During tough times, well-meaning friends often quote inspirational sayings and stories, like the one found on the popular picture of Footprints in the Sand.
The picture describes how there were two sets of footprints, and then there was a long stretch of just one set of footsteps. It appears that God has abandoned the writer, when really it was through these tough times that He carried him.
The Footprints picture and poem are nice sentiments, but in reality, when truly tough times come, it often feels as though God has turned His back completely. You long to feel those arms that promise to carry you through. You cry out, like the Psalmist David, trying to find that safe place in God, where He will carry you through tough times:
My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. —Psalms 55:4, KJV
The one who wrote these words felt as though God had turned His back on his needs. However, he enters into pleading with God, when he begs:
Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not thyself from my supplication. —Psalms 55:1, KJV
God responds to His children during tough times. Like the parental stirrings that come from a cry of a newborn baby, or a child in distress, God steps in to bring relief.
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. —Psalms 34:17, KJV
He reaches down and not only cradles, but lifts up those He loves. He declares that it is His arms that sustain and hold you:
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms … —Deuteronomy 33:27a, KJV
Often, the struggle is made worse by a desire to understand. Many times, there is no logical answer as to why believers suffer or why one suffers more or less than another.
It is human nature to focus on asking, “Why me?” or to become angry or hopeless, or to feel abandoned or even punished. It is during these times that it is all the more important to Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. —Proverbs 3:5, KJV
Still, the promise remains:
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord they God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour … —Isaiah 43:1-2a, KJV
Fear not: for I am with thee… —Isaiah 43:4b, KJV
No matter how far off God seems at the moment of trial, He promises peace to believers.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7, KJV
As with other aspects within a walk of faith, receiving peace in the midst of trials requires trusting and fixing hope on the Living God. The Apostle Peter uses a bit of his fisherman jargon, as he describes the act of trust as “casting” cares:
Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you. —1 Peter 5:7, KJV
The good news is that, if you stay faithful, your present day trials have a happy ending. God promises that He is working through your tough times to carry you to the victorious end result, which is a happily-ever-after style ending of good results. This promise was stated in Jeremiah and revisited in the words of the Apostle Paul, in Romans:
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. —Jeremiah 29:11, KJV
Some other versions of this Scripture refer to the “expected end” as a “hope” and a “future.”
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28, KJV