How To Worship When Our Suffering Seems Fruitless

by Kristen Gilles

in Coping With Miscarriage/Stillbirth/Death,Worship Leading

"The Mourners" photo (darkened trees)“Lord, in distress we searched for you. We prayed beneath the burden of Your discipline. Just as a pregnant woman writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth, so were we in Your presence, Lord.  We, too, writhe in agony, but nothing comes of our suffering. We have not given salvation to the earth, nor brought life into the world.  But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For Your life-giving light will fall like dew on Your people in the place of the dead!”  – Isaiah 26:16-19

Why should we praise the Lord when our sufferings seem fruitless?  Why should a woman rejoice after writhing in agony, laboring with great pain only to hold her stillborn son?  Why should we sing joyful songs after burying our loved one who lost their cancer battle?

In distress we search for the Lord.  We groan.  We suffer.  We weep.  And it seems like nothing comes from our suffering.  It’s not bringing salvation to the earth or bringing life into the world.

This passage from Isaiah is literally true for many people.  It’s literally true for me.  Last October, I was that pregnant woman writhing and crying out in pain as I was giving birth to my son, Parker.  And at the time that he was stillborn, it looked like nothing had come from my suffering.  Since then, I battled the lie that I had nothing to show for my efforts in carrying him or laboring to deliver him.  I had not brought forth life into the world.

Yet, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know that my Redeemer lives.  And because He lives, I who have been buried with Christ in baptism now live, and my physical body will be raised to new life at the last day.

So, I praise the Lord!  I command my soul to praise Him with my empty arms lifted high.  I declare His salvation to me, to my son Parker, to all who believe in His name, and I rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is also our resurrection!  Because those who die in the Lord will live.  Their bodies WILL rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy!  For the life-giving light of the Lord will fall like dew on His people in the place of the dead!

This is why we praise the Lord.  Christ suffered.  Christ died. Christ rose again.  After suffering under the weight of the sins of the whole world in His own death on the cross, He dealt Death the final, fatal blow when He rose victorious from the grave!  And He has promised to return and “remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that still hangs over the earth.  He will swallow up death forever!  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.”  (Isaiah 25:7-8).

The suffering of Christ was not fruitless.  His writhing on the cross in agony and crying out to His Father in pain gave Salvation to the earth and brought fullness of Life to the world.  And He proved God’s word to us that those who die in the Lord will live.  He is the firstborn among the dead!  He has risen up from the ground and now joyfully sings God’s praises in Heaven where He intercedes for us and perfects our worship of God.

As we share in Christ’s sufferings here, although it may appear that nothing good is coming from our troubles, let us behold our Risen Savior. As we long for His return, let us praise Him for His victory over death and His promise to wipe away all of our tears.

“The Mourners” photo, top, used via Creative Commons license

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