‘God Knows Your Heartaches’

By   •   November 3, 2010

November 2010: In a few days I’ll be 92. I would have never dreamed I would live this long. My wife, Ruth, passed away a little over three years ago, and a little bit of me died with her. I miss her more with each passing day. This was Ruth’s favorite time of year. She enjoyed watching the leaves turn and couldn’t wait to build a fire at the first hint of autumn. Always joyful, Ruth brightened up the darkest of days.

Foreboding clouds darken the world this side of Heaven as controversy swirls over the debate “who is a Christian.” USA Today ran an article last month by a professor from the University of Chicago stating, “America’s fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief.” Confronted with the myriad of religions in the world, it isn’t difficult to see why people are finding it easier to accept them all–or none at all.

But having faith in religion only clouds the truth. It brings greater confusion and deeper doubt, because religion can be anything! The Bible indeed sheds light on this dilemma that stirs in the human soul and carries the truth of redemption by the death of our Savior and His glorious resurrection. This is truth–God coming to man in a personal relationship. This is why He sent His Son to earth to redeem the human soul from sin that leads to despair.

The Bible says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7–8, NIV).

Recently Dr. Mark O’Farrell, president of Trinity College in Florida (where I attended Bible school as a young man), sent me the school’s newsletter with a wonderful insight from Scripture. He is graciously allowing me to share this tremendous spiritual application with you as to the state of despair that so many are experiencing today.

The Bible tells of the children of Israel who were enslaved in Egypt. One of their major tasks was to make bricks by an ancient process that required mixing clay and straw. The Egyptian taskmasters stopped providing the necessary straw, ordering the laborers to find their own straw, but with no adjustment in the quota of bricks they were required to produce. What was necessary to accomplish the work was taken away even though the expectation and demands remained the same.

Have you experienced this kind of despair–having to make bricks without straw? The income is no longer there, but the bills keep coming. Resources and workers are cut, but not the workload. Age or health robs strength, but life’s duties remain. A wife or husband is gone, yet family responsibilities continue. What is your straw that has been taken away even though you must somehow still complete the task or fulfill the responsibility?

The Bible says, “The people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. … God heard their groaning. … God saw the people of Israel–and God knew” (Exodus 2:23–25, ESV). God knows your heartaches! He hears you when you cry to Him. He knows that your straw has been taken away. He knows your hurt, your fear and groaning. He knows! And He is doing something about it. “I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them” (Exodus 3:7).

The Deliverer is on the way! How God acts on your behalf may not be exactly the way you envision, and His timing may not be what you prefer, but He knows your situation and He remembers His promises to you.

Going through hardship tends to plow up the surface of our lives to uncover the depths that provide greater strength of purpose. Deeply plowed earth yields bountiful harvests. When difficulties come we must learn to entrust each day into God’s hands and express our thanks to the Lord for never leaving us alone. I have talked with many over the years who have fallen on hard times but found light in the darkness while expressing thankfulness to God.

As we approach the Thanksgiving season I am reminded of the many commands in God’s Word to be thankful in all things. “Begin the thanksgiving in prayer” (Nehemiah 11:17, KJV); “Come into his presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2, ESV); and then the Scripture urges us to “Continue in prayer … with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2, KJV).

There is no better time than now to thank all those who have stood with us in prayer and support in the work God is doing through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I am grateful for each one who joins with us in reaching out to where the Gospel seed is being sown. There remain nations to be cultivated and souls to be redeemed. There are harvest lands of great promise.

I long to tell more people about God’s truth and the salvation it brings when people repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ who loves us and longs to hear our lips praise Him for the mighty works He has done. Perhaps the Lord will strengthen me in the coming year to once again stand with Bible in hand to declare with thanksgiving that salvation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, rich in mercy and love. The Bible says, “For [God’s] mercy reaches unto the heavens, and [His] truth unto the clouds” (Psalm 57:10, NKJV).

May God bless you,
Billy Graham

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275 Comments

  1. jack and emily says:

    Happy Birthday from all of us here at the Seattle B.G.E.A telephone center. God bless you. The harvest continues.

  2. Lisa says:

    May you have a Happy Birthday Dr. Billy Graham. I'm so thankful to God for your ministry and for standing up for God's Truth all these many years. I read one of Ruth's books, “It's My Turn”, and I enjoyed it very much…it's easy to see why you could miss her. I think God gave you a perfect help meet….Thank you for serving Jesus–you are still very needed….for you are a source of Great Light and Strength for us Christians who are in this generation….when times seem to be growing darker…in the world. We need to get back to Jesus. Just to seek Him again….in our Nation. True Repentence at the highest levels. From our President on Down—Like they did in Ninevah in the book of Jonah! I love you and your family….you are a great voice for Christ in this World….may you have many more birthdays and the strength to preach…..God Bless You!!!! Your children are doing a superb job in living up to the standards you instilled in them. They are great Christian examples. Thank you and God Bless you Dr. Billy Graham….”Happy Birthday”!!!!

  3. Tom says:

    Just reading the overwhelming response to this article tells me that Christ is alive and well. May God bless us all.

  4. Faye says:

    Dear Dr. Graham, Thank you for that encouraging message. I watch your messages on TBN every Saturday night. Last night my grandson Nicholas 13 yrs old watched with me. It was 1975 in Lubbock, Texas. A youth rally. He commented that sounds like today too. You and your family are a blessing to me. My husband passed away 6 yrs ago, so i understand how you miss Ruth. God Bless You and your Family this Holiday Season. PS Happy Birthday

  5. Arlene says:

    I thank God for you life and your ministry Dr.Graham in my daily prayers and for Samaritan's Purse and your son Franklin Graham. I visited your library in North Carolina last year and was trully blessed. “I am still under construction”. Praise the Lord.

  6. Judy says:

    Thank you so much, Billy Graham, and the Lord bless you abundantly on your Birthday and this time of Thanks-giving. You have been a 'tremendous' blessing to me over the years and I thank you for your obedience to God and His word. You have touched more people for the kingdom than one can even imagine – like the stars in the heavens. Blessings, and a fresh anointing in Him, Judy

  7. John says:

    I thank you, Dr. Graham for reminding me to be thankful and for the encouraging words. Our focus must be on Christ, Him alone, with gratitude, praise and thanksgiving in our hearts for the precious blood that saves us and make our sins as white as snow! Thank you Jesus Christ lover of my (our) soul(s)!

  8. Garry says:

    Happy Birthday Dr. Graham, and may God continue to bless you and your ministry abundantly to His praise and glory. May you continue to guide many more countless souls to the Shepherd's fold through His Holy Spirit within you. I thank God for you; may He continue to bless and keep you.

  9. kathy says:

    Thank you for your message. I too feel like crying and now I know all I need to do is cry to the Lord. He will help me with my situation and show me how to handle it. Thank you Lord that this message will be the perfect one to share with my children. Dear Lord bless our words to be what you want to hear, In Jesus Name amen.

  10. Clayton says:

    Hello Mr. Graham. I was at Oriole Park in Baltimore when you last preached and I took a picture of the screen right before you signed off. I have it on my myspace site as the main picture. I am waiting for another picture of you preaching again to a crowd so I can include that one also. Thanks for being an inspiration.