Charlie Brown builds a beautiful sandcastle, working on it for hours. Finally he stands back and looks at it. It’s wonderful. Just as he’s admiring it, a storm comes up and blows over all of his sandcastle. Now he’s standing where his beautiful masterpiece was, on level sand, saying to himself, "I know there’s a lesson in this, but I’m not sure what it is."
This is something we're all too familiar with. We work hard to fulfill our hopes and dreams. We carefully lay out our plans. But plans go awry. Things happen beyond our control. We needlessly suffer because of problems not of our own doing. We encounter setbacks. Crisis erupt in our lives. Eventually, the small and big stresses of daily life tear and wear us away.
There are many words to describe this affliction to humanity: problems, difficulties, troubles, hardships, trials, sufferings, grief, heartaches, distress, pain, sorrow. It afflicts all people whatever status, gender, race, age, or religion. Yes, being a Christian does not mean that we will no longer face sufferings in life. However, there is a very significant difference in the way we look at suffering, and that is by looking beyond it, and knowing that even through the darkest nights of our lives there is something, there is Someone we can hold on to. There are several truths about God that we ought to enjoy and think about and hold on to during the difficult times of our lives:
God knows what you're going through.
The first thing we should know is that God is fully aware of our suffering:
"You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?" Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)
However wonderful it is that He is aware of our sufferings, simple awareness may not be enough to give us comfort. This awareness is not based on an abstract but apathetic knowledge of what is happening to us. When we are hurting and are going through problems we are not comforted by abstract theology. What we need is empathy. What we need is someone who understands.
Oftentimes we find it difficult to understand why He allows bad things to happen and wonder if He even knows what we're going through. However difficult it is, we should realize that He does.
In one of His greatest displays of love God laid aside his godhood and took on humanity and experienced the things we experience. As a man Jesus suffered everything we suffer. He experienced grief, desertion, loneliness, injustice, sorrow, and even death. He wept in the face of loss, wept in the face of suffering, wept in the face of rejection, wept in the face of pain.
So as you struggle through the dark valleys and disappointments in life, know that you are not alone. God knows what you are going through. Our Lord and Savior experienced everything you, and all of humanity, grieve.
God cares for you.
The next wonderful truth is that God is not only aware and understand what we're going through, but He actually cares. The scriptures repeatedly compare God's love to that of a lover, of a mother, and of a father. The common aspect of all three figures is their love. It might be difficult to believe that the creator of the universe would care for our cares and be concerned with our concerns, but Jesus showed that God cared so much that nothing is too trivial. He said that God cared even for the sparrows, and yet we are much more important than sparrows. He is so familiar with all of us that even the hairs of our heads are numbered. And as a father He knows what we need even before we ask, and would give us willingly when we do ask.
The psalmists would agree:
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:13 (NIV)
And King David himself is astonished with God's attention to Him.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him And the son of man that You visit him? Psalm 8:3-4 (NKJV)
Finally, the apostle Peter tells us that God cares enough for us that we should cast our anxieties on Him.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)
We might think that God is way too important to care about us and our little anxieties, but God is telling us that he cares for us and that we should humble ourselves not by carrying our anxieties alone but to cast it on Him. Our anxieties, our problems, and our stresses are not meant to be carried, but are meant to be cast unto God. He cares for us.
God is working for you.
God is at work in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). God is at work in us to advance toward completion the good work that he began in us (Philippians 1:6). Though often unseen and unfelt by us, God is at work in every detail of our lives and experience and the lives and experience of possibly thousands of others, to bring about answers to our long-requested prayers, to open the door that seems impossibly closed to us, to deliver us from affliction, or to make us an unexpected, remarkable means of grace to someone else.
This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)
Each day is a day that the Lord has specially made. He has planned each day for us. Each day has a purpose. God does not waste a day and he will not waste you. And we who love and trust him, we will one day discover that each day, whether awfully unremarkable or enormously stressful, will do us remarkable good (Romans 8:28).
We might wonder why things that are happening are happening. We might wonder why bad things are allowed to happen. We might wonder where God is when we are being pressed. But the bible says that all things work together for good for those who love Him and for those who are called for His purpose. All the things that happen to us, whether we perceive to be good or bad, is ultimately for good. Even the world recognizes that sometimes the bad can result to a greater good. The world calls these "blessings in disguise". But as Christians we believe in the sovereignty of God and in His infinite wisdom. He has a design on all things. And they are all ultimately for our good. As John Piper says "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life. And you may be aware of three of them."
God is a God who knows. He cares. He acts. He is working for our good, even if we sometimes do not understand why things are happening. The psalmist Asaph had the same questions in mind. In Psalms 73, he was wondering why the wicked was prospering. He thought that surely his decision to turn to God and godliness was useless. And when he tried to understand, it was all too painful and oppressive for him. But the turning point came. "I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end." He realized that God is not ignoring what was happening. He is a God who acts. He is a God who works. At the end of the chapter he declared "But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works."
Do you have problems you think are unsolvable? Do you have anxieties? Are you stressed? All these are normal in a fallen world. Some of us have more or greater problems and worries than others, but we all have them. However for the Christian child we see things differently. We have a God. He knows. He understands. He cares. He works for us.
Let us always remind ourselves:
God will make a way,
When there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day,
God will make a way.