Where is God when life seems unfair? My friend, Patricia, was wondering just that. "My husband is living with some woman in Palm Springs," Patricia told me bitterly. "He doesn't seem to have a care in the world. In the meantime, I'm struggling to make ends meet for me and the kids."
My heart went out to her. It wasn't fair that she was struggling under this burden alone, while her husband of 30 years - after leaving his family and living for himself - seemed to be better off. Or was he?
The situation didn't seem just. Where was God? And why didn't He seem to care?
My conversation with Patricia got me thinking about God's ways and how situations are not always as they seem. And it brought to mind a principle from Scripture, written by David, a man who was promised the kingdom of Israel but waited years before God handed it to him. A man who was upright in his ways and yet waited on God's timing to bless him. A man, anointed king, who slept in caves, and was hunted for years like a wild beast because the current king was insanely jealous of him and wanted him dead.
That man, in his humility, wrote: "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked" (Psalms 84:10).
King Saul was dwelling richly…in kingly tents. David was sleeping on the hard, rocky ground, probably in caves. King Saul was eating whatever his heart desired. David was skimping, catching his own food, living off the land. It wasn't fair. It didn't seem like justice. Yet the rightful king said, in so many words, "I would rather live simply, and without much, being close to my God, than have it all out there on my own."
You may feel you are living simply, skimping and barely getting by. While someone else - who seems to have no regard for God - is living high on the hog! But God sees your heart. And if you are truly bent on being obedient to Him, even during tough times when things don't seem fair, He will raise you up at the right time…perhaps even into the king's palace, in a manner of speaking.
James 4:10 tells us: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." In another translation that reads "Be humble in the Lord's presence, and he will honor you" (CEV). And 1 Peter 5:6 tells us "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
Is there anxiety in seeing someone else prosper when it feels like we're being overlooked? Oh, yes. That's probably why God addressed the issue of anxiety right after telling us to humble ourselves. And did you catch when God will lift us up? In due time. There is a timing factor to all that we go through in life. If we are humbling ourselves and God is not exalting us, our time hasn't yet come.
Trust Him. Wait on Him, not your circumstance. And cast all your anxiety on Him. Why? Because He cares for you.
Keep holding that door for the Lord. Keep doing the small things in His presence and with a joyful heart. Keep providing for your children the way you do. And keep a pure heart. As you do, delight in the fact that you are living simply. The Bible says it's better than having a big shot position in the world without Him.
I remember a poster on one of the walls of my home as I was growing up. It said: "I'd rather walk with my God in the dark of night than go it alone in the day."
That became the slogan that my friend adopted during the rough nights of feeling lost and forgotten while her ex-husband appeared to be prospering. But she found, in due time, that the joy and peace that came from being obedient to the Lord, and waiting on Him for His provision, surpassed any temporary luxuries that she might have enjoyed without Him.
Can that be your motto as well? I hope you can truly say, as the would-be-king David said: "I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin" (Psalm 84:10b, the Message) If your desire is to please Him, He will pour it on…in due time.
Here are some principles to keep in mind as you go through this "dark" time of feeling forgotten.
• Realize that God sees it all. Nothing slips past Him. Scripture says "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).
• Rejoice -- even when there doesn't seem to be a reason. This gets God's attention. Second Thessalonians 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." There is no better way to show God a surrendered heart than to be thankful, even when life isn't going well.
• Remember that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). We need God's grace when we look around and see people who aren't living right and seem to have everything they need. God's grace will help us say "They may have everything, but they don't have You, Lord, and You are my greatest treasure."
As you go through difficult times and trust God in spite of it all, my prayer is that you will be able to say what David said, as he saw God's protection and provision: "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless" (Psalms 84:11).
March 4, 2010
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books, including ‘Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs' and ‘When Women Walk Alone: A 31-Day Devotional Companion,' from which this article was adapted. For more on her ministry, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.