Where is God?
I have asked myself this question a lot. As I have struggled with some of the biggest trials I have ever encountered, I wondered if He knew how broken I felt. I wondered if He saw my pain and exhaustion.
I have prayed a lot. Sometimes silently, sometimes screaming, sometimes sobbing, and other times in a whisper. I prayed to know if He could hear me, I prayed for Him to help me see. I prayed for Him to lift me.
In my weakest moments I have turned to Him for strength, comfort, and guidance. And in my even weaker moments, I admit that sometimes I just asked if He was there. Sometimes it felt like He wasn’t. Sometimes it felt like He was far away. Sometimes He didn’t feel real.
And then, right in the moment I was about to break from all of the pressures and pains I felt… Somehow I didn’t.
Somehow I woke up again the next morning. Somehow I put on clothes, and went to work. Somehow I kept breathing even when it felt as if my next breath was impossible.
For a long time I was confused at how I would “somehow” keep going when all seemed lost and gone. That even though “I couldn’t do this anymore” I still “somehow” continued to do it.
A few days ago I was with a pair of sister missionaries visiting a woman that they were teaching. They had invited me to come along and to teach with them, but the entire time that they were speaking, I felt as if I couldn’t. I was overwhelmed by their words and by the feeling in the room. I was paralyzed by the peace that I felt, pierced by the grace that was so thickly laid over the room we sat in.
“Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for they gain.”
2 Nephi 2:2
“And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
“But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.”
Alma 34: 41
As I sat and listened to the sister missionaries teach, I knew that the words and scriptures that they shared were true. I felt it. Then, the woman that we were there to teach shared something. She spoke of times in her life that were harder than I could ever imagine. Pains and struggles unique to her that I couldn’t begin to understand. She said that in those times she felt alone and afraid. But as she looks back now, she can see that God was with her. That He carried her through those times, even though she couldn’t see it in the moment.
And then I understood. My “somehow” was God. In my moments of disparity, when I felt all was lost and that I couldn’t carry on God gave me strength. I was endowed with power. I was given the hope I needed to power through. Sometimes it wasn’t the amount of strength I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed.
You might wonder why I wasn’t given enough strength to immediately overcome my pains and afflictions. I have wondered the same thing. I think it is because we can grow and learn so much from pain. The same way a muscle experiences micro tears from an intense workout, our spirit also feels strain when we encounter hard trials. And just as a muscle can be soothed with heat, a broken spirit can be soothed through the atonement of Christ. After enduring a strenuous workout the muscle becomes stronger, likewise our spirits grow stronger from overcoming the trials we face
You also might wonder how I know this is true, how I can know God is really the one behind my “somehow”. I know because I have asked Him in prayer, on my knees and I have received revelation and answer to my prayers. I know because I have studied the words of current and past prophets and I have read their testimonies of a God who is not distant, but who walks beside me. Even a God who carries me. I know because I have felt His arms around me, lifting me. I know because I am not strong enough to do this on my own. I know because I feel it is true in my heart.
I am not perfect and my faith is small, but I know that God is right next to me holding me up and leading me forward. He is my strength.