Jeanne Takenaka Have you ever asked yourself this: does God care—really care—when I’m walking through hard times?
Recently, a friend texted asking me to pray. When we talked later, she shared the heartbreaking, soul-wearying things going on in her life right now. She said she didn’t understand why God allowed these things.
And honestly? I had no answers for her. I refused to fall back on the cliched sayings that God is good and will work everything out. That His ways are higher . . . that if we keep following Him, we’ll know His peace, in time.
These statements are all true, but in the moment of pain, I’m not sure any of these truths minister to a hurting heart. In the moment, sometimes the best thing we can do is not try to make it all better. Not say the perfect thing that will erase the pain.
Nothing erases some pain. And though God walks with us in the middle of our valleys, He doesn’t remove the pain from our lives.
Because God allows wrenching circumstances into our lives, does that mean He’s not good? That He’s left us because we committed some unknown wrong? Does it mean that He’s with us when life is good, but when it’s hard he says, “See ya on the other side!”? Does it mean God doesn’t care about us?
I believe God’s heart aches when His children walk through difficult seasons in life. He weeps with those who weep. Yet, He permits pain to do some hard, sculpting work in our hearts and lives.
Walking Through Hard Seasons
When we flounder in the center of those dark seasons, we always, always have a choice. We can get mad at God and turn away from Him, because He seems so unfair. Or, we can bring our tears—our brokenness—to Him, choosing faith, in the middle of the pain.
Choosing faith can cause us to feel helpless in the middle of the trial. It’s after time has passed and we’ve yielded our anger, our hurt, our confusion to our Father that we will be able to look back and see His fingerprints on the difficult seasons of our lives.
We will each face situations we simply cannot understand this side of heaven. Loved ones dying. Job loss. Diagnoses. Pain inflicted on us by others. The question we must grapple with is what will we do in response to the unanswered “Why?”
In When God Doesn’t Make Sense, author James Dobson reminds us that even having a strong faith doesn’t guarantee a happy life. Rather, faith almost assures that the world will abuse us. We may never see the purpose of struggles here on earth. But we can know that God does care, and He keeps His promises.
Does God Care?
Hard seasons are not a new phenomenon. From the time Cain killed Abel, to Joseph being imprisoned unfairly, to David being pursued by Saul for seven years, to prophets being murdered, straight down to this day, good people face painful seasons. God isn’t surprised by circumstances. He walked through them with each of these people.
When we’re in the middle of painful, impossible-to-understand situations, it’s easy to ask, “does God care?” we must remember our Father walks beside us through our trials.Does God Care When Painful Things Happen to Us? When we’re in the middle of painful, impossible-to-understand situations, it's easy to ask, does God care? we must remember He walks beside us through our trials #tellhisstory… Click To Tweet
Don’t mistake God’s seeming silence for Him not caring.Does God Care When Painful Things Happen to Us? Don’t mistake God’s seeming silence for Him not caring. #tellhisstory #doesgodcare #perspective Click To Tweet
Our Father cares about us and what we’re enduring. The book of Matthew tells us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Believing in Jesus doesn’t protect us from life’s storms. But it does ensure He walks through the rainy seasons with us.
We rarely control our circumstances. But we can control our response.
How should we respond when the question ‘Does God Care?’ comes to mind?
I want to deep dive into some of this next time. But here are a few things that will help us with our mindsets, even when the question, “Does God Care?” runs through our minds.
Remember God’s character
He is a good God, even when it seems like He’s allowing horrible things. Find Bible verses that remind us of who He is and write them on a card we carry with us. Read or/and memorize these verses for when our emotions are struggling with our reality.
Determine what we believe about God
Do we believe the Bible is true? Our answer makes all the difference in how we walk through difficult situations
Search the Bible for examples of others who have gone through similar circumstances
Learn from their example—either good or bad.
Don’t let our emotions influence our faith and what we believe
When we’re discouraged or depressed about our situation, we aren’t thinking clearly. This is why we must know what we believe and fall back onto that foundation when our emotions are revved.
When our sons were toddlers, there was a time when I had to restrain each of them so they could receive a life-saving shot. When the needle pierced the skin, they each glared at me through teary eyes, as if I’d betrayed them. Though I hated seeing them in pain, I knew the shots were something they needed.
Maybe that’s how God is with us. He sees the pain of our circumstances, but He also sees the benefits that will come afterward. Whatever else we believe in our painful seasons, let’s hold on to the truth that our heavenly Father does care. He loves us and walks with us through those times.
What about you? What have you learned about God’s character when it seemed like He was distant? Is there a verse you cling to when hard seasons come and God seems silent?
Most weeks, I link up with Grace and Truth, Anita Ojeda, Instaencouragements, and sometimes Let’s Have Coffee. Come join and read more encouraging posts!
Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.
Each week we gather here as storytellers, word weavers, and encouragers to make His name known. Our story is God’s story and this small corner of the blogging world, where we come together each Tuesday, needs you. This is a place where poetry, snapshots, prayers, and stories find a safe spot to nod in agreement that what we have to say matters. I am glad you are here and would love to have you join the #TellHisStory community. Add your own encouraging post through the link below. Spread some love by visiting your neighbor and leaving your own encouragement. Click here to read more about the #TellHisStory community and find a button to add to your site.Come share your story at the #TellHisStory #linkup. Connect and be encouraged by like-minded friends! #tellhisstory #linkup Click To Tweet
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Jeanne, “do I believe the Bible is true?” is such an important question. If we answer truthfully and the answer is no, that’s one thing. But if we answer yes, then there are things we can be sure of about God’s character, regardless of how we feel about our situation. And I understand about those baby shots, for sure! Lilly had to get a chest x-ray soon after we brought her home. As hard as it was to see her crying her head off in that plastic jar thing, we knew it was for her good. In the same way, God’s compassion surely overflows on us when He sees us struggling through the hard things that He ordains for our good. Wonderful post, my friend.
Hi Jean. You’re so right that often we shouldn’t head to those easy answers when someone is hurting! but how hard it is sometimes to see God’s hand in those times. I agree with Michelle that your shot metaphor is a great picture of God doing something in our lives, that we need , and yet like us parents, weeps and hates the pain those times must bring. Thank you for tackling the hard subjects, Jeanne!
Loving a good story, the old testament stories of God’s faithfulness always inspire me to keep my faith strong. His ways are unexpected but faithful. I hope your friend is doing better! It is important just to listen and not give advise when our loved ones are in distress, I find!
God sat beside my bed last night;
He must have thought I slept,
and I know I heard it right,
He bowed His head and wept
for all the things that cancer’s done,
and all it still will do,
and cried, “I couldn’t save My Son,
and dude, I can’t save you
from the fate that I ordained
when this sad world fell,
and just how might I have explained
that one day you’d face Hell,
not as some vain trial or test,
but because you are My best?’
Andrew, it’s kind of amazing how God has the big picture of our lives, isn’t it? He sees the hard situations we’ll face this side of heaven. And though it grieves God to see us walk through them, He knows the big picture and the plans that will come about for our good . . . for eternity and for the here and now. I’m so thankful for your words and your friendship. I’m praying for you and Barb.
We do always have a choice. And I love that scripture passage that reminds us to find our strength in Him and when we do, we go from one strength to another. Even our weaknesses become strength to us.
Lauren, Psalm 84 has brought me through many a trial. I love how God flips our weakness on its face when He redeems it.
Great post Jeanne! It is difficult to understand God’s plan & purpose for our lives at times. Especially when we’re hurting.
But often when we look back we can see His grace & hand upon the situation in ways we didn’t necessarily recognise in the thick if it.
Agreed, Jennifer. It is often difficult to see how God’s working in the middle of painful situations. But, when we look back, we see His presence with us in those dark days. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here.
Such an important topic, Jeanne! We too often throw in a quick Christian cliche, but they rarely help anyone in their moments of deep pain. When I’m in the pit, it helps me to remember God’s goodness and character, and especially if I can see that being mirrored in the person in front of me.
Lisa, thanks for your vulnerability. I, too, find it helpful to remember God’s goodness and character. May we all seek to be that person who mirrors His love to those around us.
Such a great post, Jeanne! “Don’t mistake God’s seeming silence for Him not caring.” That really resonated with me. I’ve been praying for a loved one for a very long time and I needed that reminder today. Thank you for sharing and thanks so much for hosting as well! 🙂
Tai, I bet many of us have loved ones we’ve prayed over for a long time. I’m so thankful God hears our prayers and our hearts and that He’s working in their lives and hearts in ways we can’t see. I’m so blessed you shared a piece of your story here today. Thanks for stopping by!
I have to go to the cross. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down His life for His friends.
Yes, Deb. Going to the cross. That visual of God’s indescribable love goes far in reminding us where to focus our thoughts.
Jeanne, remembering God’s attributes and recalling all the people in the bible who God loved and was using, and the not so very easy lives they all hard, helps me in hard times. No, spouting all things work to our good and similar verses has never helped me in tough times. First listen and acknowledge the tough time I am going through. Then later remind me of that verse.
Theresa, I’m so thankful God shared so many examples in the Bible. Seeing people who walked through difficult times, reading of others’ failures and later redemption, reading of how God interacted with His people is a powerful reminder that He loves His people . . . then and now. I’m with you . . . when I’m walking through a hard time, having someone speak platitudes to me in the moment of pain is never effective at comforting. But yes, oftentimes, when someone shares a well-known verse with me later, and shares it in love, I find it easier to receive the truth and reminder.
God cares about every moment of our lives. Through good times and bad times, we can find comfort knowing He is with us.
Melissa, I’m so glad God cares about every moment of our lives, both the good and the painful. I, too, find comfort in knowing He is always with us.
Jeanne, such good reminders to focus on God’s goodness rather than our circumstances. As you mentioned God’s people walking hard paths is not “new”, since the fall of man we travel the road of suffering. Avoiding reliance on fickle emotions and the enemy’s lies help us get our focus squarely on a God who loves us enough to die for us “while we were yet sinners, and his enemies”. If he spared not His only Son but gave him up for us all how will he not with him also freely give us all things?
Donna, I so appreciate how you put everything into perspective. God loves us enough to allow His only Son to die so we can be with Him. Even when we couldn’t appreciate the sacrifice, God still made it. Thanks for these reminders!
Praising God for the way His character, His Word, His faithfulness sustain us. For sure, our feelings are fickle and so very transient. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Our Father is worthy of praise, even when He permits painful seasons to come into our lives. So true, Linda. Our feelings are very fickle! It seems like it’s taken me decades to move beyond being controlled by them. I’m so thankful Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
🙂 Our littlest granddaughter went to the dr. last week and still has not stopped talking about how “the dr. shot me”. Remembering God’s character helps me to know how deeply He cares for me. Also remembering how He has brought me through circumstances in the past show me His faithfulness as well. We just need to remember 🙂
Joanne, like you, I’ve found that remembering God’s character helps me remember how deeply He cares for me. And yes, looking back on previous times when He’s walked with us through painful seasons is that truth we build our faith on in the present circumstance. He is always faithful. Sometimes, we must choose to remember that.
Shots traumatized one of my sons too.
“Remember” has been a reoccurring theme–in recent conversations, in Sunday’s sermon, and now here.I appreciate it when I run across it because I know it isn’t usually what I don’t know that gets me into trouble; it’s what I don’t remember. Thanks for this good reminder.
Natalie, God has been giving me truths to remember too. Even when we’ve walked with Him for a long time, we have to choose to remember who He is and that He’s always with us. When God brings the same point across in different ways, I know it’s time to pause and see what He’s showing me. Thanks for stopping by!
I think your photos illustrate the answer 😊. At first, hard times look like a wild tangle of an impassible canyon. But as we search scriptures, a path becomes clear. As we follow the path, grace notes of beauty surprise us on the hard journey. There is Light, even in the narrowest passages, at some point every day. God with us. When others go through dark times, we can scramble down to walk with them through the canyons—not to tell them the way or preach at them, but to make sure we reflect the Light.
Awww, thanks, Anita. I love that you picked up on that progression. I confess I didn’t entirely plan that out. Sometimes, it’s just how God directs us, isn’t it? 🙂 You’re right. God’s light is even in the narrowest passages we walk through in our days. You’re right. We have the privilege of walking with others through canyons, to walk alongside, not always to “help” them through sermons or telling them how to get through it. God is the best at that. I love your thoughts here, friend.
Remembering God’s character is one of the biggest things that helps me. Even though the circumstances are bad, He allows them for good. As Joni Eareckson Tada so often says, God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves. Isaiah 43:2 also helps: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Not “if,” but “when.”
Barbara, I really like that quote by Joni Eareckson Tada. And yes, Isaiah 43:2 is a great verse to hold onto in hard seasons. And yes, it’s definitely WHEN, not IF those difficult seasons will come into our lives. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here, Barbara!
Great metaphor for the times God holds us down for “the shot.” Reminds me of C.S Lewis’s ponderings in A Grief Observed.
Michele, I haven’t read that book yet, but it’s on my list. I’m thankful God is with us, even when He allows painful things into our lives.