“Those who wait for Me with hope will not be put to shame.”
Isaiah 49:23c NLV
We love stories of overcomers. We invite testimonies that end in victory.
We applaud members of the Body who have a “before” and “after” tale of how Jesus plus willpower took them from the dust of defeat to the pinnacle of spiritual success.
But we hide the strugglers and stragglers in the back pews.
If suffering lingers long, whether or not it is in the hands of the one who suffers to do anything about it, we cringe and pull back and hope they go away.
We don’t offer them the pulpit or the Sunday School hour to speak of how Christ continues to be the hope to which they cling.
Because deep down, we think there must be something wrong with them, something wrong with their brand or quality or strength of faith. If they only got it “right”, they too, would have the victory.
We would rather shush the suffering than face the tension between God’s goodness and His sovereignty.
We shame them to silence by implying they have nothing to share until they are able to wrap their story with a perfect spiritual bow.
We add insult to injury when their need for help exceeds the allotted three weeks or six months or whatever arbitrary deadline we impose on the prayer list and our patience.
But maybe what God has for me and others who suffer long is not a victorious tag line that can be slapped on a photo or shared on social media.
Maybe it’s only in the continued press of suffering that God reveals Himself in ways the non-suffering never see.
Maybe a dash to declare victory is actually rushing past what God has for us in deep pain and ongoing struggle.
Maybe waiting in hopeful expectation for what God is doing and will do in me and through me IS the victory.
We wait for Yahweh;
He is our help and shield.
For our hearts rejoice in Him
because we trust in His holy name.
May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh,
for we put our hope in You.
Psalm 33:20-22 HCSB