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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us




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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

In Times of Trouble God Comforts Us By Dr. Alwin B. De Leon




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Copyright Š 2008 by Alwin Berza De Leon All rights reserved. Written permission must be secured from the publisher to use or reproduce any part of this book, except for brief excerpts in reviews or articles. Published by Equilibrium Publishing, 89 K-4th St., Kamuning, Quezon City, Philippines 1103 Mobile: +639175318492 Email: alwindeleon@yahoo.com Printed in the Philippines Cover design and book layout by Oliver Kuy Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV) Philippine Copyright Š 1985 by International Bible Society, with the authorized publisher, Philippine Bible Society. ISBN -




In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This is to thank those people who shared their stories and prayers written in this booklet. I am grateful to Rev. Benji M. De Jesus, Ms. Leza A. Acorda-Cuevas, and Ms. Johanna G. Lim for reviewing the manuscript. I am thankful to Mr. Oliver Kuy who made the cover design and book layout. I am also grateful to Ms. Ma. Rosario A. Francisco who proofread my manuscript. And above all, to my Master Planner and Divine Teacher, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the completion of this work.




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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us CONTENTS Acknowledgments Preface Introduction Part One Common Questions We Ask When We Are Troubled Oh God, Why Me?

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Am I Facing This Problem Alone

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Can Someone Help Me?

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How Long Should I Endure This Struggle?

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Why Did God Allow This Crisis to Happen?

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Does God Really Love Me? Whom Shall I Trust?

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How Do I Know That I Am Secured In God’s Hands?

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Can I Still Praise Him Even in My Times of Trouble?

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In What Way Can I Give Glory to God?

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CONTENTS Part Two Comforting Prayers From Our Brethren

Samuel U. Evangelista

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Emile Justin F. Godoy

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Emily M. Maglanoc

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Yvette M. Quiambao

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Ross William S. Tan

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Louella A. Chua

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Cherry Blossom Basque単a

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Alwin B. De Leon

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About the Author About the Book Commendation




In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us PREFACE When I was reflecting on God’s goodness and faithfulness at Starbucks, Metrowalk in Ortigas Center late in September 2005, God impressed upon me to come up with this inspirational booklet. This was the time when I was facing some terrible crises. These had something to do with my security of tenure, employment, and financial obligations. In my time of uncertainty, I remembered my plight when I was about to die of a complex viral disease in 1999. When I read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, I realized that God has an ultimate purpose. Paul states: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Thus, amidst the difficulties we encounter, we who are comforted by God have the privilege to comfort others. We want to inform our brothers and sisters in Christ that the trouble we are facing will turn into blessings in God’s own time.




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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us INTRODUCTION Are you in pain right now? Are you facing a problem at this moment? With whom have you shared your anxiety? You may say, “God is unfair.” You have been serving Him faithfully, then, suddenly an unexpected event comes into your life: death in your family, financial crisis, serious sickness, unemployment, or unclear direction of your life. Or you may ask, “Where is God in my times of trouble? How come God allowed this to happen?” My beloved fellow Christians, raising questions to our Heavenly Father is also another way of expressing our negative feelings and hurts. Truly, our Sovereign King listens to us and understands our situation, just as He understood King David, a man after God’s own heart, who was in distress and in sorrow. You will notice in the Book of Psalms that David was transparent and open to question God’s presence in his times of trouble (Psalm 10:1, 13:1,22:1, 89:46). He also asked why God rejected him (Psalm 43:2; 74:1). He questioned God if He would be angry forever (Psalm 79:5). No one is indispensable. Everyone is facing disappointments and worries. Whether you are an executive or an employee, a husband or a wife, a faculty member or a student, a leader or a worker in a church, you encounter pain and dismay. You stop or pause because you are facing a certain problem. You stop for a minute and question God. You pause to seek God’s guidance. Probably, before, you had no quality time 11


Part to reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness because you were too busy doing your tasks either in the office, school, house, or even in your church. In our busyness or comfort/ complacency, we may have forgotten to be in His presence through reading the Scripture, listening to His voice and following Him. Most of us are so busy trying to reach our goals of becoming successful in our careers or families. Well, there is nothing wrong about that. But where is God in your life while you are trying to accomplish your personal plans? Nonetheless, there are some individuals who are reminded by our Lord that even when they are too busy, they still have to read His Word and think about what He wants them to do. Even though we are in agony, reading the Bible and listening to Him can give us comfort and assurance that He is with us. Remember, God speaks through His Word.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

PART ONE

COMMON QUESTIONS WE ASK WHEN WE ARE TROUBLED

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Oh God, Why Me? In 1999, Pastor Samuel Evangelista, and his wife, Emerlinda, had a second child named, Kean Patrick. Their one-month old son, a baby with down-syndrome, was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, severe bronchopneumonia and hepatitis. Patrick stayed in the hospital for one and a half months mostly in the intensive care unit. It was a hopeless moment for them to see their child in that situation. The couple was drained physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Because of his disappointment, Pastor Sam often questioned God, “Why me, Oh God? Why allow me go through such a heart breaking experience?” He felt that God was silent for five weeks. He was angry, confused, and doubtful. He was pessimistic. One evening, when he was reflecting God’s Word, God was telling him that He loves him so much even when Sam was angry with God because of what happened to Patrick. Then, he realized that instead of questioning Him, he said to God, “Well, why not Lord? Why not let me undergo such a difficult and painful path? If this will help me see you more clearly as my Lord and Savior.” According to him, “It is God’s option to do whatever He wants with my life, my kids, and my wife. I am just a steward of all that I have right now.” Looking back to the story of Job, though he was blameless, upright, and God-fearing, he was not exempted from facing difficulties. There were simultaneous awful events that happened on the same day. Job’s servants were murdered, his

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us livestock were taken away, and his sons and daughters were killed by a strong wind (Job 1:13-19). Then, after few more days, he acquired a skin disease from the sole of his feet up to his head (Job 2:7,8). In the case of King David, his son Absalom turned against him (2 Samuel 15:13,14) and intended to kill him because Absalom wanted to be king himself. King David fled from Jerusalem. He was weeping as he and his men went up at Mt. Olives (2 Samuel 15). Later, David’s own men killed his son, Absalom. Remember Joseph, the Dreamer? He was abandoned and sold by his brothers (Genesis 37:12-28). He became a servant of Potiphar; nevertheless, he was thrown into prison accused of something he did not do (Genesis 39). In most cases, we do not know why God allowed these tragedies to happen. We have been acknowledging that God has a purpose. God has a divine agenda. God has a wonderful plan for everybody. Yet, we do not understand what the outcome will be. However, at the end of the story of Job, the LORD made Job prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. And God also gave him other daughters and sons (Job 42:10-16). For King David, he had a plan to build a temple of the LORD where the ark of the covenant of God would be placed. His son, Solomon, who asked wisdom from the LORD, completed building it (1 Chronicles 28 - 2 Chronicles.7).

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Part When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, Pharaoh put him in charge of Egypt as his second-in-command (Genesis 41:41-43). Thus, he saved many lives including the lives of his brothers and their family members (Genesis 50:18-21). Yes, indeed, in times of trouble, we really do not know where God will bring us. Imagine that you are in a tunnel. The place is totally dark. You know there is an end to the tunnel but you have no idea where the exit is. Inside the tunnel, you can hardly walk because of rocks, boulders, holes, logs, and shrubs that hinder your way. Like a blind person, you are trying to determine the safest path to walk on. You acquire wounds and bruises while on the journey. All the while, you are thinking of the reason why you are inside the tunnel. But when you reach the tunnel exit, there is an exuberant joy, peace and comfort in your heart – thanking God that you have hurdled the troublesome journey. In planning, we would like to be in control of formulating our own strategies and activities. We look forward to reach our desired outcomes. But in God’s plan, we have no idea what specific output we might be able to achieve. Furthermore, we are so worried if the plan is unclear. However, God assures us, “For I know the plans I have for you, the plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

Am I Facing This Problem Alone? Around two o’clock in the morning, the younger brother of Ross William Tan called up their house seeking help, for him to be bailed out from prison. The brother told Ross that he and his friends were framed up for drug trafficking. At that time, Ross had no idea what to do. He felt that his family members were so afraid to make the first move. That is why he decided to take responsibility for his beloved brother. And so he went to the police station alone and felt disappointed because he was the one only who bore the burden of his brother. He felt abandoned by the very people who were supposed to help them. Nonetheless, his faith in God was reinforced. He was reminded in Hebrew 13:5 that states, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Certainly, God assured Ross to trust in Him, for the Lord will deal with the problem. No one is exempted from any problem. Even Jesus Christ questioned and cried out to the Father, particularly when he was on the cross. He exclaimed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) It is okay to express your feelings to God. It is okay to cry out before our Heavenly Father. David cried out to God (Psalm 18:6). Israelites also cried to the LORD (Exodus 2:23). I am delighted to read Exodus 33:11, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” It will

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Part be, indeed, a great honor for us to converse with our God face to face as His friend. In the case of Abraham, because of his faithfulness to God and his righteousness before Him, he was called “God’s friend” (James 2:23). Isn’t it wonderful that we can talk with God wholeheartedly telling Him our problems and difficulties? Isn’t it amazing that when we share our pains to Him, He listens and comforts us, and makes responses in His own time? Jesus states, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). In Psalm 77, when King David, who was in distress, cried out to God for help, he was still able to meditate on God’s works and mighty deeds. And he was comforted by the way God led His people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Surely, God wants us to be closer to Him by communing with Him. We can come before Him with open arms, and express our worries and disappointments to Him. And He will rescue us from the pit of despair. Thus, though He is our Holy and Awesome God, we are reminded that He is also our Friend whom we can lean on in times of sorrow and pain. He is our Refuge who cares and protects. Moreover, He is our Comforter who comforts us in all our troubles. “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Psalm 73:28

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

Can Someone Help Me? She received Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior when she was in her first year high school. Caroline Dee was very active in the church and in Bible study. But when she moved alone to the United States of America to study for her baccalaureate degree, everything changed. She was not able to attend church service, nor read the Bible. She became a party lover, chain smoker, and a consistent absentee in her class. Her lifestyle turned extravagant as she could buy anything she wanted. She became a spoiled brat. When she came back to the Philippines, and started to attend at Greenhills Christian Fellowship, she realized that she was far from the Lord. She understood that she was rebellious before God. She recognized that she was far from God’s will and needed help. Then, she brought all her concerns to God and asked for forgiveness. She had a desire to again get involved in the ministry, and to stop smoking. As months passed, God taught her to be a growth group leader for Christ, and gave her a passion to sing for Him. God also enabled her to give up smoking. Let me cite another story. When Harold Lapuz learned that his relatives (who he thought were there to support him) were ashamed of him, he decided not to rely on anyone. He would find some ways and means for him to achieve his goals in life. From his high school to college days, he was so proud that he

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Part could do everything on his own without any help from others. He thought that being alone was not a hindrance. Then one day, there was an uneasiness that triggered his inner being. It seemed that there was no one with whom he could share his ideas, his passions, and his plans in life. He was so depressed. He cried and felt that he could not make it alone. And he said to himself, “Can someone help me?” In his loneliness, there seemed to be nobody with him. He could not talk with nor call up anyone because he believed that they could not relate with his personal issues. And he also thought that the people around him were weak and too sensitive. It was also that time when he was dissatisfied with his career. When he heard the song entitled, “When Answers Aren’t Enough,” he cried out to God and prayed to Him. He surrendered his life to Him. He sought forgiveness from Jesus Christ. As a result, he became open to share his life and personal plans with others in trust and confidence. There was a time when David was dismayed because King Saul tried to kill him because of jealousy. When David fled from the evil scheme of the king, he went to the prophet Samuel and told him about Saul’s activities against him (I Samuel 18:18). Then, David went to Jonathan, his best friend, and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he is trying to take my life?” (I Samuel 20:1). Even in times of trouble, we have the tendency to look for someone and share our pains. We ask our closest friends, 20


In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us siblings, growth group members, or our pastor if they have time to be with us to listen, and to comfort us with their presence. In counseling, the major task of the counselor is to listen to the ailing client. This is an opportune time for the client to release his anguish on a certain problem. This emotional release is good for us because we have our God who is also our Counselor (John 14:16). When Elijah was in trouble, he expressed to God that he had had enough already. In fact, he requested God to take his life (I Kings 19:4). This was the time when Elijah was afraid because the Israelites rejected God’s covenant, and put God’s prophets to death with the sword (I Kings 19:10). Was there a time when you asked God to take your life in order to be freed from sorrows? Was there a time when you asked God to punish those who oppressed you? Was there a time when you asked God to comfort you and heal you from your pain? In Psalm 46:1, when David was in distress, he acknowledged God as his ever-present help in trouble. For the prophet Isaiah, God was the source of strength and help. Therefore, we can come to our Lord God Almighty anytime, anywhere, and tell Him our pains for He is truly our Great Helper. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

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How Long Should I Endure This Struggle? On May 29, 2003, Rose Espiritu received a letter of termination from her high school official effective June 01, 2003. She was surprised because her school official accused her of something that she did not do – of having malicious intent toward one of the parents of their students two years ago. In her 28 years of working with the school, she believed that all her actions were done in accordance with the school policies. Yet, she was terminated without due process. She cried to God every night. She asked Him where to get financial resources to sustain the needs of her loved ones. She was impatient. She asked God to provide her with a job instantly for she did not want to see her loved ones starve. There was an instance when she thought of killing herself because she could not accept what happened to her. However, God gave her a wonderful biblical passage, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). This passage comforted her and gave her peace. When troubles come to our lives, we hope that they will not be prolonged because of the suffering, pain, and sorrow we experience. We do not want them because troubles hurt us. Days? Weeks? Months? Or years? We have no idea when God will answer our requests. We are like King David who expressed his dismay to God when he exclaimed, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long O Lord will

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us you hide your face?” (Psalm 13:1). In his disappointment, he asked God for a timetable. He felt God would forget him. He questioned God if He was hiding from him. How about you? Have you also felt that way? There was a time when the Psalmist said, “Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly” (Psalm 102:2b). Definitely, we also demand God to make an immediate intervention or response to our prayer requests. Yes, it really hurts. Our emotions are affected. Feeling stressed and pressured can be seen in our faces and actions. And these may cause health problems such as headache, heart ailment, spasm, and other diseases. Our emotions, physical bodies, relationships, and even finances are the areas that affect us. In the last quarter of 2004, my student leaders and I thought that we would only have a 3-hour trek but it ended up as a 10-hour activity. Our objective was to conduct an ocular survey in a mountainous area in Montalban in preparation for implementing an outdoor activity for our student organization. We did not bring food nor extra shirts, but a faculty member’s mountaineering team was prepared with gadgets and equipment. The rain poured down for a few minutes. We walked along the muddy, slippery trail, and steep places. We also walked along the river for almost five hours. And even at night, only a few team members brought and were able to use their flashlights. Some of us needed to grope our way, and tried to look for the trail. In fact, there was a time that we lost track of the trail. I got bruises. Others got wounded. My student leaders were 23


Part already tired and hungry. One of the student leaders asked our guide, “How long do we have to walk? What time will we arrive at our destination?” One leader was thinking of going back. Others were challenged. Nonetheless, when we arrived at our destination at around nine o’clock in the evening, we were so happy and fulfilled that we completed our journey. The next day in our school, we joyfully shared to the members of our organization how “we conquered Montalban.” We showed them our wounds and bruises. We let them see our photos. And we also described to them our experiences. In likemanner, we also shared with them some of our learnings and insights from the trekking activity. Isn’t it great that after experiencing and overcoming a painful event in our lives, we have the privilege of telling others how God works in us? “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:15

*** Why Did God Allow This Crisis to Happen? Rosemarie Arceo came from a broken family. She asked God, “Why did this happen to us? What is His purpose?” There was a time when she, together with her mother and siblings, felt like beggars asking for financial assistance

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us from their father who was living with another family. She was frustrated when she was trying to find some ways in order for her mother and father to reunite. But her mother was furious at her father and kept nagging him whenever they see each other. In her quiet time with God, she read I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” With this comforting passage, she believed God has brought her closer to Him, and has used the situation in order to strengthen her faith. In the Old Testament, the LORD said to Moses, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you…. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:3-5) You will notice that God can use other people to hinder our own personal plans, and to show us His divine plan. In the case of Pharaoh, God hardened his heart not to listen (Exodus 7:3). What about you? Does God harden the heart of your boss, your client, your loved one, or best friend? Erwin’s eldest brother has used illegal drugs. His brother allowed his friends to use their house for pot sessions. Erwin Igot was not happy about the situation. Even their neighbors were complaining to Erwin about the illegal activities done in their house by his brother. He requested his brother to stop abusing his body and health. He also asked him not to use their house for illegal purposes. But the brother did not listen to him. 25


Part He understood that his relationship with his eldest sibling was merely part of his trials, and he needed to rely on God’s strength and comfort. When he read James 1:2-4, his faith in God became stronger. It states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In Exodus 7:5, the very reason why God allowed the plagues to happen was that the Egyptians would know that He is LORD. It meant that He was revealing His attributes to them as the all-powerful, all-knowing and wise God. In our case, God would like to tell something to us, depending on our situation. Probably, He wants to reveal Himself to us as our Provider, Healer, Shepherd, Divine Planner, or Refuge. In times of trouble, we may become either rebellious or more faithful to Him. We hear from our brothers and sisters in Christ that the reason why God allows troubles is to discipline or preserve us (Hebrew 12:10; I Peter 4:12,13). As we undergo this painful process, we believe that God is refining us to become more faithful servants in His sight. This involves stretching our faith in God, holding on to His promises, and trusting God that He has a solution for every problem that we have. “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

Does God Really Love Me? In April 1999, I was confined in two hospitals in just two weeks. The doctors could not find the cause of my high fever, physical weakness, and decreasing platelets. I was given oxygen, dextrose, and a transfusion of donated platelets. The medical personnel placed a tube into my lungs to remove liquid from it. It was on the second week, when my physicians diagnosed me with a complex viral disease (a combination of dengue and malaria), which I acquired when I was in Botolan, Zambales. That was the time when we were conducting a three-day ocular survey near Mt. Pinatubo for the agro-forestry project of the Aeta community. When I was confined, financial and health problems were my major concerns. All my savings, including my health insurance, was already used up to pay my bills. I also had to get a loan so that I could pay the remaining balance of my hospital fees. I said to God, “Lord, you led me to help the disaster victims in the tribal area. You gave me a passion to assist the Aetas. Why then did you give me these difficulties? Do you really love me?” In your situation right now, how does God demonstrate His love for you? Who are those people whom God is using to comfort you? In Exodus 16, during Moses’ time, the Israelites grumbled against him and Aaron for bringing them to the desert to

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Part starve to death. They preferred to die by the hand of the LORD in Egypt because there was available food to eat in that place. Nevertheless, God rained down bread called, “manna” from heaven in the morning, and covered the camp with quails in the evening. For seven days, God provided bread and meat to the Israelites. Not only that, the Israelites ate manna for forty years until they reached the boarder of Canaan. This was one of the ways God showed His love to His people. When Elijah was in the desert, he prayed to God that he might die because Jezebel was planning to kill him as Ahab, Jezebel’s husband, killed all the prophets. After he prayed, he lay down and fell asleep. Yet, the angel of the LORD provided him with a bread cake and a jar of water twice (I Kings 19:3-7). Even before that event, God used the ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah in the morning and evening (I Kings 17:1-6). Elijah was indeed a faithful servant of God. He followed and obeyed God, but there were times that he was so afraid and needed to be strengthened. Thus, God showed His love to Elijah. God used His angel and even ravens to provide food, water, and meat for him. And we all know that God comforted Elijah. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were driven out from the Garden of Eden. But before driving them out, Genesis 3:21 notes, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” In this situation, you will notice that God still demonstrated His love to them. He made garments and clothed them even though the couple sinned against Him.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us Imagine this: You are a parent, and your son disobeyed you. Consequently, you forced him to move out of your house. Then, suddenly when he was already at the gate moving out, you stopped him and said, “Son, before you leave, here are some pocket money and extra clothes.” My questions are these: Why are you giving those things to your disobedient son? How would you explain this to your friends and relatives? Whether we are faithful to God or not, still our Lord God Almighty reveals His attributes to us. God is love. God has been outpouring His love to us. Just count your blessings and you will realize that God loves you very much. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

*** Whom Shall I Trust? Six young professionals had their rafting event at the Chico River in Kalinga Apayao in the last quarter of 2004. During the preparation, Andrew Kho felt safe because he was a wearing life jacket, and there were two experienced trainers with them. He was so excited to navigate the raging river. But when they were already at the river, in a blink of an eye, their raft turned over. Andrew panicked and held his breath as he struggled from drowning. The first thing that he did was to hold someone who he thought was his best friend. But the

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Part person that he was holding shouted at him to release his arms because Andrew was already pulling him down unintentionally. Then, when he was brought by the wave along the riverside, he calmed down. Peace and comfort prevailed when he saw his colleagues at a distance. Indeed, we look for someone who will understand us, who will tap our shoulder, and/or who will pray for us. Our friends, family members, growth group members from our church, or pastor can listen to our problems. They can comfort us and strengthen us. They can provide guidance and advice. They can share their experiences and discuss how God answered their prayers just like what happened to the Israelites, when they crossed the Red Sea. The Israelites, after seeing a display of God’s power through the dividing of the sea and being delivered from the hands of Egyptians, “feared the LORD and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.” (Exodus 14:31) Trusting God is relying on His power completely when facing and solving our problems because He cares for us. Jesus Christ advised his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust in me” (John 14:1). What a comforting statement from Christ! In fact, Christ invites people who are weary and burdened to go to Him, and He will give them rest (Matthew 11:28). Likewise, trusting Him also means that He is filling us with joy, peace, and hope. I remember the poem entitled, “Footprints in the Sand.” A man dreamed he was walking along the beach with God. 30


In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonged to him and the other to God. He noticed that during the most troublesome times in his life, there was only one set of footprints. He had no idea why, when he needed God, God had left him. But God replied, “The years when you had seen only one set of footprints, my child, was when I carried you.” (Mary Stevenson, 1939) Proverbs 3:5-6 writes, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” From our human perspective, we have no idea what is in the mind of God. But we all know that He has a plan for individuals. What we need to do is to trust Him fully and acknowledge Him faithfully because He knows our personal needs and concerns. Remember my friend – Christ will carry us. “O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12

*** How Do I Know That I Am Secured In God’s Hands? She believed that she did not need any help from her parents, but rather she preferred to assist them. Yvette Quiambao acknowledged that she was an eccentric person, and had a strong personality. Though her family was Christian, there was something that puzzled her. Her family accorded greater

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Part respect to the educated and wealthy but less respect to those who were religious. Her security was based on finances and not absolutely on Him. There was a time when she questioned why God allowed ungodly people to become wealthy but not His servants. She felt that God was unjust. She even doubted God’s answer for those who prayed to Him. She did believe that riches came from God but she did not have any. She also felt that she was not taken care of by her Heavenly Father. In addition, she felt God abandoned her. Nevertheless, when she remembered and sang the hymns entitled, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?” and “It Is Well With My Soul,” she realized that she was not alone. Thus, she was comforted by the lyrics. Now, she understands that she is secured in God’s hands. Before the death of Moses, he gave blessings to the Israelites. About Benjamin, he said, “Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12) This passage indicates that God secures and protects His people forever. This is His promise, not only for Benjamin, but also for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Joshua 24:17, the Israelites acknowledged that God protected them all the way on their journey and from all the nations through which they traveled. God brought them and their fathers out of Egypt, the land of slavery. 32


In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us By way of illustration, David went into the cave because King Saul was trying to kill him. At that time, he was able to write Psalm 57, a psalm of prayer for deliverance. Verse 1b notes: “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” The psalmist wanted to be closer to God until his difficulties were over. He used a metaphor to illustrate God’s protection. It is just like a hen protecting her young from the animals that would like to harm or devour them. By her closeness to her young, the hen assures them that they are under her protection. In Psalm 31:15, David writes, “my times are in your hands.” For the psalmist, he was entrusting all the circumstances of his life in the hands of the LORD, because David knew he was well protected under God’s care. Therefore, we should not be afraid that God has abandoned us. Instead, we should hold on to His promises that He cares for us, and He will not leave us. “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

*** Can I Still Praise Him Even in My Times of Trouble? In September 2003, Cynthia Medrana was so afraid to read the results of the physical examination of her father which she took from the hospital. She was in a public utility jeepney

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Part when she decided to read it. After reading the results, she had a mental block. She did not know what to do. She did not know whether she should go down from the jeep. At that moment, she cried because the physical examination results showed that her father has colon cancer. She questioned, “Why my father, Lord? I have been very close to him and have enjoyed being with him. We laughed together. We went out together. Why him, God?” She was frustrated. A lot of times, she could not eat her meals on time. Nonetheless, she had to face reality and try to be positive to learn something from the problem. When she was contemplating on God’s Word, she read Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” She knew God was with her. She also knew that He had a purpose. But at that time, she had no idea about the specific plan of the Lord. All she knew was that she could try to comfort and encourage other people who were also facing similar troubles in life. How about you? Well, it is easy for us to praise God when we are about to get our promotion, receive a salary increase, or a gift from our spouse. But when you are facing difficulty such as sickness, a sour relationship with your partner, unemployment, or financial crisis, are you able to praise God? When David was being pursued by the men of King Saul, the psalmist requested God to deliver him from his enemies (Psalm 59:1). Although he was dismayed, he was able to affirm that God was his Strength, Fortress, and Refuge in 34


In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us difficult times. He writes, “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, and loving God.” (Psalm 59:16,17) Psalms 42:11 and 43:5 state, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him my Savior and my God.” Our feelings dictate our actions but the truth about God cannot be changed. That was why even when David expressed his frustration and distress toward God, he still uplifted and exalted the name of the LORD. With regard to the Apostle Paul who was in prison at Rome, he was able to write letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. Struggling inside the prison, he could still lift up the name of God. He praised God, the Father of Jesus Christ, who has blessed every believer with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). He was able to thank God for rescuing them from the dominion of darkness and brought them into the kingdom of God’s Son (Colossians 1:13). And he also exalted the supremacy of Christ as the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” Psalm 7:17

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Part

In What Way Can I Give Glory to God? There was a retrenchment in his office. Willy Co, together with his co-senior officers, was laid off. His wife, Janet, has not been working for more than three years. Both of them were no longer receiving any regular income. Today, they do have a small business but this is not enough to support all the needs of their family. Nevertheless, they still praise God because they are surviving. It was only their lifestyle that has changed. But they know God has a purpose. They became more dependent on Him for their daily needs. Willy has learned to stand firm on the promises of the Almighty God. Janet was reassured by Jesus Christ that He will not forsake them. Currently, they are involved in the choir and missions ministries. These are the ways they can give glory to the all-powerful God. King David had reason to extol the LORD at all times. He encouraged others to glorify the LORD with him because God is close to the broken hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. And the LORD delivers a righteous man from all his troubles. (Psalm 34:1-3,18,19) The psalmist emphasizes God’s concern in our times of trouble. He states as God is speaking: “and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15) When we face difficulty and adversity in life, we can come before Him and talk with Him directly. He assures us that He will rescue us from our crises, and we will give Him glory.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

When Lazarus was dying, his sisters, Martha and Mary, sent a message to Jesus about the plight of Lazarus. But when Jesus heard it, he said that the sickness would not end in death; it is for God’s glory so that the Son of God may be glorified (John 11:1-4). When Jesus arrived, He found out that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days (John 11:7). It was at that time when he comforted the sisters. Even at the time of mourning, after Martha conversed with Christ, she went back to their house and called her sister, Mary, and told her that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the grave, many of the Jews who saw the event put their faith in Him (John 11:45). I am sure that you will agree with me that the sisters were so happy and grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did they express and give glory to Christ, they also demonstrated it by serving Jesus. Martha served while Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair (John 12:1-3). These two sisters demonstrated how they loved Jesus Christ. Psalm 145:1-2 tells us: “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise and extol your name for ever and ever.”, and in verse 21, “My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” While in a song of praise to the LORD, Isaiah said in chapter 42, verse 12: “Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands.”

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Part In the light of these passages, just like King David and Isaiah, everyone has the privilege of uplifting God’s name exalting and praising Him as our Holy King. I do believe that in any difficulty, we could be able to ponder on God’s unconditional love and the meaning of Christ’s suffering. As a result, we give glory to Him and magnify His name, for He is the God of all comfort. Oh, how good it is praise and worship God! We are honored to proclaim and demonstrate the goodness and faithfulness of our God in times of trouble. “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

PART TWO

COMFORTING PRAYERS FROM OUR BRETHREN

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Part It was all by God’s grace that I was able to say: I praise you and love you Lord even if my son Patrick is dying. I praise you and love you Lord even if Patrick has a lot of needles in his arms and legs, and gadgets in his mouth. I love you and praise you Lord even as I watch Patrick suffer in great pain and see tears flow from his eyes. I praise you and love you Lord even if the rest of the patients in the ICU have already died, and perhaps Patrick would be the next. I love you Lord even if I am sleepless and tired. I love you Lord even if I do not know where to get the money for Patrick’s medicines. I praise you Lord even if I would sleep in the hallway or path walk of the hospital using a “karton ng sardines.” I praise you Lord even if I had to say “kunin mo na siya Panginoon.” I praise you Lord even if people do not know what they are saying about my present situation. I praise you Lord for opening my eyes so I could see that still there is a lot in my life that I can be thankful for. I love you Lord because you have taught me to express whatever emotion I have inside and not be afraid that you might condemn or scold me. I praise you Lord because it was you all the while who strengthened me so I could say I Praise and Love You Lord.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

Samuel U. Evangelista Lord, I just thought I couldn’t change because of my failures and disobedience. Somehow I felt totally hopeless about my situation. Oh how I wasted time, opportunities and some of your blessings. Oh how anxiety crept in time and time again. But I know who You are Lord. Many times I have wandered away from you but your love still pursues and finds me. Where can I go from your presence? Your stubborn love always revives me. Although I know I deserve to be punished, You always make me aware of your amazing love. Lord, I know I have to deny myself to be able to obey you and follow your will for me. But sometimes I am afraid I cannot do it. Lord, You know I only depend on your grace and love as I have to make a choice for you. Lord, just always stay with me please. Please don’t ever let go of me. I know I’m so unworthy of Your love, but You are the only reason and joy why I still keep going on in this life. You are the only hiding place and home that I can ever have. This New Year oh Lord, let me forget all the failures I have had so I can press on toward the future as you have promised

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Part (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Lord, I am sorry. Renew my mind and spirit. Heaven knows how I long to love you. Though my heart will sometimes falter, Lord, I will always hope in You. I love You, Jesus. You know that.

*** Emile Justin F. Godoy Dear God, Help us to be effective in facing life better by forgiving and letting go of the past. Give us our glorious events, financial breakthroughs and the fulfillment of our dreams. In our deepest need, give us the grace to stay calm. Be the Lord of our present situation, protect, and comfort us. Help us hope again!

*** Emily M. Maglanoc God, I have been asking you to provide for my needs and grant my wishes. But you have been so slow in answering them. Through my experiences, I have acknowledged that difficulties, inconveniences, and pain will always be a part of my life.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us So, for the first time, let me change my request. I pray that you may give me peace and joy in spite of the pain. In that way I am already armed and protected from the sting of my predicaments. Give me a cheerful and thankful spirit.

*** Yvette M. Quiambao I personally pray that we would not be merely in the act of prayer but more dependent or even completely dependent on God. I pray that we would not be timid nor lose heart when we are afraid, but see the opportunity to experience the mighty power of God when our strength is not enough. I pray that we would not waste time worrying about many things in life, but be confident in the love of God who would carry us through not only at this particular time but at all times. I pray that we would not only intellectually learn about God but learn of God – who He is and what He is doing, and develop a deeper conviction in the process. I pray that we see things as more than just “Christian ministry” but rather as “God at work.” I pray that it should not be our goal to increase church membership but primarily to deepen our faith and walk with

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Part God so that people will be attracted to the Gospel through our lives.

*** Ross William S. Tan Abba! Father! Dad! Thank You that I can address You as just that – my Dad. There’s a sense of security when I call You my Father – You are my Restorer, my Refuge, my Guide, my Provider! As a father awaits his child to come home, You would wait for me when I have wandered away. You don’t ask me for lengthy explanations. All You need to see is a repentant heart. And You extend Your grace – Your amazing grace to me. You restore me and I am whole once again. As a father puts up a safe refuge for the family, so do I find a sanctuary in Your presence When some unsettling issues are at the door, You embrace me in Your arms and say, “I will be Your refuge and strength Your very present help in your time of trouble” As a father counsels his children in the way they should go, You guide me in the path that I should take when the way seems dark and doubts set in. You take my hand and lead me towards Your plan. You assure me that I’m headed in the right direction. For You are the One who’s driving my life.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

As a father provides for his family’s needs, You are the Faithful One who gives at the proper time. In my human frailty I ask how You’d provide with a smile on Your face You’d tell me, “My daughter, don’t You realize that I own everything?” With that, I need not worry or be anxious anymore.

*** Louella A. Chua Here I am again my Love, Back to where you have rescued me. Here I am again my Love, In need of your deliverance when I have committed to You all of my days. I climbed the steps my own way, I tried to win the battle on my own. I fooled myself into believing that I possess the fortitude to conquer my enemies, even the culprit within myself. I found false salvage in my own cave; Believed that I can mend my own wounds assumed that I have the strength to get my footing back on my so-called firm ground. Here I am broken before You now my Love, Deep in shame and truly unworthy of Your compassion. Would You accept this fallen child? Turn towards me My Love, I surrender this fight to you, Break me down until You are real to me, until I experience

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Part You, until I abandon my self. Turn your eyes towards me my Love, I long for my self to die every day... until only You remain in me. Turn your mercy towards me my Love, Forgive me of my shortcomings. Oh how You amaze me with Your heart, with how You love. Indeed Your ways are far from our weak human ways. Awesome love! Unfathomable grace! Indescribable peace! The joy of being Your child! The miracle of Your remission! My Love, Your Perfection in every way will forever be my anthem. Amen.

*** Cherry Blossom Basque単a Am I disappointed, O my soul? Am I in grief? Do you want to be rescued by God? Turn my mourning, O Lord, into gladness. Turn my sorrow into joy. My Lord, I seek justice. You remind me that the battle is Yours and not mine. Yes Lord, You are my Savior and Defender. And You assure me of deliverance from my enemies. I will hold on to Your Word because it stands forever. I will rely on Your plan because its stands firm forever. Do not be afraid, O my soul! Do not be discouraged! Our God will rescue you, and He will give you victory.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us He will not fail you nor forsake you. Those who oppress you will be put to shame. And God will punish them. Do not put trust in men for they may cause confusion. Trust in God and He will carry you.

***

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Part ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Alwin B. De Leon is a community development practitioner, consultant, trainer, facilitator, and lecturer. He has been working with the depressed communities for more than twelve years. He is also the author of the book, “Practicing Community Development Principles in our Barangays.� He holds a Ph.D. in Development Administration from the Philippine Christian University. He finished his Master of Educational Ministries at the Alliance Graduate School (formerly known as Alliance Biblical Seminary). He is a member of Greenhills Christian Fellowship Ortigas Center. He is involved with growth groups such as Living Epistles Growth Group (LEGG), and Young Adult Christian in Every Situation (YACIES Monday). In addition, he is one of the founding members of a Christian organization that disciples the marketplace called LifeBridge.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

eQUILIBRIUM DEVELOMPMENT MANAGEMENT CONSULTING

“Balancing Productivity with Performance” VISION To see every client organization be recognized as highly respected and well balanced establishment MISSION To assist clients create healthy working environment and turn into high performance organizations SERVICES OFFERED Coaching, mentoring and training AREAS OF SERVICES 1. Strategic Management and Development • Corporate Values • Strategic Planning • Reengineering Management • Organizational Development • Leadership and Management Development 2. Human Resources Development • Teambuilding • Conflict Resolution • Personality Development • Performance Enhancement • Stress and Time Management

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Part 3. Corporate Social Responsibility • Grant Writing • Project Funding • Participatory Learning and Action • Project Management and Development • Community Organization and Development CONTACT Alwin B. De Leon, Ph.D. International Development Consultant Philippines Mobile: +63 917 5318492 Email: alwin@alwindeleonphd.com Website: www.alwindeleonphd.com

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

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Part “By design, this is a brief and handy booklet to keep for personal use and to give to others. During these troubled times in which we live, everybody needs comfort and assurance that God is in control. My colleague, Dr. Alwin De Leon, has done us a favor by putting these insights together from selected Bible texts.”

Dr. Luis L. Pantoja, Jr.

Senior Pastor - Greenhills Christian Fellowship

“The issue on suffering and evil is both an intellectual and emotional problem. The rational part concerns the explanation of the existence of a powerful God and suffering altogether while the emotional side guides the sufferer to discover hope with the intention to ease out the feeling of dislike on God who would permit such evil. Dr. De Leon’s reflection belongs to this second approach and it is a welcome contribution.”

Dr. Jonathan V. Exiomo

President - Alliance Graduate School

*** ABOUT THE BOOK This inspirational booklet deals with ten common questions we ask when we are troubled. It also includes a collection of prayers made by Christians who faced struggles in life and were comforted by God. The author’s intention is to comfort the troubled by sharing with them that the God we worship and serve is the God of all comfort.

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In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us  

In Times of Trouble - God Comforts Us

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