We sat in the coffee shop talking about the disappointing turn her life had taken. She thought she had what she wanted in life but within the time it took to make one decision everything was turned upside down.
It had been six months since he left and her feelings are tangled in a ball of confusion. She is trying to cobble together a life by herself. We talked about her connection to God and where she is with Him now.
Thoughts of failure and unworthiness were swirling in her head. She wondered where God is; did He too walk away from her? Can God and His people be trusted? There must be something really bad about me that this happened?
Listen for Truth
In times of difficulty and pain, many fears and insecurities vie for center stage in our mind. When we are attacked by swarming life draining thoughts the best place to go is to the source of truth, the Word of God. If you are not strong enough to go there by yourself, call a friend and seek these truths together.
Knowing truths about God that we can sink our faith into is like firmly embedded pegs in a slick rock wall that you can grasp onto to keep your balance and use to pull yourself up as you move forward.
So God’s peace entered the coffee shop as we read some truths about Him.
One of the stand out truths we needed that morning was to know that God cares about us and He is with us in our hurts. God is very personal. He does not disappear when we are going through difficulties. Here are a few verses that reveal the truth of God’s heart for us.
“Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
This truth of God’s care and concern for us stands out within a passage from the letter of Peter to the disciples scattered abroad due to persecutions. The disciples had to move away to escape the threats to their life, their faith, their families, their livelihood, etc. They probably left behind much and were in emotional distress, and physical need. It is possible that they did not feel the care of God. Yet, in the midst of their troubles, Peter tells them this truth – “… God cares for you.”
The word translated “cares for you” is defined as: to pay special attention to; to take an interest in.
The truth about God always stands in direct opposition to the circumstances we are in.
Our circumstances seem to shout out: “God does not care.”
These disciples to whom Peter wrote had to make a choice to believe that God cares.
This truth is the same today, and we receive the benefits of this truth the same way they did. In the midst of the pain and chaos of our lives, we choose to believe that God cares. This truth is found over and over again in God’s Word. Truth leads us out of hopelessness and fear.
God Knows the Details
The scripture 1 Peter 1:5:7 literally means God cares about every little detail of your life. “Surely not,” you say. But yes that is the truth; a description of this very truth is in Psalm 56:8:
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (ESV)
Some translations say “wanderings” instead of tossings, which makes sense in light of all Israel’s wanderings and missteps. But the truth about God is He knows our wanderings, our tossings. He records our tossings of confusion, distress, despair, hurt, fear, betrayal, etc., in His book.
It’s like God keeps a journal of our difficult and painful times much like a parent might journal the growth of their child. God tenderly stores our tears in a bottle, as a parent might keep their child’s first tooth to come out, or store away a lock of baby hair.
A loving parent is attuned to all good growth as well as difficulties in their child’s life. In fact many parents can sense even a nuance of difficulty in their child’s life. God is the perfect parent, the ultimate shepherd; and He sees, He knows, He records our laments, and He responds.
I Don’t Know
Well, you say, “If God cares so much and He knows so much why doesn’t He change my situation, in fact, why did He allow this to happen in the first place?
I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. I have thought that if God really cared, He would magically pluck me up out of the difficulty.
It has been my experience that in general, God does not do this. But true to His faithfulness and love, God walks with us in all these things. We see Him with us through our faith.
For example, consider the account in the book of Daniel in which Daniel is falsely accused, of sedition against the king by jealous men. God does not rush in and punish these men; He does not send an angel to tell the king to overturn the ruling; and He doesn’t mysteriously remove Daniel from the situation.
Daniel still has to walk into the den where there are lions, hungry ones. Imagine that!
Daniel does not have an insider tip that God will shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel moves forward perhaps with some fear, and is willing to be attacked by hungry lions for honoring God. Yet God was there and shut the mouths of the lions. (Read Daniel 6) Think about what it might have been like for Daniel in that den that night. Could it be similar to you in your troubles?
God Is in It
A similar account is in Daniel 3 regarding an account of three young men who refuse to dishonor God by engaging in an act of worship that would betray their loyalty to God. These men knew the punishment for this crime against the king – death in a fiery furnace.
I hate fire and would do almost anything to avoid being burned by fire, let alone death by fire.
These three men professed their faith in God and their knowledge of His faithful care and powerful ability to save them, but also they were aware that God might not save them from this fiery death.
Again, we do not see God swooping to the rescue like a modern super hero; righting every wrong; huffing out the fire; rebuking the king; exposing the accusers or picking up the three men and flying away with them. No! The three young men stand firm in trusting and honoring God and walk into the fire.
Do you think they did not have any fear of the flames? Any second thoughts? Any tossings in their minds?
Where was God? – In the flames with them!
Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25
As a result of their faith in God; in your face loyalty to God and God’s presence with them, these three young men came out of the fire unsinged.
“ … So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Dan. 3:26b-27
The Result of Trusting God
What was the result of the fiery trial of these three young men? They saw the glory of God. The king and all his people believed and praised God. (See Daniel 3:28-28)
In the midst of our troubles; our anxieties; our tossings; our pain we need to ignore the lying voices about God, and deliberately hang onto truths we know about Him. The truth is God cares about us and our lives, and God is with us in the big and small troubles.
So what will you and I choose to believe about God when we are in the fire? Will we trust that He cares, that He is there walking with us? Will we choose truth and see His glory?
As you reflect on these questions, consider this truth about God.
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him freely give us all things?!” Romans 8:32