Where is God when we suffer?” is a common question when walking through hard times.
Are you looking around at your life, at your current circumstances, and wondering where God is? Do you feel like he’s forgotten about you, like you’ve been forsaken and he’s just nowhere to be seen, no matter how hard you try?
Well, today I want to share some words of encouragement with you to help you understand and embrace the truth that God will never leave or forsake you and that he is close to those who are brokenhearted and down in spirit.
We talk a lot about hard times here on this podcast and in our community. One of the most common things that I hear a lot is “Where is God?” I think the first question that I hear a lot is why. And the next question is where?
You want to know why are these things happening. Why is God allowing you to go through this? The follow-up to that is, “Where is God Right now?” You wonder if he sees you in pain, hurting, and struggling. Things are hard and you need relief. God doesn’t seem to answer you. What is going on?
I’ve been there. I think I’ve been pretty honest with you about the number of times that I have sat in the middle of my floor, sobbing and screaming at the top of my lungs: Where are you? Because it was just so much, so hard, and I felt like I couldn’t do this anymore.
Where are you, lord? And God was so faithful to answer me in my moment of need and that moment of despair. I know that there are so many other women in our community with the same struggles. You send me messages and emails.
You are all so gracious in sharing your stories with me, and I’m so grateful for the fact that you trust me enough to share your struggles and testimonies with me. I don’t take that lightly. As I prepared to record this podcast, I told the Lord that I needed him to give me something, some measure of hope or encouragement that can anchor all of us as we continue to walk through hard things.
Today I’m sharing what God gave me because it was something that I had never heard before. It was something that blessed and encouraged me, and I hope that it does the same for you.
Where is God When We Suffer: The Trinity
When you are thinking about what you’re going through and you’re trying to figure out where God is, I want to encourage you to do one thing: think of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Bear with me, because I promise you this is going to make sense. So often I hear from ladies who want to feel closer to God. They tell me they want to feel God’s presence but aren’t sure where he went. The truth is God doesn’t move.
When you’re going through something hard, when you are deep in despair and you are crying out for him because you are hurting and desperate, it’s not that God can’t hear you. It’s not that he isn’t working on your behalf because he’s moved away from you.
He doesn’t do that. Jesus came all the way down to earth to be with you. You have the Holy Spirit living inside you. God is not saying, “Nope. She’s a mess. I’m going to go over here where it’s not a mess.” He doesn’t do that. God does not move.
We do and we don’t. There’s literally nowhere that you can go where God isn’t there, especially as his child. He’s always with you, you can’t get away from God. Often happens is that you turn your face away from God. When your face is away from God, you don’t see him, even though he’s right there, exactly where he has always been and where he will continue to be.
So God, the Father, where is he? Well, he’s gone before you to prepare the way, but not so far ahead of you that he can’t hear your prayers. God is always within earshot of your prayers. He hears them even before you utter the words out of your mouth.
Where is Jesus when you are hurting and struggling? He’s covering your past mistakes with the cross. He chose to die on the cross for you, for me, and for all of us. When he’s on the cross and says. “My God, why have you forsaken me?” You are the answer to that question. I am the answer to that question. We are all the answer to that question.
Every time you are tempted to look back at your past to say I made this mistake, I did this wrong, or I should be ashamed here look back and see the cross. Look back and see Jesus, who loved you so much that he decided to take this punishment that was meant for you. Look back and see Jesus.
The Holy Spirit, where is he? He’s within you. If you are a child of the king, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. It’s the gift that Jesus promised when he left and went back up to heaven. He is leading you and guiding you. Think of him as your own personal divine GPS.
The one who says go here or don’t go here, or wait a minute something’s off here. Remember, God is, he was, and he always will be. That covers your past, present, and future. That is how powerful our God is, he exists in all of those times, for all of times.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God was not scratching his head going, oh my goodness, what am I going to do? No, he had already gone before and made the way. He knew exactly how he was going to restore the situation. So keep that in mind.
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Where is God When We Suffer: The Problem
The problem, as I said before, is that your eyes are usually on the wrong things. Remember, God doesn’t move, but you can often turn your head away from him so you don’t see him. There are a few reasons why this happens.
Dealing with Shame
The first reason that we don’t know where God is is that we are so focused on our past mistakes or we’re stuck in shame. Shame is not from God. He does not put shame on us. He does not say shame on you when you make a mistake.
That’s not him, that’s the enemy. God loves you and he knows you and he knows that you are human and he is not surprised when you make a misstep. There’s no condemnation for those that are in Christ. None.
What happens is that when you make a mistake (and we all do) you look at your situation and think if you had just not done that one thing two years ago you wouldn’t be in the situation.
The problem is that you don’t see that Jesus has already paid for that. Whatever that mistake is, whatever that sin was, Jesus has already paid the price for that on the cross.
You’re focused on all these bad things you did and God’s going “What thing? All I see is my son on the cross. All I see is his blood. It’s already covered let’s move forward.”
You don’t hear the Holy Spirit in you telling you to keep going. Telling you it’s okay, you are still loved by God. He’s going to be here. The Holy Spirit will help you, lead you, guide you, and make your path straight.
You just don’t see that God is standing right in front of you with his arms wide open, saying come. That is like the truth of the gospel. He is not concerned about those mistakes or what you think about your past.
He wants you to come to him because wants to give you peace, strength, rest, joy, and hope. You won’t see those things if you’re so focused on mistakes and feel like you’re stuck in shame.
Dealing with Your Pain
The second thing that we often get focused on instead of God is our pain. That was me last year, as I realized that because things had been so hard for so long all I could see was the hard.
All I could see was what was missing, what I wanted and didn’t have, what was difficult, what was hurting my kids, and what was hurting me. I couldn’t see anything beyond my pain. When that happens, you don’t see that Jesus is your friend.
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. What does it mean for Jesus to be your friend? He’s there with you and he understands. He walked on this earth as a human and knows what it’s like to be betrayed. What it’s like to grieve.
He knows how you feel and when you are so focused on your pain you think that you’re all alone and miss out on the truth that Jesus is your friend. You don’t hear comfort from the Holy Spirit.
If you’re just focused on your pain, you’re not going to hear the voice of God that’s reminding you that he’s never going to leave you or forsake you. You won’t hear the reminder that when you ask for forgiveness your sins are thrown into the sea of forgetfulness and remembered no more.
Dealing with Obstacles
The third and final problem is that we focus on obstacles, all the things that are getting in our way. I’m so guilty of this, I could come up with a thousand reasons why my dreams aren’t coming true or why things aren’t getting better.
I get so wrapped up in those obstacles. Sometimes I think those obstacles are people so I tell myself it’s his fault or her fault. When you’re so focused on the thing that’s standing in your way that you don’t even see the fact that God has cleared a path for you to go around or over whatever that obstacle is.
The Holy Spirit knows the way and Jesus has your back. God has made a clear path and the Holy Spirit wants to be your GPS. He knows where you should go and what God wants you to do.
Jesus wants you to know that he’s there with you, and he’s not going to let you get attacked or stumble and fail. He’s right here with you on this journey. Just keep these things in mind when you want to worry about where God is. Turn our eyes back on him.
If you can keep your eyes on the Lord you’ll be able to experience the peace that passes understanding. Just like when Peter walked on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he was fine, the second he looked at the storm he sank.
But that’s not the end of the story. The end of that account in scripture is not that Peter drowned and died. It’s that Jesus was right there, to reach down and pick him back up.
Where is God When We Suffer: Final Thoughts
I want to encourage you whatever you’re experiencing right now to consider this idea of the Trinity. The fact that God was, he is, and will be and what that means for your circumstances.
When you’re tempted to focus on your mistakes remember, turn back to Jesus. When you’re tempted to focus on what’s hard turn your eyes back to Jesus. When you’re tempted to look at all the things that are getting in your way turn your eyes back to Jesus, because he is the solution.
He’s both the solution and the answer when you’re struggling with feeling like you’re forgotten because you don’t know where God is. Grow closer to God by focusing on your relationship with Him.
Who he is, because when you allow him to show you who he is, that’s going to tell you who you are. When you know who God is and you know who you are, that puts your circumstances and a totally different perspective and a whole new light, and that changes everything.
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