Have you ever been away from home and found yourself without cash? I had that experience when I left home to attend university, and I got so distressed that I couldn’t sleep.
Suddenly it occurred to me to write my father. I should have budgeted more carefully, of course, but I knew he would understand. What a relief it was when I made that decision! My father had helped me many times before, and I knew he would help me again. I had perfect assurance during the days it took that letter to reach home and the answer to come back. [Editor’s note: This took place over 100 years ago, before email and even widespread use of the telephone.] I had needed to ask for an extra allowance, but I knew it would come. And it did.
We’ve all experienced days when sudden trouble swept down on us and our strength gave way. We looked around, but there was no way out. Then we turned to God and asked Him for an extra allowance.
Perhaps you know what it is like to have His help from day to day, and you depend upon that help and are grateful. But when God tells us, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you,”1 He is speaking of something beyond that. This is extra help in extraordinary circumstances—extra strength when we are especially weak, extra material supply when we have extra needs, extra grace when we’re under extra strain, extra wisdom when we need it, and extra love when others need to feel God’s love through us. We turn to our heavenly Father, and He gives the extra allowance we need at the time to overcome that particular trouble.
I’ve heard people say, “God has promised to be with us in trouble, but He never promised to free us from trouble.” Those people need to read that verse more carefully. He may not free them as quickly as they would like or in the way they expect, but He does promise deliverance: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” He promises both.
Surely God was with Daniel in the lion’s den, but He also delivered him out of the den.2 We know He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace because King Nebuchadnezzar said he saw four figures in the flames—“and the form of the fourth [was] like the Son of God”3—but God also delivered them out of it.
When we have troubles that God doesn’t deliver us from immediately, it’s usually because we aren’t ready to be delivered; there is something we need to do first, or some lesson we need to learn. Once we have found and done or learned that, He does deliver us.
I’ve gone through times when I was so discouraged about my failures that I couldn’t call on God at that moment. But when I got my eyes off of my faults and weaknesses and onto God’s promises, He delivered me; the extra allowance was mine as soon as I asked for it.
There is lots of advice floating around about how to overcome difficulties. “Dance your troubles away.” “Just keep smiling.” “Look for something pretty every day.” “Do something nice for someone else.” Well, I certainly believe in being positive and doing nice things for others, and those will get your mind off your troubles, but they won’t necessarily get you out of deep trouble.
There was a time, before I had a personal relationship with Jesus, when I was a helpless invalid. Someone who had even less faith than I did kept telling me, “Hold on. Just hold on.” But that was the trouble—I didn’t have anything to hold onto! But thank God, as believers we don’t just have something to hold onto; we have someone to hold onto! “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”4
One day my car stalled on a lonely road. I was alone and quite desperate, when suddenly I remembered that not far away lived a former friend. I say “former” because although I often thought about this woman, it had been quite awhile since I’d made time to visit or phone her. I knew she would be happy to help, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk up to her house and ask because I had neglected her for so long. I sat in the car and tried to get up the courage, but I never did.
It can be like that when we fail to include God in our thoughts and activities day after day, when we fail to ask His advice and help in the little things, or thank Him for His goodness, or make time to draw inspiration and learn from His Word. If we’ve been neglecting Him, it’s pretty hard to call on Him in the day of trouble. It’s hard and it’s humbling, but it’s a whole lot better than continuing to struggle. Our heavenly Father is always there, only a prayer away, waiting to forgive and give us that extra allowance.
Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of Family International founder David Brandt Berg and a renowned evangelist and pastor. For 15 years she hosted the gospel radio show Meditation Moments. This article is an edited transcript of one of her broadcasts.