Give Thanks in Sorrow and in Suffering
Open Your Bible
Psalm 31:7-24, Isaiah 35:9-10, Romans 15:13, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:12-19
BY Erin Davis
I live in the heart of Missouri wine country. We’re not quite Napa Valley, but we do have grape vineyards as far as the eye can see. Each year, at our Grape and Fall Festival, we roll up our pant legs and step into giant vats of grapes, just like in my favorite episode of I Love Lucy. As the grape pulp squishes between our toes, juice runs out of spigots to be made into wine. It’s a process I enjoy during our annual town festival but struggle to embrace the rest of the year.
Life hands us plenty of sour grapes doesn’t it? I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling perpetually squeezed and squashed. We can all empathize with the psalmist who wrote,
Be gracious to me, LORD,
because I am in distress;
my eyes are worn out from frustration—
my whole being as well.
Indeed, my life is consumed with grief
and my years with groaning;
my strength has failed
because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
And yet God calls us to both face suffering and “overflow with hope” (Romans 15:13)—to “consider it a great joy” (James 1:2). Instead of pouting, wilting, or wailing in the face of sorrow, God asks us to “rejoice” (1Peter 4:13).
How can this be? Because He is already distilling our sour grapes into new wine. Because He promises to “satisfy the thirsty…and weak” and replenish them (Jeremiah 31:25). Redemption was purchased at the cross and will be finished when Christ returns for us. On that day, we will gather together for the marriage supper of the Lamb and raise our glasses to the God who has redeemed our souls and our suffering.
As we await that day, we can rejoice and be glad because God’s love is faithful. We can trust Him because He has seen our affliction and knows the troubles of our souls, and His response to our suffering is to offer us freedom that can only be found in Him (Psalm 31:7–8). Sure, we can drop our heads and keep staring at the hurt. But we can also choose to respond with thanksgiving, knowing that every sorrow is something God has already started to transform.