This week was an interesting one for me. I had the opportunity to talk to a man (Chuck) that has been going through a really hard time in his life. For whatever reason our paths crossed and we just started talking and he shared that he felt like everything around him was crashing down. He wondered where God was and why would He allow a believer to go through all that he had gone through. He felt alone.
I let him talk.
From my personal experience, I feel that we all need the time to vent. I know when I was going through my darkest times all I really wanted was to say it out loud. I did not want sermons or advice, nor did I want someone to tell me they were praying for me. What I wanted and needed was someone just to let me say it out loud. Even though I was my own worst enemy and created my own problems, I needed to verbally express my frustration with my situation. I was not blaming God, I just wanted to say it without the judgment of other believers.
Chuck was no different, he had been experiencing a bit of the dark deep void that Christians occasionally face. This isn’t the first time that he had been through a period of what felt like he was totally alone.
We all have been there, you know what I mean, you can’t concentrate when you read or study the Word, the music that lifted you up or quieted your soul either irritates you or leaves you feeling numb, verses that you know by heart and depend upon to comfort you seemed to have been erased from your memory. And your prayer life? What prayer life? You stumble and stutter, get so sleepy, too busy, hit the wall and “bounce prayers off the ceiling”. That is the picture of Chuck’s life for the past few weeks…we have all been there too.
In the past, when this would happen to me, I would be rather frantic trying to figure out why this was happening. I would be angry and start railing at God for “forsaking” me. Sometimes I would even profess that I was giving up!
I am thankful that I made it through those times. I did not have anyone to verbally say it out loud too. So I would drive in my car, miles and miles of driving. Radio off and at times, me screaming at the top of my lungs of my frustrations and my pain. My Christian friends were not there. But I did not do it alone. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother…and although I was always taught that I needed to be reverent when I prayed, I’ve learned that sometimes prayers can be done in different ways. In my times of frustration and loneliness, when I thought all was lost and there was no one there, I cried out to God and He was listening all the time.
In times of struggle and frustration, it is okay to question. It’s okay to cry out. You do not have to always understand why you are going through hard times. You don’t always have to feel happy about the way your life is going. Your salvation is not dependent on your feelings. Hard times do not equal displeasure from God.
So I let Chuck vent and get the burden off his chest. He was doing a good job at expressing his feelings about things. In the middle of a particularly rough segment, I started to see some of the stress leave his face and heard some relief in his voice. He suddenly stopped talking. He realized that he had gone on for 10 minutes and I did not say a word.
And Chuck said ” What am I supposed to do?”
I wanted to make sure that I didn’t fall into the Christian clichés I had heard all my life. While they may be true on some levels…these kind of statements don’t always help in times of real trouble. They come across as real impersonal.
- “Just pray about it…”
- “I’m praying for you…”
- “You just need to ask for forgiveness…”
- “You have un-confessed sin in your life…”
- “I feel sorry for you…”
- “Jesus loves you…”
- “You’re running away from God…”
I am sure that there are many more that could be added to the list. Again, all of these responses have their place. They are indeed true when applied correctly. Unfortunately, I have seen these used in the wrong manner and at the worst times.
I thought for a moment and I tried to remember what would have helped me when I was going through similar things. Only one thing came to mind, I said…
“Hold on…hold on to your faith…even when God doesn’t make sense. It will be okay, just hold on to your trust in God! “
I waited for a second to see his reaction. I began to see the edges of his mouth slowly move and he started to smile. He looked at me and said that this was the first time someone did not try to convince him that he was so full of sin and that he should question his salvation because he did not understand why God would allow him to go through hard times.
Hold on. That is all, just hold on to your faith and your trust in God.
Hold on when you can’t see the end of trouble, hold on when you cannot hear God’s small voice and hold on when you do not feel like God is there at all. The lesson learned for all of us is that God is holding on to us even when we don’t feel His arms around us.
Instead of me just telling him to just pray about it, I was able to help him see that God allows us all to go through things in our life that we don’t understand. It is part of the “testing” of our faith. This “testing” does not always mean you are in sin. There are reasons why God allows it. Sometimes in life we see clearly why, in other times, we will never really know until we get to heaven. The bottom line is that God wants us to remain faithful and holding onto to our faith regardless of the situation in our life.
If you are struggling with hard times. Times where you feel so far away from God. Reach out and just hold on. Remain faithful. Determine to stay the course. You can trust that our Lord will take you through the deepest, darkest, loneliest times. Just Hold On.
May you be blessed abundantly today and every day.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”