A few years ago I read through the entire book of Psalms. I hit Psalm 13 and it hit back. I was in the middle of a very hard time, and I was pretty stressed. I was quickly reaching my limits and I knew it. Then I read the first verse of Psalm 13.

“Oh Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?”

I instantly connected with those words. That’s exactly how I was feeling at the time. I’d prayed and waited and prayed and waited and felt like I got nothing in return. No answers, no direction, no help, no hope.

“How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. You’ve been there too, I’d be willing to bet. Nearing the end of your rope, if you weren’t there already. Ready to give up. Not knowing where to turn, not knowing what to do. It’s the most difficult feeling in life. It’s the most painful feeling. Especially when you want to trust God and rely on Him, but you’re just not seeing answers to your prayers.

I read a quote last week that is very powerful. Abhijeet Lall, a missionary in India, said,

“God didn’t save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego FROM the fire. He saved them IN the fire. God didn’t save Daniel FROM the lions’ den, He saved him IN the lion’s den. God didn’t save Joseph FROM slavery, He saved him IN slavery. God doesn’t always save us from something. Sometimes He waits until we step into the fire to do something incredible through us.”

So true. Over and over we read about times where God waited. I think of Lazarus. Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead and in the tomb before He showed up. Why? That’s the question we must answer. Why does God wait? If the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 is true, that God has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future,” then why is it so often that we go through times that make us doubt that?

Simple. Because God often waits to rescue us until things have become so desperate and impossible that, when we are rescued, we can’t take glory. He waits until the only possible explanation for our rescue is that God came through. So that people can’t point to human reason or process, but only to God’s mercy. Once Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in the fire, only God could save them. Once Daniel was in the lions’ den, only God could save him. Once Jonah was in the belly of the fish, only God could save him. Once Lazarus was dead, only God could save him. Only God could give him life.

God waits so that people will know, when they see the incredible things that happen in our lives, that it’s God at work. That means we go through hard times for a while, but it’s through that process that our faith is built and that it becomes authentic and refined. After all, the Bible says that we are refined IN the fire. These times mold us into the people we are created to be. We reach our potential and further assume the image of God through difficult situations in our lives.

While that is a simple answer, it’s not an easy one. It’s very hard. It feels hopeless, confusing, frustrating, and sad. David knew this. That’s why, at the end of Psalm 13, he wrote,

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praises, for he has been good to me.”

If you’re going through a hard time today, be encouraged. God isn’t done with you. He hasn’t left or given up. The harder things get, the more impossible they feel, the more God is at work in your life to be something incredible. Take heart.

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If you’re going through a hard time, I would love to pray for you. Please feel free to either leave a comment or email me directly at jimmy@jimmymcloud.com and tell me how I can pray for you.