Holding on to your faith during difficult times

Have you ever asked God the question: “Why God are you allowing me or my loved ones to suffer like this?”  If you have ever gone through some type of emotional, spiritual, or physical pain, then chances are you have asked or thought about this question.  May I suggest a couple of thoughts that might help along the way.
First, during our times of suffering, God is near even when he seems far away.  When we experience difficult trials and tribulations, we normally pray to God and ask Him for immediate relief.  However, as we all know, God answers prayer in His own time, so we may not receive immediate help from Him. We may have to go through many days, weeks, months or years of trying times.  After suffering a while we start wondering why God hasn’t intervened.  We begin questioning ourselves. What have I done to deserve this, and then we begin to question whether or not God even cares.  We feel as though God has abandoned us and that He is nowhere to be found. We feel alone and isolated from God.
Have you ever felt this way?  In the Bible, many great men of God experienced these types of emotions.  For example, David experienced a feeling of isolation from God when he was running for his life from Saul.  He cried out to God and said in   Psalms 13:1 (NKJV) ¹“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?”  Job, who lost everything – his children, his wealth, his servants, his reputation, and his friends – experienced despair and isolation from God.   Job 23: 8-10 (KJV) ⁸“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: ⁹On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: ¹⁰But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
It’s common and natural to feel Isolated from God when we experience difficult times, however, the Bible assures us that God is present even when He seems far away!  Even when God seems 1,000 miles away and uninterested in our affairs, He is with us step-by-step during difficult times.  If we are faithful, God is walking right along with us especially during our times of suffering.  He has not abandoned us, for we are His children and He loves us and cares for us. We must realize that He is watching over us and is doing what is best for us.  The Apostle Peter tells us to cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Does this sound like a God who cares little about our problems?
Not only will God not leave us in our time of suffering; but Second, God’s timing is perfect with his assistance, even when he appears catastrophically late.  When we suffer, we naturally want God to immediately take away our pain; but sometimes, He can be agonizingly slow in solving the problems that we bring to His attention.  Let me illustrate this by looking at the story of Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus, as told in John 11.  The members of this little family were among Jesus’ closest friends during the time of His earthly ministry.  In fact, verse 5 says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  Lazarus became very ill, almost to the point of death, so his sisters did the logical thing – they sent an urgent message to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (v. 3).  They had every reason to believe He would immediately respond; however, days had passed before Jesus finally made it to Lazarus and by that time it was too late, he had already died.  On Jesus’ arrival, we read that Martha came to Jesus and said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (verse 32).  But in verse 43 Jesus performed one of His most dramatic miracles as He called Lazarus out of the tomb.  You see, Jesus was not late at all.  He arrived at the precise moment necessary to fulfill the purposes of God – just as He always does. God’s purpose was fulfilled through Lazarus because in John 11:45 (KJV) ⁴⁵“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.”  You see, God is never late when it comes to Him handling our painful situations. He is always on time: His time and not our time.

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