A wayward child. The loss of a job. A dissolved marriage. An unexpected death.
Tragedies in this fallen world are commonplace. It seems we hear about them so often that we become desensitized to how awful they are—until one lands on our doorstep.
These past few years my wife Alice and I have experienced some trials that we hoped we’d never have to experience. Perhaps that’s where you find yourself today.
How does God sustain His children when life caves in on them?
The good news is that we can rest assured that God will sustain us. He never abandons His children. And He hears and responds to every cry for help.
So, what are some of the ways God sustains His children in distressing times?
The spoken Word of God
I've felt God's sustaining power in sermons from pastors I know, as well as from other trusted pastors whose sermons are online. How kind of God to allow us to live in a day when, at the click of a mouse, we can listen to His Word preached by pastors around the globe.
In the tough times, it’s vitally important that we stay nourished on spiritual food, and sermons are an outstanding help in that respect. The caution, of course, is to make sure you look to men you know or who have been recommended to you.
Andrew Davies, a seasoned pastor from Wales, has been a tremendous help to me. You might remember him from AFA's Behold Your God study. In a message titled The One Who Cares, he preaches from I Peter 5:6-7 about dealing with anxiety:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
The Rev. Davies exhorts believers to embrace God’s sovereign control over every area of their lives.
The written Word of God
As helpful as sermons are, nothing can take the place of us going directly to the Bible to fill ourselves with the God-inspired truths that await us there.
I grew up not far from Grenada Lake in Central Mississippi. In the winter the water receded, exposing more of the beach. It wasn’t unusual to see people with metal detectors combing the sand looking for “treasures.” They methodically searched for coins, rings, watches, anything of value.
If these are difficult days for you, open the Bible and prayerfully search for those spiritual treasures that God has placed there for His hurting children. Those promises were put there to strengthen you the same way they’ve strengthened scores of believers down through the ages.
Hudson Taylor, that faithful missionary to China, said, “There is a living God. He has spoken in the Bible. He means what He says and will do all that He has promised.”
Isaiah 41:10 is a verse that has been a tremendous encouragement to me. God says:
[F]ear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
This verse gives us a peek into God's heart for His children—for you if you’re a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows when we're afraid and weak. And His response is to promise us that He is with us, not as just an observer but as One who comes to strengthen and uphold us.
Then there’s Psalm 62:8:
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
I take great comfort in that little word "all." He wants me to trust Him at all times. There's no loophole. No situation where I can say, "Well, maybe I can't trust Him regarding this." No, He wants me—and you—to trust Him at all times.
It is an incredible help to position these promises between us and the heart-crushing events of life.
And finally, find hope in Psalm 34:17-19:
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
I'm so thankful for the ways God has used His Word—spoken and written—to sustain me. And I’m encouraged to know that He is a God who will sustain you during your difficult days.