Finding God in Hard Places

Our faith in God, should inform our daily lives. Knowing who God is in His character should be reflected in the way we conduct ourselves, particularly with the next generations. 

Our understanding of God and His truth should inform our discussion,
 guide our actions and influence our thinking. Our daily lives should   have the evidence of who God is. (Deut. 6:4-9) 

Jesus would summarize all of what Moses said with this command to us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all our soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And love your neighbour as yourself.”


This isn’t easy. Our hearts can easily be drawn to other affections; our soul can distracted by busyness and false sense of success, and our mind can be consumed with worry and fear. It’s no wonder that we find it hard to love others, because we’re not experiencing or receiving the love of God for us. We may even believe that God doesn’t love us, because we’ve allowed our focus, and goals to shift to other objects that leave no lasting fulfillment. Perhaps we've allowed the circumstances of life to overwhelm us and blind us to His presence in and around us. 


Life is full of hard places. But God is greater. Understanding who He is and how He is already intersecting and involved in our lives allows us to grow in our love for him, as we place our faith in Jesus Christ. Understanding how God loves us and responding to His love, allows us to truly love others, and help them to recognize the evidence of His love in their lives. This is crucial and much needed. 


Why? – Because Life is full of hard places.


Let me tell you the story of a man named Manuel. I met him for the first time one week ago. I saw him for likely the last time, two days ago. In the time it took on one hot dusty morning, on an El Salvadoran mountainside, to build his house, our team learned why it was so important to love God. 


He’s a big, strong man, who daily cares for a herd of cattle. Manuel is a farmer who also likes to milk the cows.  He gets up at 4 am every day to go to work for another farmer.  He comes home by 4:30 and goes to bed by 7-8. He rises the next day and does the same thing. He’s a hard working man, who rarely gets a day off. 


One of the mantras of our cultural religion of success is that if you work hard enough you’ll be successful and you can become anything you want to be. It’s just not true. If your small ‘g’ god is success, you will tire yourself out and lose yourself in it. 

Does God love Manuel? Does God want the best for Manuel?


Before you answer, let me tell you a little more: 


Manuel’s wife passed away, unexpectedly, 4 years ago…


He is now a single father of his son Eric, who is 9 and is going into grade 4. Eric loves to go to work with his dad and milk the cows.  He actually adores his father. And his father has an incredible compassionate love for his son. 


Living where they do, and experiencing what they have, and by virtue of catching glimpses of how others in the world live, it was obvious that Manuel was carrying a weight in his soul.  We could look at him and understand, without words of translation, the query of his heart: “If God loves me, why is this so hard?”


If we believe in God, how do we deal with or respond to these circumstances of life?


The foundation upon which his house would be built was a hard place. It took a lot of effort for the community of people who shared in this. As Manuel dug holes for his house, and helped put the walls together, there was something very purposeful in the energy and the care with which he went about things. Everything was done well. He carefully threw dirt from one side to the next to level out the floor of his home, and he worked with his son, so that they could share the experience together.  


It was in this and through what he told us about his life, that we could then remind him that God sees him, and that God has being hearing his prayers, and that God loves him and his son so much that He moved some people, thousands of kilometers, to remind him of His worth, even in his circumstances. 

For God has given him a capacity to work hard without complaining, according to the rhythm of his creation, from morning until night (Genesis 1:5). He reflected the goodness of God’s original design for us. Manuel has given his son an example, not only of these things but of compassionate selflessness. And in these things we were all reminded that God wasn’t absent from Him, but fully present. 


It was in this realization that we could invite him to place his faith in the God who so loved him, that he, God, gave Jesus, His one and only Son, so that if he believed in Him, he would not perish or be destroyed by the god of success, but would find eternal life (John 3:16). Understanding the love of God and responding to the love of God would give him the daily strength and the eternal hope to grow in reflecting this love to his son, Eric, and to others, even if his circumstances never changed. In his posture and in his response, this big and strong Salvadoran, released his grief, overwhelmed by the presence and love of God. 

Life is full of hard places. But God is greater. Understanding who He is and how He is already intersecting and involved in our lives allows us to grow in our love for him, as we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We found God in a hard place and we pray that Manuel did as well.

(you can find out more about this work at:

(if you’re interested in participating on one of these teams then please contact me.)

(if you want to contribute to one of the teams that I am leading you can do so here: 



  1. It was wonderful to be there in person to experience this story. Thank you for capturing it so eloquently! May God continue to work in their lives.


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