Q: This year has been intensely hard, with me not having a steady income due to the economy. I am so worn out on waiting for God’s plan. Where is He?
A: Allow me to address your concerns about God’s presence and faithfulness, and the struggle with discouragement.
First of all, circumstances are never a reliable indicator of the presence of God. Second, it is natural to ask, “Where is God?” when there seems, from our point of view, to be no action by the Lord on our behalf.
The book of Psalms is filled with questions like that one. In fact, the Psalms are all about people being honest with God regarding how they feel and yet clinging to trust, and choosing to praise Him, even without circumstances being changed.
I think about David, whom Samuel had anointed king at God’s instruction, spending years running from the homicidally jealous Saul and working through the same questions you are asking. In 1 Samuel 30, when the Amalekites raided Ziklag while David and his men were gone and took everything and everyone, David and his men were really upset—but the people blamed David for what had happened.
David could have just walked away or blamed someone else. Instead, we are told that he “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (v. 6, NKJV). Next, he took time to inquire of the Lord. Then he set off to obey God, and God gave him the victory.
The enemy of our souls wants us to be discouraged and quit or to take things into our own hands. Yet I find comfort in David’s process that we see here and in many Psalms. His story serves as a great example of how we can best handle times of questioning.
As David did, take your emotions and questions directly to the Lord in openness and honesty (see v. 4). Be real with Him; yet process those emotions through His revealed character (Ps. 37-43; 142-143).
Ask the Lord to search you and see if there is anything in you that needs to be repented of and surrendered to Him, and then do so (Ps. 139:23-24). Adverse circumstances are not necessarily the result of personal sin, but it is wise to cover our bases and remove anything that might hinder us from receiving God’s blessing.
Strengthen and encourage yourself in the Lord by focusing on His character and promises. Great strength comes from trusting that God knows how all the pieces of our lives will fit together in such a way that He will be glorified and we will be ultimately fulfilled.
Sometimes the victory we win is not measured by forward progress, but by simply not quitting (2 Sam. 23:9-12). By the way, the verse in Philippians that says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (4:13) is written specifically in the context of Paul’s financial need!
Inquire of the Lord and then do what He says with boldness and courage (1 Sam. 30:8), trusting that He will bring the victory—at just the right time. It is true that God’s timing often does not match up with our timetable, and yet who is in a better position to see the big picture? Sometimes it helps to get godly council along the way to make sure we are hearing form the Lord correctly (vv. 7-8).
Finally, I would caution you that our human senses are not dependable in determining God’s presence, and our human reasoning is not sufficient at times to make sense of God’s timing. David’s whole ordeal took years before he became king of all Israel in fulfillment to the anointing he had received.
Did he have questions? Absolutely! Did he trust God? Absolutely! Do you need to walk through this on your own? Absolutely not!
May you experience the presence and love of God today and be encouraged to live it for Him!
Greg Dueker is an ordained Foursquare minister and member of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Ore. This “Your Questions” is adapted from an article by Greg that appears on “Bible Answers From Beaverton Foursquare,” a church blog to which Greg regularly contributes.