Enduring Pain in Light of Eternity
May 15, 2017 Year A
My earthly pain is nothing compared to the eternal glory of God. The psalmist here shares a prayer that expresses his pain to God. He complains about his pain in a lament – a type of psalm where the writer expresses his sadness at (in this case) his pain. The psalmist cries out for help because he is in pain.
“Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide Your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call.” (Psalm 102:1–2, HCSB)
The first part of this psalm shows the psalmist’s pain, which runs from the physical to the emotional.
FIVE PAINFUL CONDITIONS
1. Aching bones (Psalm 102:3)
“For my days vanish like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.” (Psalm 102:3, HCSB)
The psalmist complains of aching bones. He has soreness from an affliction of some kind. As one ages, the bones start to ache.
2. Heartache (Psalm 102:4)
“My heart is afflicted, withered like grass…” (Psalm 102:4, HCSB)
Just as the bones may ache, the heart aches as well. In the case, it is the emotional heartbreak of someone who has experienced much difficult pain and grief.
3. Loss of appetite (Psalm 102:4)
“…I even forget to eat my food.” (Psalm 102:4, HCSB)
The psalmist has lost his appetite. He doesn’t want to eat anything. This loss of appetite probably stems from his body and heart aches. Physical pain has lowered his desire to eat.
4. Insomnia (Psalm 102:6-7)
“I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I stay awake; I am like a solitary bird on a roof.” (Psalm 102:6–7, HCSB)
The psalmist aches, has a loss of appetite and it results in insomnia. His pain keeps him up at night. He wants to sleep but in unable to do so.
5. Emotional distress (Psalm 102:8-10)
“My enemies taunt me all day long; they ridicule and curse me. I eat ashes like bread and mingle my drinks with tears because of Your indignation and wrath; for You have picked me up and thrown me aside.” (Psalm 102:8–10, HCSB)
All of these physical ailments lead to emotional pain and distress. The emotional pain hurts just as much as the physical pain. Like many people who endure pain, at first, they cry out against God. A personal enduring physical and emotional pain may sense that God is angry at them. They may even blame God for their pain.
However, pain is part of the sinful condition that humans find themselves in. After the frustration one person may have at God, they may begin to realize a truth: their time on Earth is limited. They may be in pain, yet it is only temporary. Paul reminds us that these present sufferings are nothing compared to the glory that we will see in the future (Romans 8:18).
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, HCSB)
In other words, my present pain is nothing compared to the joy of eternity. It is at that point that we go from venting frustration at God to reminding ourselves of the power and glory of God. The psalmist gives us five reasons to endure pain, in light of eternity.
FIVE REASONS TO ENDURE PAIN
1. God is all-powerful for eternity (Psalm 102:12)
“But You, Lord, are enthroned forever; Your fame endures to all generations.” (Psalm 102:12, HCSB)
God is eternal. That eternal glory will be revealed to us in the future. The present suffering is nothing compared to the eternal glory.
2. God shows compassion on His people (Psalm 102:13-14)
“You will rise up and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her— the appointed time has come. For Your servants take delight in its stones and favor its dust.” (Psalm 102:13–14, HCSB)
However, if thinking about the future is the only answer to enduring pain, then God is extremely cruel. On the contrary, God has compassion on us when we are in pain today.
3. God’s name is respected (Psalm 102:15)
“Then the nations will fear the name of Yahweh, and all the kings of the earth Your glory,” (Psalm 102:15, HCSB)
God’s name is respected. He is known because of His power. His power is not limited in defeating evil. His power also extends to helping and healing people in their time of pain. Because God’s name is respected, He can be trusted. Even the nations respect His name. Therefore, I should trust God with my pain.
4. God will rebuild what has been destroyed (Psalm 102:16)
“for the Lord will rebuild Zion; He will appear in His glory.” (Psalm 102:16, HCSB)
The reason I should trust God with my pain is because He is in the business of rebuilding. He rebuilds His people. He heals. he restores.
5. God answers the prayer of the person in pain (Psalm 102:17)
“He will pay attention to the prayer of the destitute and will not despise their prayer.” (Psalm 102:17, HCSB)
God is eternal. He has compassion. He has a reputation of helping His people. Therefore, I can count on His help with my pain when I ask.