Annie Johnson Flint was crippled by severe arthritis just a few years after high school. She never walked again and relied on others to help care for her needs. Because of her poetry and hymns, she received many visitors, including a deaconess who felt discouraged about her own ministry. When the visitor returned home, she wrote to Annie, wondering why God allowed such hard things in her life.
In response, Annie sent a poem: “God hath not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through. . . .” She knew from experience that suffering often occurred, but that God would never abandon those He loves. Instead He promised to give “grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.” You may recognize that poem as the hymn “What God Hath Promised.”
Moses also suffered and faced strife, but He knew God’s presence was with him. When he passed his leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, he told the younger man to be strong and courageous, because “the Lord your God goes with you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Moses, knowing that the people of Israel would face formidable enemies as they entered and took the Promised Land, said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (v. 8).
Disciples of Christ will face hardship and strife in this fallen world, but we have God’s Spirit to comfort and encourage us. He will never leave us.