Trouble causes us to feel alone, even as the Psalmist bewailed the sense of orphanage that resulted from his difficulties.
“Why standest Thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1).
The same David, however, unequivocally declared God to be more than near in times of trouble.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Which is it? Afar off, or very present? The answer is both, that is, trouble causes us to feel as if our Lord is a trillion miles away. The truth, however, is that God draws closer to His trusting children when we hurt than at any other time. The Apostle Paul wrote that the Lord “comforteth us in all our tribulation,” meaning that from the beginning of trouble, our Heavenly Father is on the scene with help and balm (II Corinthians 1:4). Indeed, the heart of God draws near to the need of man by the magnetism of an unfathomable grace and mercy.
Again, however, we initially do not feel it. Emotions, thoughts, and even physical sensations tell us that God has hidden Himself, and rather than being “very present,” He seems very far away. This challenge calls us to trust His Word at times when such faith seems especially difficult. We must “endure, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). We open the eyes of our heart to behold that “the Light shineth in darkness” (John 1:5). We make a choice, against all the world, the devil and the flesh throw against us, to believe the Lord’s promise of His keeping, comforting and providing presence. “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” (Psalm 56:3).
In a lifetime wherein trouble comes “as the sparks fly upward,” we must expect much opportunity to offer prayers of faith flying upward to the throne of God (Job 5:7). “Trouble’s sure!” wrote the poet Housman. Even more, the “faith… once delivered unto the saints” works surely in the saints by the Holy Spirit’s quiet moving to draw us unto trust (Jude 1:3). Contrary feelings offer the chance to walk in conscious faith. The challenge is great, but never is the trusting heart more vibrantly alive than those times when it must arise to decisively affirm, “I will trust in Thee!” Or, as the prophet and the apostle unite to proclaim…
“The just shall live by faith.”
(Habbakuk 2:4; Romans 1:17)