We often struggle to put our faith in God when faced with difficult circumstances. When life doesn’t seem to be going the way we hoped, it’s easy to end up in despair. We forget God’s faithfulness and fail to recognize that the God who was with us before is still present amidst our current hardship.
I’ve experienced this countless times. I can remember just a few months ago, I felt plagued with misery as I started to think of everything in my life that wasn’t going well. I was triggered by one problem that led me to obsess about the others. It was like a weight rested heavily on my shoulders and I couldn’t get free.
Yet, God was there. He was whispering truth into my heart. Incidentally, or perhaps not, I had been reading the Pentateuch up until this point. If there’s one pervasive theme that runs throughout the first five books of the Old Testament, it is God’s hesed love (or faithfulness) to unfaithful people. God delivers his people when they do not deserve it and as they walk through new wilderness seasons, he calls them to recall his goodness to them in the past.
Forgetting God’s faithfulness quickly leads us to despair, disobey God, and miss out on seeing the goodness of God amidst our difficult circumstances.
Numbers 14 and the consequences of forgetting God’s faithfulness
By the time we get to the book of Numbers, the Israelites have been in the wilderness for at least two years. They are about to set out to inherit the promised land but Moses sends spies ahead of everyone else so that they could get an idea of what the land was really like. The spies come back and the land is fruitful, and it’s flowing with milk and honey. Except there’s a problem: the people who live in the land are extremely intimidating. Some of the spies relay this concern to the congregation and everyone sinks into despair. They begin to call for new leaders to take them back to Egypt, the oppressive land they had only recently left.
Long story short, God is deeply displeased and punishes that generation of Israelites by prohibiting them from entering the promised land. Their children inherited the promise but they spent their lives wandering in the wilderness where they eventually died.
Why did the Israelites attempt to turn back?
They attempted to turn back because they were afraid. They looked at the situation that lay before them and figured there was no way they could conquer the land. But, God never expected them to win in their own strength. He was determined to fight the battle. He had already given their enemies over into their hands. But they refused to believe it.
I believe that they refused to trust God primarily because they forgot God’s goodness. He had done countless things for them already:
- He allowed them to thrive in Egypt despite harsh slavery
- He delivered them from Pharaoh when the oppressive rule became too much to bear
- He parted the Red Sea and allowed them to walk through on dry land when the Egyptian army was closing in on them
- He provided manna and quail for them in the wilderness when they had nothing to eat
- He provided water from a rock when they grew thirsty in the desert
- He made them victorious over their enemies
- He promised them a good land that flowed with milk and honey
- And so much more…
There was no reason for them to fear what was ahead considering all God had done for them in the past. But, since they failed to remember God’s goodness, they ended up paralyzed by fear and forfeited God’s promise.
Why is it important to remember God’s faithfulness in difficult circumstances?
The Israelites aren’t the only ones guilty of this. We often are too. I was. God had shown up in my life so many times through so much hardship and here I was plagued with fear that the things God had promised wouldn’t come to pass.
Listen, hardship is real. I will not minimize this. Life can be painful and loss and difficulty can be hard to bear. It’s not that your pain doesn’t matter. It’s not that it’s irrelevant.
Instead, the reality is this: God is faithful even in the midst of your difficult circumstance. He is with you. He has not and will not abandon you.
Remembering God’s faithfulness leads to hope. Not necessarily that things will turn out just as you expected but that God is good and he loves you. If God is good, if he is sovereign, and if he loves you then this means that though the circumstances of life can be challenging, ultimately you’ll be okay. The God who came through for you before will come through for you again. You can rest in that.
I know this is easier said than done. How do you remember God’s faithfulness when all you can see is the storm? Well, you start to think about it and talk about it with others. You share your own stories and listen to the stories of friends, family, and members of your community. The more you rehearse his goodness, the more you believe it and the more your confidence in God will grow.
If you don’t know where to start, we’ve actually put together a thirty-day devotional with this in mind. It includes thirty unique stories from amazing women celebrating God’s faithfulness in difficult circumstances. It can be purchased on Amazon on September 1st.