Can suffering and confidence in God go hand in hand?
“But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.” (Psalm 102:12)
In a previous blog post we looked at the powerful honesty of the Psalms in speaking to God and speaking about our situation. What is surprising about the psalms is that they can be honest about struggles and confidence about God’s character at the same time.
Psalm 102 is a terrific example of this. The first 11 verses are very honest as the psalmist pours our their troubles to God. All seems very bleak and dark. But then the psalm turns in verse 12 to a note of confidence: “But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.”
That confidence continues through the psalm, even as the writer returns to recount more of their struggles. This might seem strange to us. I know I often think I ought to feel just one way: I feel sad, or I feel confident; I feel happy, or I have doubts; I feel anxious or I believe.
Yet the psalms see no contradiction in struggles and confidence sitting side by side. It is quite possible to be overwhelmed by life and still have belief in God and his character. We may not understand everything but we can still say “I believe”.
You often see this profound mixture when a Christian is facing death. They might be going through a horrible illness, yet they are still able to say “I believe in Jesus and I know that he loves and cares for me.” The might have profound struggles, but they can also have profound confidence. They could be in paid yet have a deep and unshaken sense of peace.
We don’t need to wait until the end of our lives to live with this mixture of honesty and belief. Psalms like Psalm 102 encourage us to live like this now: be honest about the difficulties of life (especially with God) but also hold on to God as our unshakable confidence in the times of trouble. We might see that as something of a paradox but the psalms see no contradiction at all.
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