I hope this comes as a surprise to you, but my confession for today is that I’m not super great at setting goals. I like to think of myself as a driven person with much ambition, especially as that relates to what I do, but apathy, complacency, and downright laziness can often get the best of me. These are my daily battles—to press on toward the prize, to not stop running my race, to not grow weary in doing good, to remember who I am doing all of this for. This way of thinking combats the temptations of goalless living.
I found myself in Psalm 31 this morning, and I thought I’d share a bit of the overflow. One of the many things I love about the Psalms is the honesty about suffering found within. The writers pen much about praise and thanksgiving, but they also include the despair and desperation that is so often found within the human struggle.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish
and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
and my bones grow weak.” — Psalm 31:9-10
We don’t need to be told that life is hard. We know it is. We live on this hot pavement every single day. If we can get through a single day “trial free,” we count it a win. We long for pain-free living. We spend our time, energy, and resources to avoid hardship as much as possible.
But what if a pain-free life isn’t the goal we should be striving for?
As I read through Psalm 31, I found myself praying through its words as if it were my own prayer. I’ve come to know the Lord as my refuge and fortress from hard times past. I’ve walked hard roads of surrender with Him before. I’ve begged for His grace on far more occasions than I could ever count. I’ve pleaded with Him to remove the suffering from myself and others. But then, this struck me:
As followers of Jesus, our goal in life should never be the absence of pain; rather, it should be the presence of Jesus and the glory of God.
That’s it. Maybe we need to shift our priorities a bit. Maybe we need to get out of our own way. Maybe we need to remember that because we serve a good God, there will ALWAYS be purpose in our pain. If God can be put on display in our lives based on how we walk through pain, and if those who don’t yet know Him could meet Him through our tragedy, wouldn’t you say it was worth it all?
“Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.” — Psalm 31:24
Remember who is the lifter of your head. His name is Jesus. He is for you. He is with you. He sees your pain. He bottles up your tears. He makes beauty from ashes. Desire His presence and His glory, and you’ll see Him show up in your pain. And His presence will be more than enough.