By Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
It seems as inevitable as the sun rising over the horizon and setting once more that there will be times in our lives when we do not feel the presence of God. It may be in times of great sorrow when we reach up to the heavens asking for comfort and in return, we are greeted by nothing but the star’s silent stare. What can be done in such a time and how should we respond when we see someone going through this?
First, we should continue in the practices that have worked. Which is to continue praying, worshiping, communion, gospel work, and fellowship. By doing this we will show our trust, allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to rally around us, seek counsel from the elders, and continue to grow and be sanctified in the Lord. In James 1:12, we read “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”¹
Second, we should remember the promises that have been made to us. We know that God is with us for He told the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6. In Zephaniah 3:17 we read, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”¹ Some may say these are not promises given to us as Christians and so we cannot claim them as our own. Such a statement is true. I do not intend to say that God is going before us to slay our enemies, however, I do intend to say that God is always with us regardless of whether or not we feel His presence. We should be encouraged that our God is watching over us, and we should be encouraged that, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:1¹
There is another way to put it as well, “God designs the world, therefore, not to shield us from hardships, but to facilitate our progress toward perfection through our constant encounters with dangers, difficulties, and misfortunes…”² It could be true that in such a world a greater amount of good is achieved. For if a world was created where no evil and difficulty existed, then we would not be able to experience certain virtues such as courage or empathy. However, because evil exists not only do we experience the good of such virtues, but also experience the good of overcoming such evils.
So then when we see others enduring hardships how should we respond? We should come alongside those who suffer to encourage, pray, and help them however we can. Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”¹
Lord, you are good in all you do and we thank you for the blessings you have rained upon us. I pray that as we consider this article our eyes are opened. So when we enter into difficulties and trials we may identify them and be joyful that this process will bring us closer to You. Help us to encourage others who seem far away from you and remind us of your glory daily. Amen.
1 Crossway Bibles. (2001). The Holy Bible English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers.
2 Scott, M. S. (2010). Suffering and Soul Making: Rethinking John Hick’s Theodicy. The Journal of Religion, 313.