It is tempting to think that once we have gone through a period of trial or suffering that we won't go through another season of suffering again. I am tempted to believe that because He chose to take one of my infant children home, He won't take anymore. The temptation is to go back to that naive form of thinking that says "God will protect me. Nothing bad will happen to me." But deep down, I know that is not true. He may choose to strike me down again and again and again.
The problem with believing that a good God wouldn't allow our suffering is that when we do suffer, and the Bible teaches that we will suffer, we are forced to grapple with a view of God that has been shattered. It often leaves us helpless and without a foundation to stand on. It can cause a person to deny the existence of God at the worst or at best to see Him as distant, uncaring and powerless. We can then fall into the trap of trying to control our situations, blaming others, blaming ourselves and playing the 'what if?' and 'if only' game over and over in our minds.
On the other extreme is to live in fear of what God is going to do next. It is the constant wondering of when the next trial is going to arrive. Doubting that the next pregnancy will end well and fearing that it will end in miscarriage or stillbirth. Expecting daily that today will be the day my child dies of crib death, or I'll receive that phone call informing me my husband has been in an accident, or one of my children goes missing. For me, this is the most difficult temptation not to succumb to, because I know, I know that it could happen because it has happened. So the temptation is to tell myself God won't let me suffer again or to lay awake night after night in anxious worry.
Anxiety is sin and it consumes. Lying to myself will not bring lasting peace. I long to be a woman who laughs at the days to come and so I find I often need to refocus my mind in the way I view God and myself.
First I need to remind myself of the true nature and character of God. He is a good God. He is a loving God. He is the giver of life and every good gift. Suffering does not compromise His character or these truths. In the face of my anxious moments, days and nights I need to remind myself that "He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him," and "that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future." When I am tempted to be anxious I have lost sight of who God truly is. I have seated a false god on the throne of my heart.
The second thing that has to happen is to humble myself. We are told in 1 Peter to humble ourselves and cast all our anxieties on the Lord. When I am tempted to anxiety, I am really making much more of myself than I ought. I am more focused on my own comfort and ease than seeking to glorify God. I am seeking the treasures of this world rather than focusing on the Kingdom to come. Hebrews 11 helps put things into a right perspective when we are told God does not promise anything for this life, but is not ashamed to be called our God because there is more after this life. I am clinging to a life that is not mine and circumstances that are temporary. When I fear losses that may come I am taking ownership of my life which was bought at a cost, and I am taking ownership of the lives of my children which are not mine. I am clinging tightly to that which I ought to be holding loosely for the glory of God. I am failing to trust in God and I am doubting His leading and wisdom for my life as though somehow I know better.
Finally, in the face of these temptations it is helpful for me to dwell on my time of suffering and loss and remember that God was not distant and detached from those moments in my life but that He was closer than ever. That time holds for me the sweetest moments of the Holy Spirit's presence I have ever known. He was my comforter. He brought peace that surpassed all understanding. So although I know better than some that suffering is inevitable, I also know better than many that the Lord will bear up under me. Because I have walked in the valley of the shadow of death, I know that that shadow is cast by the wings of the Almighty and under His wing is a very good place to be hidden and find rest.