God’s Care Amid Life’s Challenges

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of problems that life presents? Those hardships may come in the form of health challenges, emotional difficulties, family troubles, or a financial crisis.

Or have you ever felt all alone—isolated, lonely, and seemingly without family and close friends? Sometimes these feelings are brought on by divorce, bereavement, depression, or even a pandemic.

Sound mental health depends upon the ability to effectively cope with life’s problems. How can Christians deal with such issues? I’ll briefly address the problem of pain and suffering from the aspect of a believer in Christ.

Christians and the Challenges of Life
The Christian life consists of living a life of faith, hope, and love by God’s grace in light of what he has revealed about himself and the saving relationship we have with him.

When I go through tough times I take my concerns to God in prayer but I also ask other Christians to pray for me. On some occasions I’ve sought advice from my pastor and professional counselors I know. Christians should not hesitate to seek the help of qualified professionals when we go through difficulties.

Also, when facing hard times I seek to apply my theology to my situation. Here’s an example of biblical truth that’s helped me in my devotional time.

Many of historic Christianity’s greatest theologians have identified the Psalms as one of their favorite Old Testament books (e.g., Augustine, Luther, Calvin). It’s also one of my favorites, with Psalm 139 in particular possibly topping the list. Scholars generally view this psalm as consisting of four poetic stanzas or paragraphs (with the specific verses numbered accordingly: 1–6, 7–12, 13–18, 19–24).1 I appreciate this psalm because it is profoundly comforting. Its general theme is “God’s intimate knowledge of his people.”2

Psalm 139:1–6God Knows All about Us
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

This part of the psalm reveals that God has a detailed and deeply personal knowledge of everything about us, including our thoughts, words, and actions. We cannot evade the Creator and Redeemer’s infinite awareness of each of us. Such realization of God’s awesome knowledge can seem intimidating. Yet verse five’s “you lay your hand upon me” reflects a gentle, caring concern on the Lord’s part. As the Expository Bible Commentary notes: “The placement of the divine hand signifies protection and blessing.”3 The psalm writer (thought to be Israel’s King David) responds in verse six with an expression reflecting the finite creature’s astonishment and incomprehensibility concerning God’s limitless knowledge.

In the context of our suffering, this psalm assures us that the Lord knows, understands, and cares about our challenging conditions or circumstances. In light of how these poetic verses in Psalm 139 reflect God’s attribute of omniscience (all knowledge), theologian John Jefferson Davis offers this devotional application:

“God knows his children intimately. Even the very hairs of their head are numbered (Mt 10:30). This pervasive knowledge on God’s part is intended to be a comfort and source of security to his people.”4

As believers in Jesus Christ we don’t want to suffer or see the ones we love suffer, but pain and sorrow are part of the human condition in a fallen world. Concerning our mental and spiritual health, Christian psychologists Mark Cosgrove and James Mallory offer the following:

“Individuals need to take part in spiritual realities by entering into an ongoing relationship with a loving God. It is apparent in the Bible that God wants people to live with a certain mindset in order to know full mental and spiritual health.”5

Psalm 139 reveals that our Creator-Redeemer God has a plan for his children’s well-being, and we can be confident of his love and providential care even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Reflections: Your Turn 
What spiritual practices do you engage in when going through difficult times?



  1. The NIV Study Bible, Kenneth Barker, gen ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), 925.

    2. ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1116.

    3. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Vol. 5): Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), 836.

    4. John Jefferson Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts: Every Key Passage for the Study of Doctrine & Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 28.

    5. Mark P. Cosgrove and James D. Mallory, Jr., Mental Health: A Christian Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1977), 40.