When Bill and I were going through the pain of infertility, my mother gave me a copy of William Young’s novel, The Shack. It tells the story of Mack, a father who suffers deep personal loss after his young daughter is murdered by a serial killer. Bereft and alone, he receives a mysterious note from “Papa”, his wife’s name for God. Over the course of the story, Mack learns that he is not alone; God has not abandoned him even during the worst pain he has ever experienced. This book is one of the most profound I’ve ever read, and it taught me that suffering doesn’t separate us from God unless we choose for it to. Isaiah addressed the suffering of his people when he spoke God’s words : “Do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are mind. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43: 2, 5 NIV). Since the time of the flood and Moses’ journey through the desert to Jesus’ suffering on the cross, we have questioned God’s presence in our lives in times of trouble, but his promise to protect and walk with us exists despite our doubts. Our grief and pain may hide His presence but it is always there, and His love carries us through worldly darkness into the light of His heavenly kingdom.