How to Know You’re Not Stuck in Suffering – Just Waiting

young person sitting on a bench at sunset looking tired and discouraged, prayer when faith is tired

How to Know You’re Not Stuck in Suffering – Just Waiting

Sometimes we look and look and there seems to be no exit. If relief is supposed to come, then where is it? Where is God? If He were close, then the pain would be far away, right?

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Time is not so quick to pass in the presence of boredom, or worse, suffering. And without a timeline to reference, suffering can feel like an unending burden.

That is, if we’re the one suffering.

In one of his sermons, Pastor Tim Keller made an excellent point about suffering. When we see suffering in someone else’s life, we can say with much enthusiasm (and quite comfortably) that there is purpose.

A natural disaster in China? God has a purpose.

A school shooting in some distant city? God has a purpose.

Someone else’s broken marriage? There’s a purpose.

Then the suffering comes home. And the suffering doesn’t last just a night. Sometimes suffering can last for years. When suffering becomes personal, suddenly it doesn’t have a purpose. We can no longer casually pray for God to fix things as we watch from a distance. Instead, we’re in the limelight, participants looking for a way out. Sometimes we look and look and there seems to be no exit. If relief is supposed to come, then where is it? Without an answer, doubt can creep in.

Where is God? If He were close, then the pain would be far away, right?

Wrong. Scripture gives plenty of examples of believers who waited in their suffering. No matter how difficult their lives became, they maintained trust in the Lord. We see this exemplified in David running from his son Absalom, Job losing his family and possessions, and Jesus on the cross. Suffering does not equal the absence of God.

Knowing the Bible helps us shift our perspective: from doubt to hope, from fear to trust. We are not stuck when we suffer. We’re just waiting.

Why Do We Get Stuck?

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long will I store up anxious concerns within me,

agony in my mind every day?

How long will my enemy dominate me?”

(Psalm 13:1-2)

Psalm 13 presents the same type of emotional plea we give God when we tire of our hardships.

Praying to God about why we suffer does not always yield an immediate answer. Sometimes years will pass before we can reflect on a particular situation or person with complete understanding. And sometimes that understanding never comes.

This psalm continues to express concerns to God before the speaker, David, shifts his perspective with one simple word.


All these bad things are happening to him but…

There seems to be no way out of the suffering but...

Or as he says, But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance” (Psalm 13:5).

Despite what David faces, he continues to maintain his trust that God will deliver him. When we find ourselves in situations similar to David (without Absalom’s army chasing us), when we get stuck when we forget that deliverance is promised.

We start to think the opposite, not only do we have to find a way out on our own, but we may be stuck forever. This isn’t Scripture speaking—only our thoughts.

As my pastor says, living a godly life requires us to be “spiritually informed.” When we are, we don’t allow our thoughts to direct us, we have God’s word.

Intentionally Waiting

“but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not become weary,

they will walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31)

With the correct perspective of our suffering—that God will help us and the problems don’t last always—we can intentionally wait for God.

This verse from Isaiah speaks to God’s ability to renew us. He can take a problem and turn it around. And if God chooses not to do that, He can instead lead us into something better than where we were previously. Whether or not we get there is a choice.

Jennie Allen writes her book about anxiety that the “what ifs” indicate a negative belief we have about God. If we think negatively about God, we are more likely to give into our fears than our faith. The solution? As we suffer we can remind ourselves of God’s word. When the what if pops up, we can answer with a God will.

Getting from one to the other is a choice, but a worthwhile decision. The truth Jennie writes in her book applies to all of our fears.

If we can recognize that being stuck is a figment of our anxious imagination, then we can shift our thinking to intentional waiting instead.

Never Stuck, Only Waiting

“When I observe your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you set in place,

what is a human being that you remember him,

a son of man that you look after him?”

(Psalm 8:3-4)

The Bible gives many references to God’s love for people. He sent His only son to die on the cross for the sins of humanity. What a feat.

Where does God’s love for us originate? Why did he seek to create us and love us so intensely?

We may never know until our day in heaven. What we can be sure of is that God is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives. He is with us when we wake in the morning and when we lie down at night.

God is present when we are overjoyed in life and when we are riddled with despair. If we know this, then we know God promises deliverance for us in all circumstances. Suffering does not last forever.

Again, suffering does not last forever.

We are never stuck. We are only waiting.

With this wisdom in mind, we can remain spiritually informed of God’s truth, and not our own negative thinking. Next time we get on our knees to pray and ask God how long, we can do so with much more confidence in God. No matter how long we wait, He will deliver.

That’s His promise.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Jude Beck

headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.