As I close my front door at the end of a long summer day, I lean back and breathe a sigh of frustration—a sigh of relief and exhaustion. Why had things happened the way they had today?

I climb the stairs wondering if I even have the energy to make it to my bed. I fall asleep in my clothes and wake up in the middle of the night holding back tears, because I feel utterly defeated. I’ve always shared how great ministry is as well as the harsh reality of the inner city. But, there are days, weeks and even months where this ministry is messy, where life is messy. There are seemingly unanswered prayers and unanswered questions. There are times where waves of doubt and pain seem keen on drowning my soul. These moments in ministry can be filled with loneliness, with feelings of being let down and with questions like, “Why God?”

But even in these moments, God is still with me. Here’s how I know.

I’ve been having one of those weeks, maybe even months—a period in time where I know God is doing something and it’s going to be huge, but it currently feels far away. These challenging times are where we feel “this close” to answered prayers, but the answers aren’t happening right away.

There have been moments of defeat. There have been nights where I think I’m failing at what God has called me to do. Words uttered by a frustrated kid, “I hate you, Ms. Colleen. You never do anything for me,” hurts but can remind me of why I am here. And yes, it breaks my heart for a brief moment at the same time. There have been nights I’ve sat in bed wrapped in a throw blanket with a cup of hot tea, my Bible and my journal writing out my prayers and wondering if God was listening. There have been moments when I’ve wanted to ignore the knocks on the door, moments of pure exhaustion and moments where hard decisions had to be made.

But you know what there has not been? There has not been a God who’s failed me or left me alone. There has not been a God who has let me down. There has not been a God who’s told me life is going to be easy. And there has not been a God who has promised rose-colored circumstances. Instead, He has picked me up and given me energy when I feel like I can’t take one more step. He has filled my heart with joy when it feels overwhelmed. He has consistently reminded me He will not fail me and that this place is exactly where I need to be right now.

My life is not horrible. It’s really quite the opposite. But life isn’t always sidewalk chalk and laughter in the hood! The harder moments, the often “too-real” moments are also the moments where I realize I am human, life is real and ministry is hard. And I am allowed to have these moments because they illuminate God’s faithfulness.

God never lets us go. He’s got a perfect love that will never fail us, that will never leave nor forsake us even when we might be tough to love or feel discouraged.

If I have learned anything over the past few weeks, it’s these three things:

  1. God is faithful.
    “I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:10).
  2. His promises are strong.
    Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
  3. We’re broken and need God to restore us.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

Continue to cling to the faithfulness God promises. His word is true. Every time I’ve found myself in my Bible, I’m reminded my Father is there, that His promises are strong and that when I am weary He will give me rest and strength.

He loves us and is there for us in our times of weakness.

Colleen Smith is a team member of Captivate Church and serves as a missionary in her neighborhood.