There are often times when it feels like everything has collapsed. It seems as though all upon which we have built our hope has crumbled beneath us; that all support is gone. This, more than ever, is when we need God. He is our rock and fortress, an ever-present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).
Yet suffering is never that easy. We may understand that we need to rely on God, yet even when we cling close, suffering still hurts. We raise questions and search for meaning, assuming that information can bring us comfort. “If I only knew why…” or “What is the reason for…” come to our minds. I have never found comfort in information for information cannot heal. If I had a solid concrete reason for my suffering, such as “the chemicals in my head are out of balance, thus causing me to feel the same chemical effect as guilt, fear or depression” my condition and experience of symptoms would not change.
We see this illustrated in the movie Batman Begins. The main villain, Scarecrow, has weaponized a compound that induces panic, fear, and hallucinations when inhaled. That information brings absolutely no comfort when someone has this compound sprayed in their face. Likewise, when we can trace the reason for our suffering to even the most plausible explanations, our suffering is not relieved.
What all this means is that it is ok to hurt. Those of us who often support others through suffering need to hear this. Our role is not to provide information or speculate the why behind suffering, but to be a comforting presence. Once the suffering has past, then we can start to process the “why” but only with permission from the afflicted. We do not read much about Nebuchadnezzar’s suffering, except that it is exactly what the Lord said would happen. Perhaps there is little detail about his suffering to keep the reader from fixating on it.
Nebuchadnezzar was told by God, interpreted by Daniel (Dan 4:24-25) that he would be brought low. The information was given to him clearly yet it did not lead to a change in heart or action. He still worshiped himself and reveled in the glory of his own work and sense of worth. So God brought the dream to reality. After his humiliation, we read a prayer that reveals a different heart.
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,” (Dan. 4:34). This idea was told to him from outside sources, but now it comes from within. He touched the stove and learned through pain that is was hot. He continued in worship of himself, until the Lord brought him low.
A few things are brought up in this passage.
1. Suffering often cannot be relieved by information.
2. The best way to support someone going through mental distress is to be with them.
3. Only after the events have subsided, should we then look back and process what happened.