God has not forgotten you. He has engraved you on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:15–16). He will never fail you or forsake you. He will walk with you through every dark valley. The God who has numbered every hair on your head and knows every sparrow that falls to the ground is aware of every detail of your situation. He is using your suffering and pain in ways you would not believe if someone told you.
“God has not forgotten you.”
As I heard those words, I was flooded with emotion. I hadn’t realized how much I needed them. As tears streamed down my face, I understood how lonely and forgotten I had been feeling.
I was in the darkest time of my life. My husband had left our family, my body was deteriorating, and I was parenting two angry adolescent daughters who wanted nothing to do with “my” God. I felt unnoticed.
But somehow, knowing that God had not forgotten me stirred me to press into him with renewed hope. Those simple words turned my mind and helped me focus on the truths that I needed to remember. That the Lord was with me and would sustain me through this trial. That God was using my suffering to accomplish something far greater than I could see or understand. And that my pain wouldn’t last any longer than was absolutely necessary.
Those truths grounded me. And those three assurances are still what ground me today.
1. God will be with me.
The assurance that God is with us is the most precious gift we have in suffering.
Of course, as Christians we know that God is always with us and that there is nowhere we can flee from his presence (Psalm 139:7–8), but actually sensing God’s presence and comfort is different. It has given me joy when I was discouraged (Psalm 16:11), refreshed me when I was weary (Acts 3:20), and taken away my fear when I was in deep waters (Isaiah 43:2). God’s presence has been more evident to me in suffering than at any other time, making it a priceless treasure of darkness (Isaiah 45:3).
In Psalm 23, David begins by talking about God and his tender care, saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). But when he moves into a place of danger and suffering, he shifts from talking about God to talking directly to him. He says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). There is a nearness, a personalness to God that David immediately feels in trouble.
The incomparable presence of God in our pain underscores that a day with him in trial is better than a thousand pain-free days elsewhere.
2. God has a good purpose for my suffering.
If my suffering were meaningless, I couldn’t have withstood it. I would have felt crushed, bitter, ripped off, full of regret and doubt, wondering whether my bad decision, or someone else’s, had kept me from the successful life I’d longed for. Life would have felt unfair and even cruel.
But thankfully, I know that the opposite is true — my suffering has been entrusted to me by God, and he is using every drop of it to fulfill his good purposes for me. It is full of meaning and will not be wasted, even if all I can see in the moment is my loss. By faith, I believe that God has a reason and purpose for my pain — perhaps thousands of reasons — and they are all for my good, regardless of what it looks or feels like on the surface (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20). While I may not see or understand any of them, I know that the Lord would never make me suffer unnecessarily. Now I see in a mirror dimly. I understand in part. But one day I will see face to face and understand fully (1 Corinthians 13:12).