Because for a child of God, even suffering has its merit.
I remember as a child, there was this Christian poem mounted on the wall of our old house, Footprints. The picture shows two sets of footprints in the sand: one is God’s footprints, and the other is that of a man. The scene depicts God as our staunchest Ally, Helper, and Companion in times of need and distress.
However, there came a time when only one set of footprints was visible on the sand. Thus, the man felt abandoned by God, so he asked the enduring question that has stirred the minds of God’s faithful servants since ancient times: Why does God seem distant when we need Him the most?
Here is the allegorical Christian poem:
One night I had a dream
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me and one to the Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."
Does God Hate Me?
We sometimes feel God hates us when things don’t go our way. We often wonder why life’s tumultuous storms persist without any signs of abating. Thus, we couldn’t help but feel abandoned. God seems distant, oblivious, or indifferent to our suffering.
Those seemingly endless days of pleading with God for mercy, begging Him to give you a respite from all your troubles, seem to fall on deaf ears.
Like many Christians, I have also experienced the profound depths of life's insufferable grief and anguish; the kind of pain that’s akin to a heavy shadow that refuses to dissipate for months on end. And for some of us, adversities can unfold in a continuous stream. Thus, we find ourselves doubting God’s steadfast love, mercy, and compassion despite being intimately acquainted with Him.
It is then no wonder that some can’t help but ask the question, “Does God hate me?” whenever they grapple with the sheer magnitude of their life’s excruciating torment.
As human beings, we are naturally predisposed to measuring God’s love by the myriad of blessings He bestows upon us, instead of recognizing how often He stays on our side when the chips are down and life becomes unbearable.
In the midst of our suffering, we tend to forget that God’s most faithful servants from antiquity to the present day are never shielded from the deep anguish of life’s trials. If you were to read the Bible, we evidently don’t lack a shortage of God’s servants experiencing intense tribulations. We must not then consider it as a dearth of affection on God’s part when our prayers are left unanswered as we traverse life’s difficult challenges.
The Gift of Suffering
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.” —C. S. Lewis
Suffering is an integral part of our Christian life. Even Jesus Himself was not spared of suffering.
“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:3
Whenever you feel that God has abandoned you, remember Jesus on the cross when He said, "My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Psalm 22
I sometimes feel that Jesus let out that cry as a way of letting us know that even in the grip of searing tribulations, when we feel that God has forsaken us, God is still with us—even if that doesn't seem to be the case at first glance.
We know that God the Father never forsook Him. It may have looked that way on the surface, but in reality, it's quite the opposite. The Father suffered with Him.
We must remember that the anguish and suffering a parent feels when his child is in dire pain is amplified one hundredfold. The Father spared Abraham the torturous pain of killing Isaac, and yet He did not spare Himself the agonizing torment of sacrificing His only begotten Son to a horrible death in order to save us from our transgressions.
That’s how much we are worth in God's eyes. We must never then consider ourselves as anything less nor are we hated by God when we go through intense trials.
God Does Not Hate You
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)
Whenever the enemy tries to convince you that God despises you, stand in the light of God’s truth. The enemy will attempt to sow seeds of lies and doubt in your heart as a way of snatching you away from God’s protective light—inciting you to hold grudges against God so that you may rebel against Him.
Thus, it is when doubt starts to cloud our minds that we need to cling to God all the more, demonstrating our steadfast devotion towards our Maker even in the midst of our suffering.
Verses for When You Feel God Hates You
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Psalms 8:3-4 (KJV)
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
“'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10
“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Instead of asking if God hates us when we’re going through tribulations, we must ask God for wisdom to understand His higher purpose behind our suffering. By doing so, we will not easily be enticed by the lies of the wicked one. We will remain persistent in our walk with the Lord, knowing that our trials will bear good fruits when the time is right.
God Does Not Waste Your Suffering
If you are a follower of Christ, rest assured that your suffering will never be in vain. God can transform your life's bleakest hours into something remarkably beautiful in His perfect time. Victory is already ours if we only abide in Him and continue to trust Him even as we find ourselves immersed in the depths of agonizing sorrows and afflictions.
We should never allow our suffering to blur our understanding of the deep affection God holds for us. Because for a child of God, even suffering has its merit. Suffering can be a gift, a blessing in disguise for those whose hope is in the Lord.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Marjan Apostolovic