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How could a loving God allow us to suffer?

Psalm 77 is a song of lament and struggle. It is also a Psalm of resolve, to remember the goodness of God in the middle of suffering and in the middle of hard questions. It is a Psalm that wrestles with the biggest question we ask as humans—how could a loving God allow us to suffer?

The author of this Psalm is trying to come to terms with the God he has always known. He is struggling with the fact, that from his perspective, his present circumstances don’t line up with the God, who has always been good, gracious, and caring with him and with the nation of Israel.

Israel’s name literally means “wrestles with God.”

The Israelites had seen God’s power, might, and faithfulness. That’s why the Psalmist says, “I will appeal to the years of the right hand of the Most High” (v. 10), and “I will remember your wonders of old” (v. 11). Remembering the truth of God is a response to the wrestling and the questions we see in verses 7 through 9.

I think we can learn something significant from the Psalmist here. Maybe this kind of wrestling is exactly what it means to be God’s people.

Maybe to struggle and wrestle with God’s goodness is what following God is all about, at least on this side of heaven.

Here are three ways we can take action in the face of the suffering we all experience in our lives:

ONE // Rehearse the truth of God CONSISTENTLY. //

It takes consistency to trust. It is not a one-time decision. It is hundreds of small decisions over time, and it takes regular practice. But practice can make us like the Psalmist, who knew what to believe in the middle of your suffering whatever, it might be.

TWO // Remember: As Much as we want to be relieved from our suffering, we want to know that we do not suffer alone. //

We are not meant to suffer alone. God looked upon the suffering of all people, and he wanted to suffer alongside us. So he sent Jesus. We have the opportunity to represent Christ to others when we enter into their pain and suffer alongside them.

THREE // Do not allow your suffering to pass until you can see Jesus in it. //

I am convinced that we cannot fully know who God is and what he is like except through trust-filled suffering. This is how we can know Jesus—that he came to suffer for us and to acquaint himself with our pain. Even today He is longing to be present to us in all that we suffer, until the day He returns.

Psalm 34 promises that God is near to the broken-hearted. We have the opportunity to be like Jacob (Genesis 32), who wrestled with God and would not let him go, until we receive his blessing. For us, as we suffer and wrestle with God, our blessing is to see and know Jesus Christ and how he suffers with us.

Kevin Christopher

Director of Missional Worship


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