Download PDF


Hanging on in God’s Apparent Absence

May 2, 2020


Long ago, in the days of sailing ships, a terrible storm arose, and a ship was lost in a deserted area. Only one crewman survived, washed up on a small uninhabited island. In his desperation the castaway daily prayed to God for help and deliverance from his lonely existence. Each day he looked for a passing ship and saw nothing. Eventually he managed to build a crude hut, in which he stored a few things he had recovered from the wreck and those things he had made.

One day, as the sailor was returning from his daily search for food, he saw a column of smoke. As he ran to it he saw his hut in flames. All was lost. Now not only was he alone, but he had nothing to help him in his struggle for survival. Stunned and nearly overcome with grief and despair, he fell into a deep depression and spent a nearly sleepless night wondering what was to become of him and questioning whether life itself was even worth the effort.

The next morning he arose early and went down to the sea. There, to his amazement, he saw a ship lying offshore and a small boat rowing toward him. When the once-marooned man met the ship’s captain, he asked him how he had known to send help. The captain replied, “Why, we saw your smoke signal yesterday, but by the time we drew close the tide was against us. So we had to wait until now to come and get you.”—Michael Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1989), pp. 381, 382.




Memory Text: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).

Our Beliefs, no. 8, The Great Controversy: “All humanity is now involved in a great controversy between Christ and Satan regarding the character of God, His law, and His sovereignty over the universe. . . . To assist His people in this controversy, Christ sends the Holy Spirit and the loyal angels to guide, protect, and sustain them in the way of salvation.”

Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 104, 105.




Read John 16:33.

Dominic came home from his mother’s funeral today. His mother was only 34 and died suddenly of a rare virus. Sitting in his room amid all the pain and loss he feels, he is troubled by some of the things people said to him at the funeral. One person quoted Romans 8:28 to him, saying that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (NIV). Another mentioned that his mother’s death must have been part of God’s will. While there were many compassionate words spoken, these statements troubled him. How could this work for good? How could this be God’s will? If this is what God is like and this is what His will is, I want nothing to do with it or Him! What would you say to him if you could write him a letter as he sits in his room?




Read Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 5:8-10.

For 6,000 years the great conflict between good and evil has been going on between God and Satan. Even though we are sinners, God is with us. Every day He helps us fight our battles over selfishness and helps us to put the needs of others before our own. Satan brought sin and ruin to our planet. But when we accept God’s gift of grace, He covers us with the righteousness of Jesus. It is important that we prepare ourselves in this controversy so we may overcome temptation and remain faithful children of God.

What steps are you taking to make sure you remain faithful to God?

Chose one of the activities below and complete it. Get some paper and draw a series of pictures to illustrate Romans 5:18, 19.

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

Rewrite Romans 5:18, 19 in your own words.




Read Romans 8:28.

We could make a list of all the things we know about God. He is the Creator. He loves us. He created us with free will. He hears and answers all prayers. Sometimes we receive what we prayed for. Other times God knows what we prayed for isn’t for our best and He says no. And there are times we just must wait. He lived and died for you and me. He is preparing a place for us in heaven. He is coming again, and we will be with Him forever. Heaven will be perfect. We will finally understand how evil and sin (rebellion against God) brought disastrous consequences into our world. We will hate evil and sin so much that we will never choose to sin again.

And there are many things we don’t know. It’s difficult to understand when bad things happen to us. We know it is because of sin in the world, yet we might still wonder, “Why me?”

Are you allowing something you don’t understand to keep you from believing and following God? Do you know exactly how the Internet works? Does the lack of understanding how something works keep you from using it?

We shouldn’t let what we don’t know confuse what we do know. Think about how Joseph must have felt when he was sold into slavery by his brothers! Genesis 39:1, 2, 20, 21 says that when Joseph’s life hit rock bottom again and again, the Lord was with him. Do you remember how God used him to save the Egyptians and the Israelites? The same God promises to be with you.




Look up the Bible references below and choose the correct match. All the Bible texts are from the New International Version of the Bible.

Matthew 5:43-45
James 1:2-4
Job 42:1-5
John 16:33
Romans 8:28
Job 34:10-12
1 Corinthians 10:13

1. “All things God works for the good of those who love him.”
2. “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”
3. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
4. “In this world you will have trouble.”
5. “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
6. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.”
7. “So listen to me, you men of understanding.”




Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Being prepared for what may come is very important. When things are going well and are peaceful is the time to prepare for trying times. How do we prepare for difficulties? By studying, praying, and memorizing scripture so that when the difficult days come, you will have a tight hold on God! It’s like having a smooth rope and tying knots in the rope so you have good handholds in your rope. Trouble comes to all of us at some time. You want to be sure that when it comes to you, you won’t lose your hold on God.

And in your moments of pain, anger, frustration, and confusion, know that God will be right beside you. God has promised to be with us in trouble and to deliver us. Sometimes we might not see or understand how we are being delivered, but we can know for sure that God is helping us (see Psalm 91:15). Just remember that no matter what is happening, hold on to God—don’t let go.

Jesus Himself cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He heard no answer. But there was an answer. It came three days later when God the Father called His Son out of the tomb. Jesus will be with you through your trial. Even if you don’t feel as if He is there, He is. And you will be stronger, sing louder, believe more fully, and know that your Father never let go of you. It is your choice—will you hold on to God no matter what is happening in your life?




Read James 1:2-4.

Write what you know to be true about God on the numbered lines. Find and choose five Bible texts that encourage you when you face trials and hardships. Write the references beside the knots on the rope. And when hard times come, use these Bible verses to help you trust in God.