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Father comforting his crying daughter

Source: Tony Anderson / Getty

Strength in Your Struggles

Jonathan

For four straight days my ten-year-old daughter wouldn’t eat. We did everything we could to persuade her, but nothing seemed to work, and we were getting more worried as time passed. “What is wrong?” we begged. “Why won’t you eat?” Finally, she responded in a low, sad voice. “I just don’t know what’s happening to our family.” It was clear. All of the loss and heartache we’d been facing was taking a toll on even the youngest members of our family.

Once we figured out why she wasn’t eating, it was even harder. How do you help a child process the deaths of so many people she loves? You can’t exactly say, “Well, Kelsey, our family is under spiritual attack.” It’s a heartbreaking thing to hear your child say, “Daddy, is something gonna happen to me next?”

Tony

I lost my brother, my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, my father at Thanksgiving, and my wife just after Christmas. Priscilla had half of a lung removed because of a cancerous tumor. Then Chrystal discovered a suspicious growth too. After that, we faced the biggest pandemic in over a century, throwing our church into lockdown, halting our outreach and ministry. I’m sure you also know what it’s like to face one crisis after another, to struggle with confusion and pain.

Truth is, there are times in life when God seems nowhere to be found. We feel distant, lost, forgotten. Every honest believer, at some point, comes to a place where instead of singing praises, they sing the blues. We have all cried out in the dark, “God, where are You?”

I have devoted my life to study and prayer. Let me share a hard truth I have discovered along the way: God can be difficult to understand. Sometimes He will explain, but often He does not. We can ask God questions, but we cannot question God. Asking God questions means we are humbly seeking understanding. But to question God is to challenge His authority. Challenge is steeped in rebellion and arrogance.

God is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, unrestricted by time and space. God is limitless yet intimate. A low view of God in crisis means the crisis can own you. A high view of God says the crisis no longer has the last word. I cannot deny the circumstances, but I can refuse to give circumstances the final say.

When crisis has knocked you down and you’re fighting for the next breath, a few praise songs and a Sunday morning sermon aren’t enough. You have to press in tight, walking so close with God that every breath is prayer and praise, sunrise to sunset, all through the night, weaving Jesus into every piece and portion of your life. That brings new strength.

How can we know we are on the right track? When the majority of our time waiting on God is spent in worship and thanks instead of complaining. The Lord doesn’t promise to answer every question. He doesn’t promise to explain, but He does promise to inhabit the praises of His people (see Psalm 22:3) and give strength to those who trust by waiting on Him (see Isaiah 40:31).

Respond

During a time when you felt like God was distant and uncaring about your circumstances, what choices did you have in how you viewed God? In the midst of a crisis, how does the truth of God’s Word inform your view of God?

What does it look like to walk close to God through a crisis? How are praise and prayer parts of this walk?

How does God’s promise to renew the strength of those who trust and wait on Him encourage you?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as I struggle during difficult times, I am thankful that You are with me. I am thankful that You are able to renew my strength. I am thankful that in You I can overcome those things that threaten to drag me down. Even when I don’t understand my circumstances, I know that You are with me and and that You are able to make a miracle out of any mess. Amen.

Scripture:

Psalm 22:1-5
1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
And in the night season, and am not silent.
3But thou art holy,
O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
4Our fathers trusted in thee:
They trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
5They cried unto thee, and were delivered:
They trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.