Trouble brings with it a bucketful of emotions: despair, hurt, revenge, self-pity, anger, sorrow, and a dozen other feelings. If we’re not careful, those feelings can dominate us and disorient us from what we know. Emotions derail our thoughts and detour our commitments. How we feel tends to distort what we know.
Our resource in pain is not what we feel but what we know. When Romans 8:28 begins with the words “And we know,” it literally means that we have an absolute knowledge. Our knowledge in pain is not a “hope so” or “maybe” or “might be”—but a “know so” reality. While our emotions are like quicksand, knowledge is bedrock.
Notice that each major section on difficulty in Scripture begins with an appeal to what we know. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-4). As we have seen, James 1:2-4 directs us to “consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” When our emotions jade our perspectives, God’s truth doesn’t change. Truth is truth regardless of how we feel.
God’s truth gives us a unique edge to which we can cling in trouble.
What do we know? We know that trouble develops character (Rom. 5:3-5) and that trials equip us to be more useful (Jas. 1:2-5). Because of Romans 8:28, we know that good is the ultimate purpose of the process of pain. Knowing and clinging to what we know make the difference. Truth is our stability factor in trouble.
A friend told me about the devastating months of depression that she had gone through. Nothing had seemed to help. She said that the only thing that kept her from breaking was “the truth that heaven is real.” That basic bit of knowledge kept her head above the swirling flood of her emotional despair.
Another friend, whose child had died 2 months before, told me, “It hurts more now than it did then. All we have is the fact that God is sovereign and omniscient,” he said as his voice broke. That’s pretty basic, but it was enough to get him through.
As God’s people, we have the advantage of truth in pain. It’s a definite edge in trouble. It’s our resource. Cling to it.