to our being able to enter God’s presence and know him as our friend. Because of Christ, God is now utterly approachable (10:19-22).

Take a look inside the Christian Basics Bible

Where Is God In Suffering? Day 5

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” Romans 8:15-30, NLT

Notes from the Wayfinding Bible

Paul certainly doesn’t hold back on the topic of sin and its consequences, but he doesn’t leave the Romans to despair over their sinfulness either. He reminds them that, through Christ, God has dealt decisively with sin. Paul brings them to a point of celebration by focusing on the joy that comes with faith and the peace that comes with life in the Holy Spirit.

When Paul talks about our sinful nature, he is referring to the inclination of our natural desires toward sin. All humans are born with a sinful nature. God, however, did not create people this way. He created them perfect, without sin; but sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God. Humans are sinful and God is perfect; we need Jesus to make us sinless again in God’s eyes.

Paul’s message to the Romans contains one of the most comforting passages in the Bible. He clearly states, in different ways, that nothing can separate us from God’s love. He gives us comfort and assurance that no matter what we do, where we go, or what happens to us, absolutely nothing will come between us and God’s love for us. We are super glued to God, and nothing can rip us out of his loving arms.

Look inside the Wayfinding Bible

Where is God In Suffering: Day 4

“’In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.’

Some of the disciples asked each other, ‘What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? And what does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand.’

Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

‘I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”

Then his disciples said, ‘At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.’

Jesus asked, ‘Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:16-33, NLT

Note from the Every Man’s Bible

In this world, we will encounter “many trials and sorrows.” Some of these difficulties are inevitable and beyond our control. These can be endured with God’s help. On the other hand, some of our suffering is self- inflicted and can be avoided.

In such situations, God still offers us peace as we muster the courage to make needed changes in our lives. God’s forgiveness and loving acceptance can give us peace as we face our trials and sorrows, even when the pain we face is ultimately our own fault. He has the power to lead us down the path of life; he has already overcome all the obstacles that stand in our way.

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Where Is God In Suffering? Day 3

“This is what the Lord says:

‘At just the right time, I will respond to you.
On the day of salvation I will help you.
I will protect you and give you to the people
as my covenant with them.
Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel
and assign it to its own people again.

I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’
and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’
They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.

They will neither hunger nor thirst.
The searing sun will not reach them anymore.
For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;
he will lead them beside cool waters.

And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.
The highways will be raised above the valleys.
See, my people will return from far away,
from lands to the north and west,
and from as far south as Egypt.’

Sing for joy, O heavens!
Rejoice, O earth!
Burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” Isaiah 49:8-13, NLT

Note from the Africa Study Bible

This passage described the time when the Jewish exiles were in a hopeless situation in Babylon. Their future seemed very dark with no hope of returning to their homeland. Isaiah prophesied that God would intervene in much the same way he did when he brought them out of Egypt. Once again they would return to their own land. Isaiah described a Servant through whom God would fulfil his promises to Israel (Isaiah 49:5). What is most striking in Isaiah’s prophecy is this Servant—Jesus—would not only restore Israel, but also the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). This was in fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that “all the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

In Christ, we see the love of God for all peoples and his plan to save people from all nations. Christ tells his followers to fulfil his plan by making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18). All Christians—not only missionaries or pastors or deacons—are part of bringing salvation to the nations. God’s Servant gives freedom to the prisoners, brings light to people in darkness, restores all of God’s people, and restores all of God’s creation.

We are called to be part of that effort. The world may seem hopeless, but the fact that Christians are in this broken world means that God is still at work. Let us regularly join with other Christians to pray for people of other nations who need physical and spiritual salvation.

Look inside the Africa Study Bible

Where Is God In Suffering? Day 2

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?

Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.

Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.

They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!

Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,

‘Is this the one who relies on the Lord?
Then let the Lord save him!

If the Lord loves him so much,
let the Lord rescue him!’

Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb
and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.

I was thrust into your arms at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.

Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.

My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!

Like lions they open their jaws against me,
roaring and tearing into their prey.

My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
melting within me.

My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.

My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.

I can count all my bones.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.

They divide my garments among themselves
and throw dice for my clothing.

O Lord, do not stay far away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!

Save me from the sword;
spare my precious life from these dogs.

Snatch me from the lion’s jaws
and from the horns of these wild oxen.

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.

Praise the Lord, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.

I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.

The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the Lord will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.

The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him.
All the families of the nations will bow down before him.

For royal power belongs to the Lord.
He rules all the nations.

Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Bow before him, all who are mortal,
all whose lives will end as dust.

Our children will also serve him.
Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.

His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born.
They will hear about everything he has done.” Psalm 22, NLT

Note from the New Believer’s Bible

Psalm 22 is one of the most dramatic scriptural descriptions of what happened when Jesus died on the cross. What makes this so amazing is that it was written a thousand years before the Crucifixion took place.

The Medes, Persians, and Assyrians devised this horrible form of death, spreading it throughout the East. The Romans borrowed it from the Phoenicians and then took it to another level. They crucified thousands of people.

And yet Psalm 22 reads as a vivid eyewitness account of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is one of the most amazing messianic prophecies anywhere in Scripture. Jesus quoted directly from it as he hung on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

Look inside the New Believer’s Bible

Where is God in Suffering? Day 1

“Elihu continued speaking: ‘Let me go on, and I will show you the truth.

For I have not finished defending God!
I will present profound arguments
for the righteousness of my Creator.
I am telling you nothing but the truth,
for I am a man of great knowledge.

‘God is mighty, but he does not despise anyone!
He is mighty in both power and understanding.
He does not let the wicked live
but gives justice to the afflicted.
He never takes his eyes off the innocent,
but he sets them on thrones with kings
and exalts them forever.
If they are bound in chains
and caught up in a web of trouble,
he shows them the reason.
He shows them their sins of pride.
He gets their attention
and commands that they turn from evil.

‘If they listen and obey God,
they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives.
All their years will be pleasant.
But if they refuse to listen to him,
they will cross over the river of death,
dying from lack of understanding.
For the godless are full of resentment.
Even when he punishes them,
they refuse to cry out to him for help.
They die when they are young,
after wasting their lives in immoral living.
But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer.
For he gets their attention through adversity.

‘God is leading you away from danger, Job,
to a place free from distress.
He is setting your table with the best food.
But you are obsessed with whether the godless will be judged.
Don’t worry, judgment and justice will be upheld.
But watch out, or you may be seduced by wealth.
Don’t let yourself be bribed into sin.
Could all your wealth
or all your mighty efforts
keep you from distress?
Do not long for the cover of night,
for that is when people will be destroyed.
Be on guard! Turn back from evil,
for God sent this suffering
to keep you from a life of evil.'”

Note from the Beyond Suffering Bible


Job’s suffering did not prove that Job was wicked or sinful, but it did introduce a central issue: During times of suffering and disability, when anger and doubt arise that lead to accusations against God’s goodness, God is at work in his own ways to shape and refine his people. We need to be attentive to what God is—and isn’t—saying to us, and not let our pride or worldly assumptions obscure his purposes and timing in our lives.

Take a look inside the Beyond Suffering Bible

Sheltering in Place: Encouragement for Special Needs Families

by Steve Bundy, Senior VP of the Christian Institute on Disability

“Please, quiet down, I’m on a call!” I said through gritted teeth. Even though I tried to exude calmness in my voice, in reality, I was like a duck swimming in water, calm on top, but furiously paddling just beneath the surface. My mind churned as I felt anxiety and pressure building in my attempt to balance working remotely while sheltering in place with my family. During this season of social-distancing, many can likely relate to the stress of trying to work from home with children who have their own pent-up frustrations as they attempt their new online education. Add to that no outside activities, no favorite shopping malls and no restaurants, and the “cabin fever” sets in.

When you’re a family like mine that has a child with special needs, it can be like adding rocket fuel to a fire. We are usually prepared for challenges surrounding vacations and holidays when routines are lost, but when weeks turn into months with no school, no therapies and no breaks—it can easily turn into no patience. Exhaustion and despondency can quickly develop when we as parents are giving constant attention to our child’s needs throughout the day with little to no relief. And, let’s not forget the challenges our children face. Many, like my son, cannot comprehend the reason for sudden school closures and changes to his normal routine. As a result, the occasional outburst is evolving into frequent full meltdowns.

The truth is that these are uncertain and unprecedented times for everyone. But I find peace in knowing that the Word of God transcends all time and circumstances. Scripture is indeed timeless, and we can apply it to our lives—even during a global pandemic. In Psalm 91, the psalmist reminds us that during the most trying times, God is indeed our “shelter, refuge and place of safety.” It’s believed that Moses wrote this psalm during the 40-year period of the Israelites’ wandering through the wilderness. It was a time, as the psalmist indicates, of “disease, terror and disaster.” If ever the people of God needed a refuge, it was during the wandering years. It is a psalm of comfort and confidence in the Almighty who provides protection and security even in the most uncertain and fearful times of life. The promise remains, “For those who live in the shelter of the Most High, will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

If you identify with any of the challenges or frustrations I shared, I encourage you to read Psalm 91 aloud with your family. Discuss God’s promises and declare that he is your refuge! Pray and have an honest (and age appropriate) discussion about your family’s worries, anxieties and fears. As you adjust to this season of sheltering in place at home, here are a few additional tips that may assist you in not just surviving these times, but thriving in them:

  • Spend a little extra time in your devotions. Whenever sports teams are disrupted and have setbacks, the head coach usually returns to the basics…the fundamentals that built the team in the first place. This is not a time to go “AWOL” on spiritual disciplines—press into the things of God. What is he teaching you? How is this season stretching your faith? If you are looking for a good daily devotion, check out Shelter in Place with Joni on the YouVersion Bible App https://www.bible.com/ or log onto Joni and Friends to access our online bible study www.joniandfriends.org/bible-reading-plans.
  • Create a new routine and try to stick to it. There will need to be some flexibility relative to everyone’s needs, but a routine will help you and your family feel a sense of “normalcy,” decrease frustration and help with expectations. For special needs children, routine often helps decrease behaviors because they begin to get a sense of what is coming next.
  • Celebrate the little accomplishments. Set small goals and simple action steps to get them done. All of us have had to put activities, events and trips on hold for this season. Completing small goals, as simple as they may seem, can give you a sense of victory and progress in your day, week and month. Reward yourself, your spouse or your children for their accomplishments.
  • Reach out and connect to your church, Sunday school class or community group. Connecting virtually to others accomplishes a couple things. First, it helps prevent you from isolating and becoming emotionally discouraged. Sharing your experience with others can facilitate a sense of release and refreshment, reminding you that you’re not alone and that others know and understand what you are going through. Scripture reminds us to pray for one another all around the world that we would stand against the discouraging attacks of the devil who wants to devour us (1 Peter 5:8-9). Secondly, it provides you with an opportunity to minister to others. Taking your eyes off of your own problems and assisting others is often the best recipe for shaking off discouragement and replacing it with joy.
  • Similarly, stay connected to your child’s school and to local social services. Schools are making teachers, staff and therapists available for consultations and providing virtual instruction. This can assist in keeping your child from boredom and can also help with routine. Likewise, reach out to the Social Services Agency in your community to find out what resources are available to your family. Depending on your level of comfort, additional caregiving or respite hours may be available. If you do welcome caregivers or respite staff into your home, be sure they are following CDC recommended COVID-19 protocols.
  • Finally, live with grace. Lots of grace! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Remember, every family member is living with adjustments, fear and disappointments. Work to accommodate one another’s needs, space and schedule. This storm will pass and on the other side you want to look back with gratitude for the grace you gave, not regret for unchecked emotions. As you receive the grace of God in your time of need, pass that along to those you love most!

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God’s Healing Hand Day 6

“Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.” Acts 3:1-11, NLT

Notes from the Wayfinding Bible

Throughout the big story God has revealed his power through miracles. He showed his control over nature through the ten plagues in Egypt and by dividing the waters of the Red Sea. He provided food and water for his people while they wandered in the wilderness. He displayed his power through the Old Testament prophets and, most clearly, in his Son Jesus. Now that same power is with the apostles. The apostle Peter, one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples, continues the tradition of performing miracles, displaying God’s power in Christ’s name. He then boldly preaches in the Temple about Jesus’ life and death.

In Jewish society, imperfection of any kind made a person an outcast. In the Old Testament, God commanded his people to sacrifice only animals that “have no defect of any kind” (Leviticus 22:21). God also required priests to be without blemish. God’s law held other people to a high standard as well, but over the centuries Jewish culture had generalized these rules in a was that was harsh and unrealistic. A person had to be practically perfect to be part of the Jewish community. Peter’s healing was a great gift. It restored this man physically and socially.

Peter and John had been empowered by the Holy Spirit and were energized to see God working through them to spread the Good News. God’s power flowed through them so that Peter even healed a lame man in the name of Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful example of how God can do more than we can ask or imagine. The beggar was merely hoping for a coin or two to help him survive one more day. The possibility of being whole again and walking out of the Temple didn’t even enter his mind. But it happened. God can, will, and does do what we perceive as impossible.

Look inside the Wayfinding Bible

God’s Healing Hand Day 5

“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. ‘Rabbi,’ his disciples asked him, ‘why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’

‘It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,’ Jesus answered. ‘This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.’

Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said he was, and others said, ‘No, he just looks like him!’

But the beggar kept saying, ‘Yes, I am the same one!’

They asked, ‘Who healed you? What happened?’

He told them, ‘The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!’

Note from the Boys Life Application Study Bible

A common belief in Jewish culture was that hardships were punishments for sins. But through the healing of the man born blind, Jesus revealed
that some hardships were allowed as a means to glorify God.

We live in a world where good behavior is not always rewarded and bad behavior is not always punished; therefore, innocent people sometimes suffer. Regardless of the reasons for our suffering. Jesus has the power to help us deal with it.

When hard times come, instead of asking, “Why did this happen to me?” or “What did I do wrong?” consider asking God to strengthen you and offer you a deeper perspective on what’s at stake.

Look inside the Boys Life Application Study Bible

God’s Hand of Healing Day 4

“Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.

Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, ‘Ephphatha,’ which means, ‘Be opened!’ Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!

Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. They were completely amazed and said again and again, ‘Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.'” Mark 7:31-37, NLT

Notes from the Illustrated Study Bible

This miracle is very similar in order and vocabulary to the healing of the blind man in 8:22-26. Healing miracles in the Gospels follow a similar pattern—the constant telling and retelling of similar stories probably standardized their form and wording.

This healing miracle includes a change of scene. Although some interpret the next miracle as occurring in the Gentile world (Sidon or Decapolis), it probably took place after Jesus returned to the Sea of Galilee. The next incident takes place there (8:10) without a change of scene.

Jesus also used saliva in a healing at Mark 8:23, where he spit on a man’s eyes in curing his blindness. The medicinal use of saliva in ancient times is well documented.

Since Jesus was looking up to heaven when he sighed, his sigh is probably best understood as a prayerful gesture. Ephphatha is an Aramaic term that Mark translates for his readers (see also 3:17; 5:41; 14:36; 15:34). These are not magical formulas or incantations; Mark is simply recounting some of the original words Jesus spoke. Matthew and Luke do not seem to have attributed any special significance to the Aramaic words of Jesus, since they did not include them in their Gospels.

Despite his desire to avoid attention, Jesus’ greatness shone too brightly—his person, his teaching, and his ability to heal inspired awe, and he could not be hidden.

Look inside the Illustrated Study Bible