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Why, LORD, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1

It’s during the wilderness time of our lives that we expect God to be present. After all, doesn’t scripture say ‘He is an ever present help in times of trouble?” (Psalm 46:1-2) Aren’t we told we can hide in him? (Psalm 91:1-2)

Too often it seems like he is the one hiding. If we are honest, the times of trouble we go through aren’t nearly as hard to take as the feeling that in those times of trouble we struggle to see God’s face. “I could endure this trouble if I could see you!” we tell ourselves.

Those struggles of our heart, the painful wandering in the wilderness of our souls are the true test of our trust in God and our belief in the hope we have through Christ. If God were to carry us through every trial and make our journey effortless; if he were to keep us from all pain and suffering and show us the easy way to traverse the rocky path of life; if he were to protect us from all pain, then from where would we learn to be strong. Troubling times are the skeleton, the muscles of life that give us strength to carry on.

Somewhere along the line we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that if God is a God of love, then pain will be absent from our lives, but this is never found in scripture. On earth, during this life we should not be surprised when trouble comes, we should be expecting it.

Sometimes we have to admit that the trials we endure are the consequences of past sin. We are forgiven to be sure, but the consequences of that sin can last a lifetime. Sometimes those consequences are natural results of our choices. Sometimes those consequences are the result of critical and judgmental people who refuse to allow us to forget our past. Either way, the consequences of our past can keep us from seeing the Father.

Times of trouble can be lessons of grace as well. Paul prayed three times for some unknown thorn to be removed from his life. The answer? My grace is sufficient. Were we to be trouble free, we might naturally assume that we are in control of our destiny, that we are able to make our way on our own strength. Grace reminds us that we need God. Times of trouble remind us that we need grace.

Times of trouble come at the hands of evil men as well. People who call themselves messengers of God can be the worst. They put the label of their religion on everything they do, but there is no grace. There is no understanding. There is no compassion. We are misjudged, misunderstood and mistreated. Sometimes for our past (which was forgiven) sometimes for our stand for God.

There may be other reasons you can think of for why this ‘time of trouble’ has come into your life. It may be to teach you some lesson on life, or to strengthen you for the future. Whatever the case, when you can’t see the Father you can know two things. One, he is not far away. Two, he has good reason to allow you this ‘time of trouble’. Use it to grow more closely to him or it will be used by the enemy to pull you away.

PRAYER: Father, I don’t understand you. I confess that openly. It’s especially hard to understand you during those times when I feel like I need you the most and can’t find

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:4

There are times in each of our lives when we feel like we can’t go on. It could be after the death of a loved one; when we face financial ruin; when relationships go bad; when our health fails or we find ourselves growing older.

During those times of weakness we seek things that will either make us stronger or help us hide the pain. We look to relationships to help us feel good about ourselves. We look for a different job so we can have a life of comfort. We surround ourselves with friends and toys so we feel valuable. If the pain gets to great, we seek drugs, alcohol or even religion to help us try to forget the pain.

No matter what you are looking for to dull the pain, there is nothing that will do that outside of a relationship with God. A relationship with God is NOT religion. Religion is a set of rules, do’s and don’ts and warnings about how to behave ‘or else’.

A relationship is uplifting, loving, compassionate and grace-ful. Relationship with God is found through faith in His Son Jesus and forgiveness for our failures because of His death and resurrection.

Not only does a relationship with God free us from the guilt and shame of a life that hasn’t met up to our expectations, a relationship with God gives us strength. Strength to endure life and its troubles can only come from God. He has promised that we can rely on His almighty power because of His love for us, not because of our ability to love Him back.

Regardless of the trials that lie ahead of you, seek to worship the only one who can bring true comfort into your life. The more you get to know Him through His Word (the Bible) and prayer, the more He will be able to help you endure what life has in store for you. There will be times He seems distant. That is a lie of the enemy. God is always near you and because of that we can live in assurance of His love for us.

The Psalmist encourages us to remember all that God has done for us and to earnestly seek Him throughout your life. There is no time when He is absent or unconcerned. There is nothing that comes your way that He can’t give you the strength to endure.

God never intended for you to do life alone. He never expects you to make all the right choices all the time. In spite of our failings He promises to love, forgive and strengthen us for the road ahead.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I praise you and worship you for being the creator and sustainer of the universe. I thank you for your Son Jesus and all that He has done for me. I feel weak today. I’m facing challenges and struggles that seem insurmountable. I ask for your strength to seek you and your strength to endure all that I have before me. Help me to remember your love as I face today’s challenges. Amen.

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