I have heard it said before that “when things are going well we talk about God, but when things are tough we talk to Him.” I would say this is abundantly accurate.
C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain says “We can ignore pleasure, but pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
In reflecting on my own season of trials, suffering, difficulty, and a slew of circumstances not working out the way I thought they would, I was brought to Genesis 50:20 where Joseph says “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” For me, I know that Satan would want nothing more than for me to functionally “curse God and die” (as it is said in the book of Job) but I know that God is working something greater out, and because of that I can count this present suffering as joy–knowing that I am growing more aware and secure in Christ because of it (see James 1:2-4).
Besides, our God is in the business of turning defeat into victory.
We see this almost entirely throughout the Bible, don’t we? We see this in Genesis with Abraham and Isaac and with the story of Joseph’s abandonment by his brothers; we see this with Moses and the Israelites in Egypt, being delivered from Pharaoh, across the Red Sea, in the wilderness, etc.; in countless battles and struggles in the Old Testament; and most significantly we see this with Jesus on the cross (and ultimately His resurrection, ascension, and promised return)!
It is Truth like this that causes David’s cup to overflow in Psalm 23 while still in the valley. His circumstance has not changed, yet his disposition has been eternally altered.
Tim Keller puts it extremely well when he says “The Christian faith has a hope that overwhelms grief. This hope doesn’t get rid of the grief or pain but sweetens and shifts it.”
Again we say, ‘what Satan intended for evil, God (rightly) redirects for good.’
This is why the author of Hebrews can say “we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” (Hebrews 10:39)
This truth grows in us a trust and a confidence otherwise unattainable. This truth is what propels Paul in Romans 8 to say “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (v.31)
This is why we can echo with 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “(we do not) grieve as others do who have no hope” and with numerous Psalms that proclaim “God is doing all of this so that He alone may be magnified! It is for HIS namesake and HIS glory that He does it!”
With all this in mind a particular quote yields a helpful context: “If we would talk less and pray more things would be better than they are in the world; at least we should be better enabled to bear them.” ~ John Owen.
You see, it is seasons like these that force our eyes off of ourselves and exclusively to Christ. He is the One we turn to; in Him (alone!) we trust, for He is trustworthy. His very self is declared “Faithful” and “True” (Revelation 19:11) and many verses echo the truth proclaimed in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 that says if God promises: “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”
This is a hope that overwhelms grief.