Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ESV 1 Peter 4:19
On various levels, so many of my friends suffer. Several friends have chronic pain. Another friend has a newborn that won’t stop crying. Other friends are going through a divorce. Others have lost loved ones this year. In the midst of suffering, what are we to do? How should our spiritual formation shape us during these times of struggle?
Peter tells us to do two things in the midst of suffering. First, we are to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator. This brings encouragement on so many levels. Remember, only our souls are eternal, so while our bodies may be failing through chronic illness, and our emotions may be overwhelmed by our suffering, God cares about our soul, and He will restore it. Note our Creator is faithful…He will not leave us in the midst of our suffering. He also created us and knows exactly how to strengthen us in times of suffering. Secondly remember while suffering makes life hard, it does not allow us to stop doing the things God has called us to. We must still parent, work, engage our spouse, and minister to others in the midst of our suffering. For some of us this is natural–we power through everything in life (and we need to learn to entrust our souls to God). Others of us find suffering overwhelming and find ourselves shirking our responsibilities and calling. Suffering is tough, but God will enable us to do good in the midst of our struggle.
As I reflect on my own suffering, I generally do one or the other, but not both. Sometimes I entrust my soul to God and wait for Him to work. In the process, I stop doing good because I’m overwhelmed by my situation. At other times, I try to power through my suffering by continuing to do good–and forgetting to entrust my soul to God. Perhaps you struggle with this balance as well. Suffering does not give us an excuse to stop doing good. Neither does it call us to do it alone. We must entrust our souls to our faithful Creator while simultaneously continuing to fulfill the work our Creator called us to. May you be strengthened in both of these as you struggle in your suffering.