Tough times often prompt us to question the love of God. Very real difficulties and hardships seem at sharp odds with God’s promises to love us forever.
In this way, we have a lot more in common with the writers of the Bible than we sometimes think. When the psalmist found himself in terrible trouble, he cried out, “Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:8-9). We all ask these painful questions at some point, usually when adversity hits, calamity arrives, or tragedy strikes.
“I am weary with my crying,” David wrote, “my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (Psalm 69:3).
“My eyes fail from searching Your word,” said the psalmist, “saying, ‘When will You comfort me?’” (Psalm 119:82).
He again pleaded with God, “Deal with Your servant according to Your mercy” (Psalm 119:124).
When you find yourself in some great distress and God seems far from your troubles, do not give up on His love. Pray as David did: “Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands” (Psalm 138:8). David knew his share of hard times and he didn’t always respond as a mature man of God should have. Like some of us at times, he wondered whether God cared at all. But eventually, he always remembered the truth; and once he did, he prayed like this:
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your maidservant (Psalm 86:15-16).
David did not come to God saying, “Help me because I am holy.” He came to God on the only right basis; that is, on the foundation of God’s eternal love and abundant mercy.
When trouble overwhelms you, don’t come to God on the basis of your holiness, righteousness, or goodness. You might get what you deserve! Instead, come to God on the basis of His compassion, grace, mercy, truth and longsuffering.
So often we misunderstand the nature of God, especially when we feel emotionally overwhelmed. We focus on the God of wrath, vengeance, and justice—and we forget that He shows that side of His character to those who hate Him, to those who oppose Him. But to those who love Him, to those who call humbly upon His name, He displays His mercy, His grace, and His love. He is longsuffering, tender, kind, and good to all those who willingly submit their wills to His own.
So the question is, how shall we respond when we face difficulties of various kinds? When tough times come and it seems we search in vain for the love of God, what then? This is what the psalmist did when he realized that his troubles threatened to shake his confidence in God’s love: And I said, “This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds (Psalm 77:10-12).
Despite our feelings, God’s love for us does not waver, fluctuate, or ebb and flow. His Word declares the truth: that He loves us with an everlasting love. And when our troubles multiply, we must continue to find our rest in the loving arms of God.
- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith