When life is hard and we are facing difficult trials, our knee-jerk reaction is often to drift away from God. We begin to distrust Him, believing He is either unaware of our struggles or else unkind to have allowed them.
This is precisely what we should not do, however. Instead, we should be moving towards God, hiding in His presence as our shelter from the storm. In order to willingly and intentionally do so, however, there are 5 characteristics which I believe are crucial for us to remember about Who God is:
He is loving.
Our God is a loving God, but He is even more than that – He is the very essence of love itself. First John 4:8 says, “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Because God is love, He cannot do or allow anything in the lives of His children that is not first filtered through His hands of love. First Corinthians 13:4 says that love is kind, so we can rest assured that even here, even now, in the midst of our brokenness and sorrow, God is kind. He is good. He is loving. Everything He does is loving, which means that while we yet grieve the trials we are facing, we do not do so without hope in the God Whom we know loves us and will not allow anything to touch us that is not ultimately for our good – “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
He is wise.
When we’re in the painful midst of hardship in life, it becomes a challenge to believe that God knows what He is doing. But this is because we forget that our great God sees the big picture, and we do not.
The Lord says in Isaiah 55:7-9 that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
He says in Isaiah 46:10, “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: my plan will take place, and I will do all my will.”
This is why we are told in Proverbs 3:5-6 to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” This brings me to the next characteristic to remember,
He is trustworthy.
Sometimes, when trials of various kinds are really hitting us hard, it can be easy to doubt that God is worthy of our trust. But, even then, He still is!
Consider Joseph’s story as recorded in Genesis 37-50. Here he was, a young man having just dreamed an amazing dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. He’s thinking he is on the fast track to success when those very same brothers suddenly throw him into a pit. Then they sell him into slavery in Egypt, where he is falsely accused, tossed into prison and forgotten. His story goes from bad to worse before God tells him, at the end once he is a freed man and placed in a position of rule, that He had gone before Him and allowed everything that had happened to him to happen so that he might be put in such a position that he could save his people from an impending famine. If that’s not proof of God’s trustworthy nature, I don’t know what is!
He is faithful.
Not only is our God a trustworthy God of love and wisdom, but He is faithful to always be so. He is never fickle, never comdemning of us, and never tempted to leave us depending on how we act or what we think about Him in the hard moments. He can handle our doubts, our anger, our fear, and our struggle, all without ever changing in His love for us. He has never changed and never will (see, for example, Malachi 3:6). In Deuteronomy 7:9 He is described in these words: “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
He is near.
The fancy theological term for this is God’s omnipresence, or the fact that God is present everywhere. But even more than being present everywhere, God “is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). He promises in Hebrews 13:5 to never leave us, nor forsake us. In Isaiah 65:24 we read that “before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” When we are brokenhearted and burdened, the Lord is near. He is with us. And He hears every prayer we pray, all the while also catching every one of our tears (Psalm 56:8).
So, take heart, dear sister! Don’t despair in the hard moments. Don’t give up in the difficult seasons. Don’t believe the worst when you’re going through life’s most heartbreaking moments. Instead, remember Who God is. Remember His love for you. And rest in His arms, knowing that He’s got you and He’s got this situation. His good, pleasing, and perfect will is what will prevail in the end.