I Still Do

God Has Not Forgotten You: A 31-Day Devotional

When life is turned upside down, learn how to turn to God.

by Leslie Barner

Facing tragedy, or life storms of any kind, can be extremely difficult. But in the midst of heartache and pain, you can find the hope and courage to go on. With God's help, the help of caring family members and friends, and the encouragement found in the Bible and other resources, you will receive the necessary strength to overcome.

You may be thinking, "I don't know how I could ever get through this." Or you may be battling powerful feelings of despair, suffering, confusion, fear, worry, and even anger. These are all normal responses to tragedy.

But as difficult as this life storm may be, you are not alone. God is with you always. He loves you, and cares about what is going on in your life. He hears your cries and sees your pain. Moreover, He understands.

The Bible says, "And it was necessary for Jesus to be like us, his brothers, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God, a Priest who would be both merciful to us and faithful to God … For since He himself has now been through suffering … He knows what it is like when we suffer … and He is wonderfully able to help us" (Hebrews 2:17-18 TLB). Whatever we endure, His care is certain, His love is unfailing, and His promises are secure.

God Has Not Forgotten You is a 31-day devotional with inspirational readings that contain life application steps to draw you closer to God and to encourage you to rely on Him to bring you safely through this present "storm" in your life. The following 7-day devotional is a portion of the full version; if you find this free sample encouraging, we recommend you work through the entire resource.

It is our prayer that this devotional will provide comfort, strength, encouragement, and healing for you and your family, and that through its pages you will discover extraordinary hope and the blessing of victory that only He can give. May God bless you and keep you always in His care, on this journey and beyond.

Day 1: You Are Not Alone

For He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5c)

On the morning of October 29, 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in portions of the Caribbean and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States faced their worst nightmare … “Superstorm Sandy.” This post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds and its unusual merge with a frontal system affected 24 states, including the entire eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and west across the Appalachian Mountains to Michigan and Wisconsin, leaving death, injuries, and utter destruction in its wake. Families everywhere, especially in hard hit New Jersey and New York, were jolted out of normalcy and the comfort and security of the homes and communities they once knew. They were thrust suddenly and unwillingly into the darkness and despair of loss.

If you and your family have ever been affected by a natural disaster like this, you may feel as if you've been abandoned by God. However, if trouble has hit your life in some other disaster, or form of tragedy—the death of a loved one, a dreaded medical diagnosis, the loss of home and property, or the loss of your job, you are experiencing your own superstorm. You may feel as if your whole world has been turned upside down, and wonder how you can possibly survive the loss. In times like these, you can feel very much alone.

But you are not alone. In the midst of unspeakable sorrow God is with you. Even if you do not feel Him near, God is there. He promises to never leave you alone. Therefore, wherever you are, God is. He is with you before, during, and after "the storm," never losing sight of you, or your suffering. Even as you ponder how you will begin picking up the pieces of your life, God is there … loving you beyond understanding, holding you up, and making a way where it seems there is no way. Reach out for Him today. He is a very present help in times of trouble (see Psalm 46:1).

Taking back your life …

  1. Psalm 139:7-10 says, "I can never be lost to Your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, Your strength will support me" (TLB). What assurance can you find in these verses of Scripture when you are feeling as if God has forgotten you?
  2. In Psalm 23, David pictures the Lord as the Great Shepherd who provides for and protects His sheep (His children). In verse four, he says "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." A shepherd uses his rod to protect his sheep (by using it to beat off wild beasts), and he uses his staff to guide them. What comfort can you find in knowing that God will protect and guide you during this difficult time?

  1. In addition to needing God's presence in our lives, we also need each other. Talk with your family or friends about the way you are feeling, so that you can share one another's burdens, and not feel so alone in your suffering. 

Additional Scripture reading:
  • Deuteronomy 31:8
  • Psalm 91:15-16 
  • Matthew 28:20

Day 2: He Sees and Understands Your Pain

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. (Psalm 34:15)

God knows in great detail the devastation caused by tragedy. He understands the pain and sorrow acquainted with grief and loss. He understands because He is all knowing. Furthermore, Jesus endured suffering (see Isaiah 53), and experienced pain, even the pain of feeling abandoned (see Matthew 27:46). And because God is with you always, He knows that you are hurting. He sees your pain, and hears the cries of your heart. You are not alone in your suffering; He is there for you.

God cares very deeply about you, and is attentive to every detail of your life—even those things that burden your heart. 1 Peter 5:7 says that you should cast "all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you." Isn't it comforting to know that God Almighty cares about you! It may seem like your life has been shaken to the core, but His love for you is never shaken. "'For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,' says the Lord who has compassion on you" (Isaiah 54:10).

No matter how bad things may seem God is in control. Nothing happens without His knowledge. Matthew 10:29-31 says, "Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall without your Father knowing it. … So don't worry! You are more valuable to Him than many sparrows." If God's eye is on the sparrow, He's most certainly watching you. In the midst of sadness and uncertainty, His hand is there to guide you; His strength is there to support you. You are never out of His reach.

Taking back your life …
  1. Look again at Isaiah 54:10 (above). How does this scripture apply to you and help to make your current circumstances bearable? 
  2. The writer of Psalm 121 says this of God in verse 8, " He keeps His eye upon you as you come and go and always guards you" (TLB). How does it feel to know that God keeps watch over you and is attentive to every detail of your life?
  3. In Psalm 138:8, the writer, offering thanksgiving and praise to God said confidently, "The Lord will work out His plans for my life—for Your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever." (TLB). Why not take a few moments to express to God your confidence in Him to work out His plans for your life. 

Additional Scripture reading:
  • Psalm 41:1 
  • Psalm 121:3 
  • Psalm 139:7-12,17,18

Day 3: Pouring Out Your Heart

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)

One of the most difficult things we can face in life is loss, and in the aftermath of a tragedy, the pain of loss can be very difficult to cope with. At times, it may even seem unbearable. Because God made us with feelings, there are many other difficult emotions we may experience when grieving or facing tough circumstances. We can feel hopeless, helpless, confused, fearful, anxious, and even angry. Recognizing these emotions, and releasing them in healthy ways, is extremely important in the journey toward healing and wellness. Ignoring or suppressing them can be very destructive, crippling to say the least.

What emotions do you feel in your heart? Heartache and pain are undoubtedly among them. You're probably hurting so badly that all you really want to do is cry. And that's okay! Even the Lord Jesus Christ wept when faced with the tragedy and sorrow of death (see John 11:35). He was so deeply moved within because of the sorrow resulting from Lazarus' death that He began to weep.

Sure, it's good to be strong in the midst of difficult circumstances, but it is also important to acknowledge the emotions that pain, suffering, and loss can bring. Think about it. How can your heart truly heal, if you don't acknowledge that you're hurting? So take the first step. Get alone with God, and tell Him honestly how badly you are hurting. Cry if you want to. Cry out to Him, "God, help me!" You will find that as you pour out your heart to the Lord, you'll begin to feel the burdens of your soul roll away.

Taking back your life …
  1. In Psalm 56:8 (TLB), David says of God, "You have seen me tossing and turning through the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle! You have recorded every one in your book." How does it make you feel to know how important your tears are to God?
  2. Consider what you have lost in the aftermath of tragedy. As you pour out your heart and acknowledge the emotions you are working through, you can find comfort in the following Scriptures for …
  • The death of a loved one: Matthew 5:4; Psalm 116:15; 2 Corinthians 5:8
  • Facing a terrible illness: Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:5; Jeremiah 17:14; Matthew 26:39
  • The separation of family members: Ephesians 3:20
  • The loss of your job, home, and other possessions: Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:31-34
  • Financial troubles: Psalm 34:10; Joshua 1:8; Luke 6:38
  • The fear of all you have yet to deal with: Isaiah 41:10
  • The destruction of your beloved city or community: Isaiah 58:12

Additional Scripture reading:

  • 2 Kings 20:5b 
  • Psalm 34:6 
  • 1 Peter 5:7

Day 4: Passing Through Deep Waters 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and though the rivers, they will not overflow you. … For I am the Lord your God ..." (Isaiah 43:2-3a)

In a desperate fight for survival many people passed through the floodwaters left by Hurricane Katrina in a frantic search for higher ground. It had to be a frightening experience to wade, and in some areas, swim, through the murky, contaminated waters to save self, family members, neighbors, family pets, and in some cases, total strangers. But in the midst of fear, desperation, and uncertainty many passed through the deep waters courageously, and were eventually rescued and taken to safety.

As you pass through the deep waters of your circumstances, you may be wondering, "Who can rescue me from this?" Be encouraged! Even in the deepest of waters, God promises to be with the one who trusts in Him. He alone can truly rescue you and keep you from drowning. Just as Jesus rescued Peter when He invited him to walk on water in the midst of a storm (see Matthew 14:22-33). At first, Peter trusted Jesus and joined Him on the water, but as soon as he began to focus on the storm, and give in to the fear of it, he began to sink. Still, when he cried out, "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 12:30) Jesus stretched out His hand and rescued Peter.

He can rescue you too. All you need do is take a deep breath of faith, reach out, and take hold of the mighty hand of God. Do not fear the deep, murky waters of uncertainty surrounding you. Though the way seems difficult, and at times impossible, you can be confident in this, "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

Taking back your life …
  1. Jeremiah 32:17 says, "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You." What encouragement can you find in this Scripture, when your situation seems too difficult?
  2. Write down everything that seems impossible about your situation. Next to each item write, "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). Spend a few minutes in prayer about the items on your list, and be sure to thank God that none of those things are too big or too hard for Him to handle. 
  3. Commit Luke 1:37 to memory, and every time your situation seems too difficult or impossible, speak it to yourself, as a reminder that God can handle whatever is troubling you. As opportunities arise, you can encourage others using this verse as well. 

Additional Scripture reading:
  • Psalm 9:9-10 
  • Psalm 37:40 
  • Isaiah 26:3

Day 5: Finding Hope in God   

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

"Take from a man his wealth, and you hinder him; take from him his purpose, and you slow him down. But take from man his hope, and you stop him. He can go on without wealth, and even without purpose, for a while. But he will not go on without hope."—C. Neil Strait.(1) As you think about your own circumstances, you may feel completely discouraged. The reality of what you are facing can seem so overwhelming, you might feel like giving up. But don't give up. The circumstances may be too difficult in human terms, but in Christ there is always hope. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11 TLB).

When you consider all that you are facing, ask yourself, "Is there anything too hard for God?" (See Jeremiah 32:17). Absolutely nothing! No matter what is going on in your life, you can trust that He is in control, and is working everything out for your good (see Romans 8:28). When you wake up in the morning and wonder how you will face the day, God is working it out. When you wonder how you can get through and overcome this difficult time, God is working it out. And when you lay down at night, wondering how you will face the challenges of tomorrow, whatever they may be, God is already working it out. God knows intimately the concerns of your heart (see Psalm 139:1-3), and can provide all the peace, strength, and courage you need. So don't give up! Confidently hope in Him. Hope … and persevere!  

Taking back your life …

  1. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." What hope does this Scripture give you in the midst of tragedy, loss, and uncertainty? 
  2. Discuss as a family (or with a friend) how God has worked things out for your good in past times of difficulty. 
  3. Pray with someone else who shares your sorrow. Take turns praying for one another that God will encourage your hearts and give you hope. 
Additional Scripture reading:
  • Psalm 31:24 
  • Romans 15:13 
  • Ephesians 3:20-21

Day 6: A Constant Place of Refuge

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents found themselves taking refuge in shelters all over the United States. Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita, cut a new path of destruction through the Gulf Coast, forcing those who found refuge in Houston, and other areas near the coast to participate in yet another evacuation. Then on the heels of Rita came the wildfires in Southern California, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the mudslides in Guatemala, displacing even more families.

If you and your family have been displaced as a result of tragedy you may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty, and more. Or if you are facing death or disease you may feel like running for shelter … a place to hide. There is a place where anyone facing tragedy can go—a place that provides our spirits never-ending shelter from danger, and offers powerful strength to weather any storm life may bring our way. That place is in God. In Psalm 32:7, David says this of God, "You are my hiding place; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance."

Though life is sometimes difficult and painful, when we take shelter in Him, His help is always ready, has been proven time and time again, and is completely reliable. In Psalm 62:7-8 (TLB), David wrote, "He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!" Like David, you can take shelter in His protective presence. There you will find peace for today, strength for tomorrow, and hope for a brighter future.

Taking back your life …
  1. In Psalm 57:1-2 David prayed, "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me." How can you use or apply this prayer to your circumstances today?
  2. How does it feel to know that you can find permanent shelter in God, where everything you need (peace, joy, strength, protection, hope, etc.) is provided?
  3.  When you have some time. Open a Bible and read Psalm 91 to learn more about the blessings of taking refuge in God.
Additional Scripture reading:
  • Deuteronomy 33:27 
  • 2 Samuel 22:2-3 
  • Psalm 32:7 
  • Psalm 61:3-4

Day 7: Tapping into the Power of Prayer 

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. … This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of al his troubles. (Psalm 34:4,6)

Throughout the Bible God makes it clear that our prayers are very important to Him. He loves for us to talk with Him, just as we would our closest friend, and promises to be there for us whenever we call. He says, "Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

He wants you to tell Him about your burdens, and to give Him all your cares, so that He can bring hope to your heart, peace to your soul, and strength to your life (see 1 Peter 5:7). But even when you're at a loss for words, and don't know what to pray, the Holy Spirit Himself speaks on your behalf (see Romans 8:26). Yet God is not only interested in your struggles. He wants you to talk with Him about everything, from your smallest victories to your greatest fears and all things in between.

Isn't it good to know that you have a direct line to God? That He is available to talk to you anytime, day or night? In fact, you can talk to Him right now. Tell Him how you're feeling; that you're hurting. Tell Him about your disappointment. Talk to Him about your anger and your pain. Tell Him how you love Him and need Him so. He hears your weeping, your requests, your praise, and thanksgiving. Prayer moves God. And when He moves in your life, you will feel His presence, experience His peace, and draw from His strength in ways you never thought possible! (2)

Taking back your life …

1. Hebrews 4:16 says, "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." God actually invites us to spend time in His presence to communicate with Him. Will you accept His invitation?

2. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are told to "Pray without ceasing." How can you stay in constant communication with God? Why is this communication so important?

3. Start a prayer journal today. You don't have to use a fancy notebook. Any paper that you can find will work. Use the journal to write down your feelings, emotions, and struggles as if you are writing letters to God. List your specific requests at the end of each page, and as God answers your prayers, be sure to write down the date and the way in which He answered you.

Additional Scripture reading:

Psalm 61:1-4
Psalm 138:3
1 John 5:14-15

 

If this 7-day sample devotional has been an encouragement to you, you can get the full, 31-day version here.

Endnotes 

1. Lloyd Cory, comp., Quotable Quotes (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, a division of SP Publications, Inc., 1985), 183.

2. Leslie Barner, comp., Encouragement for Brokenhearted Homes—On the Journey Through Grief (Little Rock, Ark: FamilyLife, 2002), adapted from pgs. 69, 70.

Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

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