In times of trouble and sorrow, it's easy to feel abandoned.
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"—Psalms 22:1
It's easy to praise God when things are good and there is plenty. But, in situations of trial and heartache, it's even more important to stick with God.
A famous example is Job when he has everything taken from him: his things, his friends, his family. His wife tells him in Job 2:9 he should "curse God, and die." However, Job responds in such a way as to remove any doubt of how he feels about his turn of fortune.
"Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"—Job 2:10
It's necessary to understand that with good comes bad. Rabbi Lazer Gurkow talks on Chabad.org about how life has peaks and valleys. "It is often in the valley that we discover the light." It is when things are the lowest that "it is a relief to learn that it is okay to ask for help." This help can come from God or those who are His helpers.
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."—2 Cor. 12:10
Tragedy and misery are times for building. Questioning God in times of great adversity is normal, but to give up on Him is to give up on the grand purpose.
"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." —Prov. 24:10
God has commanded His people to be strong.
"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." —Joshua 1:9
How do you tell if God is near and how do you stick by Him? The following 3 ways may help.
One of the first and most important things you can do is pray. 18th-century poet and hymn writer William Cowper said, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees." Prayer is communication and not just one-way. Is it fair to doubt God is there if talking to Him hasn't been tried?
Another way is to look for His works in your life. Something wonderful happens and so many believe it is just coincidence. However, the origin of the word coincidence comes from synkyrian, which is a combination of two words: sunand kurios. Sun means "together with," and kurious means "supreme in authority." So, the word itself means something done with God's influence. It is so easy to forget how much He does in our lives and believe it is all chance and not design.
In the movie The Santa Clause, there is a quote from one of the elves to Scott Calvin who is having a hard time believing in Santa and the North Pole. "Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing." How often is something miraculous seen or felt but explained away?
"Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?" —Mark 8:18
Lastly, look to see God's presence or help in the form of others. There is the well-known story of the rowboat. A religious man is stuck in a flood and goes to his roof to pray for help. He gets offers of help 3 times from other people, but he turns them down because he is sure God will save him. Finally, the flood overcomes him and he finds himself in Heaven where God explains He did try to save him all 3 times.
Like Ezekiel, we need to learn how sometimes God works in quiet ways. 1 Kings 19:11-13 tells us the Lord is not in the great wind, the earthquake, or the fire but in a "still small voice."
It may be easy to feel abandoned, but it is necessary to know hardships are meant to strengthen and challenge. Use these 3 ways to stick by God and to see if He is not always there; and then remember Psalms 46:10:
"Be still, and know that I am God."