Why Suffering? Finding Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
Have you read the book of Acts lately? It’s easy to breeze through the historical narrative—learning how the disciples spread the good news after Jesus ascended to heaven—and miss how those events can still encourage us in our Christian walk. In part one of this three-part series, we’ll look at how the book of Acts is relevant to our personal lives. Let’s look at the first few verses today.
Luke Sets the Stage
In the opening verses of Acts, Luke, the book’s author, draws our attention to three important themes:
- The presence of the resurrected Jesus
- The power of the indwelling Holy Spirit
- The proclamation of the good news of the kingdom by his disciples
These three things set the stage for how the resurrected King Jesus would establish and grow his Church as recorded by Luke, and they give us great encouragement as they remind us how King Jesus continues to grow his Church today.
Luke reminds his reader, Theophilus, about his earlier book, the Gospel of Luke, making a literary connection between that first record of Jesus’s work and its continuation in the book of Acts:
“In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen” (Acts 1:1-2).
Here, Luke is drawing from the Gospel of Luke to show that it continues to chronicle what Jesus is “doing and teaching,” only now it’s about how he does this from heaven, through his Church, by the Spirit.
Finding Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
The first theme that Luke reveals in this opening passage is Christ’s presence with his fledgling church. Luke shows us in verses 2-4 that Jesus was alive and stayed with the disciples for forty days, giving proof and speaking about the kingdom of God (v. 3). And again, in verse 4, he goes out of his way to say that he gave them commands while staying with them. Later, in verse 6, Luke wrote that they came together and asked him questions.
The knowledge of Jesus’s presence is a great comfort, especially in difficult times. As we lose loved ones, suffer financial or marital stress, or face derision and even persecution for our beliefs, it is a great comfort to know and rely on the presence of Jesus. When it comes to finding comfort when life doesn’t make sense, we have hope. We can know that we don’t face anything on our own.
He Will Sustain
I personally experienced this comfort about seventeen years ago when I lost my mother. I was only twenty years old, in college, and a very new believer. In my grief, I experienced a peace that was beyond comprehension. When I should have been undone, I was able to attend church and worship the Lord—rejoicing in the truth that he was my rock when all around me seemed to give way. I was able to stand in front of several of my peers at a college ministry meeting and share my story and encourage them in the faith. I openly admitted to them that I had no explanation; I didn’t know how I was able to share with them, other than the fact that the presence of God was in me—sustaining and filling me with hope that everything would be okay.
The presence of Jesus can sustain us when we face the toughest situations. It’s a reminder that Jesus is indeed not dead. His grave is empty, he is alive, and he is active. Our God is working in our world and in our lives, just as he was for the apostles in Acts. As a Church seeking to proclaim truth in a Western culture this is increasingly hostile to it, we will continue to face new challenges. Yet, this gives us the opportunity to be messengers of hope to a hurting nation of people. Whether you are facing suffering or blessing and victory, the presence of Christ is with you. Let that be an encouragement to your faith and a motivation to share that presence with those around you!