When Life's Struggles Feel Overwhelming

Amanda Rawson

August 6, 2023

Have you ever questioned God's plans? Have you felt your faith was being tested to the point of barely holding on? After the last year and a half, I know that feeling all too well. In October 2021 my husband unexpectedly passed away. Then exactly one month later, in November 2021, my nine year old daughter was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Life just continued to spiral out of control with one thing after another happening.

It’s okay not to understand

I was left questioning and second guessing everything. I especially questioned God and his plans. I've been raised to believe that God has a plan and wants the best for us, so life didn't make sense anymore. Over the last months with life constantly changing and new challenges being thrown into the mix, being able to trust has been a challenge of its own. I’ve been expected to trust the doctors, people around me, and especially God. Putting trust in the doctors feels like a no-brainer because that’s their specialty and because you can physically see what they’re doing. However, when it comes to trusting God, we have a harder time because we can’t always see and make sense of his plans. I have gone through moments where trusting that God even has a plan hasn’t been the easiest thing to do. I don't understand, I don't like it, and that can be OK. God can take it.  

Tell God your struggles

In those difficult moments where I’ve asked God where he is, I'm in good company. The Psalmist asked these hard questions too, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). The Psalmists did not shy away from sharing their rage and confusion with God. Our God is big enough to handle our lament. The Psalms are full of cries for God to enact justice and redeem the losses.

Its okay to be human

In the quietness of my heart, I’ve heard God’s voice ask me “Do you trust me?” I respond with "Yes of course I trust you," however, there’s also been a "but yet..." spoken back to him. Our conversations usually sound like: “Of course I trust you, but can’t you just answer my prayers and heal her now?” Or, “Of course I trust you, but I could really use things to get easier now.” Or, “Of course I trust you, but do you see what we’re going through down here?” Or the most common one, “Of course I trust you, but how much longer will we have to wait?” I would like to be able to answer his question with just "of course I trust you" with no conditionality, yet these "but" responses show my humanity.

Even Psalmists felt tested

Sometimes with faith, it can feel like you are being tested, and sometimes it might even feel like the little bit of faith you have isn’t enough to make a difference. I’ve had many moments while sitting in the hospital with my daughter that I’ve questioned if my amount of faith is enough. I’ve been reminded of Jesus' words, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). When I think how small a mustard seed is, my first thought has been that surely my faith is bigger than that. God can take our mustard seed of faith and trust to do great things.

Grieve the losses

God sometimes says no, and that is not because of a lack of faith. God has plans that are beyond our understanding. We don’t get answers about why a husband dies young or a child has to face a horrible disease. We are not told everything will go our way if we have faith. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Troubles are a part of living in this broken world, but we trust in the one who has overcome the world. Jesus promised to be with us to the very end of the age giving us peace even in times of difficulty.

Choosing to trust when its hard

The Psalms often move from lament (a crying out to God) to a “yet, still” moment. Yet, still I will praise you. Yet, still I will trust in you. God might not have audibly answered my objections, but in God’s word there are great reminders that God is our everlasting rock. God is trustworthy to handle the lament in our responses (Isaiah 26:4). I’ll continue answering God’s question with “of course I trust you” which although hard to do at times is the absolute truth.

Worship reorients

I prayed and listened to worship music every day to try and hold on to my faith that I felt was being tested day in and out. When I prayed, I was often reminded of God's promise, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). I’ve held tight to that verse over the months believing with everything in me for it to be true. Singing reorients my heart to remember that “The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory” (Exodus 15:2).

If my faith is even as big as a mustard seed, then I just need to keep believing. A truth that I hold tight to is Isaiah 12:2 “See God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid." Although we don’t always know how things will turn out in the end, we do not need to fear. Our loving God is looking after us and he promises us an eternal future without pain or tears. When I try looking ahead to the future, I take comfort in the thought of God wiping away every tear that I’ve cried. I look forward to the day that God’s plans become clearer, his direction for me more evident and the days when we can celebrate more answered prayers. Until those days come, I will continue holding onto my faith, even if it is the tiniest seed of faith.

About the author — Amanda Rawson

Amanda Rawson is a widowed mother of three beautiful girls. She is college educated with a specialty in business studies. Her girls love sports, so she attends numerous sporting events for soccer and hockey. One of her beautiful girls has been going through cancer treatments since November 2021. She lives in a small tight-knit community in Southwestern Ontario. Her love of baking and sharing generously is appreciated by many. Time spent with family and friends brings her much joy. Amanda has a keen wit, and her honesty will inspire and encourage you.

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