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October 4, 2022 | By Jay Ashbaucher

I had been feeling feverish every night for a long time, but now my temperature was consistently over 100. It was a Friday, and I knew I needed to do something before the weekend set in, so I went to Urgent Care. They found I had a urinary tract infection and put me on an antibiotic. After five days, clearly it was not working. I still felt feverish; one night my temperature was 103. I could not sleep.Like many others, I was at a place of not knowing what to do. So, as I frequently did, I got up in the middle of the night to read the Bible and talk to God. I pleaded, “O Lord, I need to hear from you, please tell me what to do”. But God was silent. Again, I appealed to God, “I have no one else to turn to. You know what is wrong with me and you know what I need to do. In times before you have answered me.” Still, God was silent. Then I remembered a chapter in a book I had written years before titled “Trusting a Hidden God”. As I read it, the Spirit of God reminded me that God is always with me, working to help me, even when I feel He is absent and is not answering my prayers. Jesus felt that way on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But God had not forsaken him and I was comforted knowing that God also has not forsaken me. I read some recommended Scriptures from the chapter I was reading and felt at peace. I could go back to bed trusting a hidden God.

The next day, I received a call from Urgent Care saying that my urine sample came back with a culture report telling them the antibiotic they gave me to kill the bacteria would not work. They said I needed to go to the ER because only they, through an IV, could give me what I needed to kill the infection. I went in to Urgent Care to get the report to take to the hospital. I said I did not know what hospital to go to, and they recommended one to me. I realized that God answered my prayer from the night before. He worked through Urgent Care to tell me exactly what I needed to do. “Thank you, Lord!” Four days later, I was dismissed from the hospital with no more infection.

We are all different and God does not work the same way with all of us. But God knows who we are, he sees our suffering, and I am convinced He is working in our lives to help us, according to what He knows we need. God will not always answer our prayers as we want. God knows there is value in our sufferings. Sometimes our sufferings are a part of His good will to help us grow to trust Him more, and to make us into the kind of person we need to become to be a better version of our beloved Jesus. I am learning that even in our unwelcome and painful sufferings, God is graciously working to bring His healing and holiness into our lives. Our task is often to trust a hidden God, believe in His care for us, believe the promises He gives to us in His word, and be faithful to keep doing what He calls us to do according to His Biblical teachings, primarily to love Him and to love others. By faith, and by recalling the many ways we have experienced his help in the past, we know God loves us and is with us. And even though in our present circumstances we may not see Him, and though we may be tempted to give in to disappointment and despair, we do not let that happen. We do not go away from God, knowing that He will give us all the resources we need to survive what seems to be insurmountable problems.

I am reminded of a story told by a missionary named Paul G. Hiebert. He tells the story of a time when there was an epidemic disease in the village where he was living and ministering the good news of Jesus. The Christians in the village were asked to help contribute to buying a water buffalo to sacrifice to one of their goddesses so that the goddess would take away the sickness. Not believing in false gods, the Christians refused to participate. As a consequence, the villagers would not let Christians draw water from the village well and the merchants would not sell them food. Then one of the Christian girls got sick, and the villagers said it was punishment from the goddess because the Christians would not help them with the purchase of the water buffalo. Paul Hiebert was asked to pray for the sick girl to be healed and everyone in the village watched to see if the Christian God would heal the girl. The girl died and Paul Hiebert felt totally crushed. He had prayed for healing and did not receive an answer. He needed God to show Himself so that others would come to believe in the true God. But God remained hidden and unresponsive. However, the non-believing villagers noticed that the Christians expressed great hope and joy that their beloved little girl would be resurrected and live forever in God’s future Kingdom. Soon, reports came forth that other villagers were becoming Christ-followers because they saw how the Christians responded to this tragedy. Paul concluded that in this case God remained hidden and did not heal the girl because the people of the village believed in spirits and magical powers, and if God had healed the girl, they would have made God just another part of their magical powers to be called upon in time of need. We do not always know why God does what He does, but God knows. Can we trust His love and that He has good reasons for allowing sufferings, even unimaginable sufferings? God has an eternal perspective, and we often have only an earthly perspective.

Although God does at times seem distant and unresponsive, many times, He has shown us His kindness and goodness to convince us of His love and care for us. Remembering those times of answered prayer, or times when He just showed up, is one way we can know His promise is true that He will never leave or forsake us, even in dark times. I had such an experience of his kindness the other day in the grocery store. I was in a hurry to get to an appointment and my wife wanted me to pick up some things at the grocery store. I had just enough time to fit it in, so off I went with her list, which included Alfredo sauce. “It will take me a lot of looking to find that item”, I thought. I was walking down an aisle looking closely for the sauce when I came to a woman shopper putting things into her cart. I stopped and said to her, “You look like a good Walmart shopper. Would you know where the Alfredo sauce is?” I was astonished when she said, “I was just going to go and get some of that. Just follow me.” She took me right to it a few aisles away. Many would say this was a rare chance happening, or luck. But, given who I am, and my current circumstances, could it just as well be God showing me an act of His kindness? What are the chances of that happening? It’s on my list of things to remember the next time I am tempted to think that God doesn’t care about me and has abandoned me. Keep trusting a hidden God and doing His will, as revealed in the Bible. The outcome will be worth your trust, whether in this present age or in the promised age to come.

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