I don’t know about you, but I don’t like going through hardships and difficulties. If I had a magic button that I could push to make all bad things go away, I certainly would use it. Sadly, no such button exists–at least not that I’ve found.
So often, I want God to rescue me from my struggles. “Just make it go away, God!” (Seriously, I’ve prayed this prayer.) After all, isn’t that why I’m a Christian, so I can avoid hardships?! Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what the Bible says. John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (NLT, emphasis mine).
So what’s the point? I’m learning that hardships and suffering are permitted in our lives for a number of reasons. One of them is to draw us closer to God. (They’re also used to refine us. But that’s a post for another day.) As I’ve walked through my own brand of suffering, God has faithfully reminded me that He is with me. While I know and firmly believe He can swoop in and “make it all go away,” I believe He is giving me something greater–His presence.
Isaiah 43:2-3 says, “When you go through the deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through the rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (NLT, emphasis mine). I love the realness of this verse. It’s basically saying, “Look, you’re gonna go through some really hard stuff. But I will be with you and these things will not overtake you!”
Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I hold your right hand–I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you'” (NLT). This has been a particularly comforting verse for me. Envisioning the God of the Universe holding my hand–like a father holds his daughter’s hand–has allowed me to walk through things I never thought I could face.
There are so many other verses that promise God’s presence. Here are a few of my favorites:
- “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
- “This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT
- “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
While I still want the bad stuff to go away, I’m learning to pray as Moses did: “… If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place” (Exodus 33:15 NLT).