But sometimes we don't get immediate answers. We go many years without an answer to our prayers. And it is difficult to believe everything will be okay because everything is falling apart. Sometimes it is difficult to have any happiness or joy because of non-stop suffering.
We never know what kind of year we will have from one to the next. Sometimes we don't know how we will get through another day let alone another week.
Life can be like that.
Where is God when we feel alone, misunderstood, unwanted, or insignificant? Where is God when we don't receive answers to fervent prayer and an obedient life to Him?
Does God see our tears during those times? Does He care about the pain in our broken hearts? Does He understand our fears and discouragements?
Why does God wait so long to provide relief? Any relief?
When I ask myself these questions I often think of Naomi and Ruth. Talk about two lonely, at the end of their rope, Christians! They were trying to live lives that honored God. They were trying not to look back at what they lost and trying not to look too far ahead because they could barely get through today.
Naomi and Ruth lost people they loved. They lost their homes, literally. They had to move without any help. They had to let go of a lot of things they once had.
I think that is one of the first keys to painful life struggles... letting go. It can be so difficult to let go of feelings that stem from our past. It can be difficult letting go of all the things we place great importance in.
Once Naomi and Ruth let go they found themselves in a sort of free fall in life. They were entering circumstances that were completely unknown and unwanted by them. And they were poor. They were in serious need. They had to accept their new reality.
That is another key to struggles... accepting your reality. This is, often times, not a fun thing to do. You lost your job or your health or both, your car died, your dog died, your loved one passed away. To move onward in life we have to accept where we are and be honest about our needs. And it is just as important to understand that there is no shame in having needs.
Naomi and Ruth didn't waste time twiddling their thumbs. They started doing whatever they could do, always keeping an eye out for better opportunities. They kept themselves busy rather than complaining, gossiping, and being a nuisance to everyone around them.
Good work is not only the kind we do for living but also what we do for others. And we are encouraged in Hebrews 12:1 to " run the race." We must exercise endurance and not give up.
But even when Naomi and Ruth were doing so much they were trusting in God. They put their hope and their very lives in God's hands and stopped worrying. What would be, would be. Worrying is just a waste of energy.
That is a fourth key... trusting God even when you can't see how things will get better. When we feel down we have to remember God's character. He is faithful. He can be trusted with our futures just as He could be trusted with our past.
I may not be Ruth or Naomi but God is teaching me too how to trust Him through uncertainty.
I began thinking about this post because of a short trip I took earlier today and the consequent feelings I had to wrestle with.
I spent a good while in the store perusing all the cute baby things and thinking about all the new lives I have celebrated and all the people I know who have formed new families. And while I am so thrilled to see their happiness and to see how God answered their prayers there is a part of me that hurts.
It is so easy for me to have faith God will answer my prayers for others in this matter but when it comes to myself... I struggle. This desire to marry and have children is relatively new for me. I've been a late bloomer my whole life so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. :) But it has taken me by surprise to realize that I have a spirit of unbelief in this matter. God, in His graciousness, is being very patient with me.
But despite the bitter sweet happiness I experience I still believe God is faithful and loving! And in His eyes it doesn't matter whether or not I am single, married, rich, poor, young or old. He has and always will see me as a precious and desirable woman to know.
And this truth hit me suddenly as I was practicing my swimming strokes in the pool. I had been working really hard to keep my head above the water but when I finally allowed my face to remain in the water it was so much easier to move around!
And I had been so afraid to just glide forward and lift my feet up and let the water carry me. Every time I took a deep breath and went in I was fine. I never drowned. I could have faith that the water would carry me.
That is what it is like to trust God even when life hurts. We can be scared. We can believe all kinds of things that are untrue about ourselves and our situations. It is only when we choose to trust God anyway and allow ourselves to be surrounded by His presence that we finally experience peace. And we even gain a healthy self confidence.
Naomi and Ruth did that. They chose to trust Him and obey Him anyway. That is what I am learning to do. And I believe this is a lesson we all have to face, over and over again at different stages of life. God gives us grace for our moments of weakness. He takes us in His arms and carries us until we're safely on the other side.
Blessings to you.