“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering.” ~ Elizabeth Elliot
Going through a season of hardship? We've all been there. Perhaps the greatest question we can ask during trials is: can we trust God? Do we believe that He is with us and wants what's best for us? How can He love us and yet allow something so terrible to happen? It's a difficult question to wrestle with, but it begs to be asked nonetheless. The temptation for us is to waver and express our doubt in God's will, since things are going so poorly for us at the moment. Where can God's goodness be found in such a heavy time? We'd like to turn your attention to some passages of Scripture that speak to God's presence amidst times of struggle.
Here are our three favorite Bible passages to turn to when we need some encouragement and assurance that we're not alone, and God is indeed worth trusting.
"As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as breath is in me, and the Spirit of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till the day I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast to my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days."
Arguably, no one in the Old Testament knows the pangs of suffering more than Job. If you're not familiar with his story, Job was a faithful, God-fearing man who experienced unspeakable tragedies—at the hand of God. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this book is the first few chapters outlining the dialogue between Satan and God, where God allows Satan to test Job, which leads to his suffering. In response, Job does not waver. He remains firm in his love for God, and his story is such a testament to God's sovereignty and divine wisdom over human wisdom. After experiencing the loss of his family, his land, his possessions, as well as his health, Job's friends pressure him into losing faith and forsaking God. In the teeth of suffering, Job stands firm in his faith, despite the very real evidence that God is not with him, and no longer cares. It's a stunning tale of faith amidst agony and defeat. Job expresses true, heartfelt devotion when he could easily turn from God.
This is such a timely story for us as we navigate the pitfalls of pain and suffering. Job had everything stripped of him. His friends turned against him, and yet he proclaimed, "I know that my Redeemer lives" (19:25). Not only does God show up in a very real, personal way, but He restores Job's fortune and health—rewarding him for his devotion. This painful story is a stunning reminder that God is with us every step of the way. We may be allowed to endure hardship, but there is a greater plan at play. The temptation to doubt is great, but our faith must be greater.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
This timeless passage is from 2 Corinthians 12, where Paul is explaining his many trials, namely, the thorn in his side. There are a few times in the Bible where Paul touches on this vague form of suffering, hinting at it but not giving it a name. All we know is that this great affliction torments Paul constantly, and it's something he's begged God to remove from him. God's response is, "My grace is sufficient for you." With this perspective of suffering, we realize that we're not lacking in our suffering, but instead, God is working in us, and that's a beautiful thing.
Perspective is key here. When we're faced with hardship, do we see it as God somehow punishing us or no longer loving us? Or do we see it as a necessary event where God is with us even more and is giving us strength to endure? The next time you need some perspective, turn to this verse and remember that in your weakness, you are strong. The Lord of the universe is strengthening you with His power.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
The ultimate reminder of God's love and presence is the story of Jesus Himself. Here we have Paul reminding us that we do not have a God who is unable to sympathize with us. Jesus endured suffering of every kind on the cross and still was faithful to the Father until the end. With this knowledge, we see God not as some cruel ruler, without emotion, without pain, calling the shots on our lives. Instead, He is kind and loving, and sent His son to die on the cross and experience the most despicable form of human suffering, all for us to have access to Him and experience Him fully.
If you're familiar with the book Hebrews, you'll know that Paul wrote this to encourage Christians in a time of trial, and he does so by highlighting the love and supremacy of Jesus Christ. Christ set the ultimate example of how we are to respond to suffering. Even in the garden of Gethsemane, right before Jesus knew He was to be captured and killed, He appealed to God and said, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus is honest with God here. He expresses His opinion, and asks God for there to be some other way His will could be accomplished, and yet, at the end he finishes His plea with a declaration of obedience. In this way, we can emulate Jesus here. We can come to God with our honest feelings of despair and confusion. We don't have to hide.
You're Never Alone
Never forget that the Lord is with you—especially in times of difficulty. It may feel like you're alone and forgotten, but He is closer than you think. Continue to reach out to Him in prayer, be honest, seek out fellowship and encouragement, and keep the faith. Remember just how loved you are! Shop our selection of our Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery.