I have adored this poem as long as I can remember, yet I never really thought all that much about what it was saying:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
People often site the fact that God allows bad things to happen as a reason that God cannot exist. This is a ridiculous idea, and an arrogant one as well. Why should anyone believe that their life should be easy and free of any strife?
Frankly, a god who takes away all the pain and strife of this life would be doing you a disservice. It is the pain and the strife that teaches us the most lessons, brings to us the full range of experience that this realm can provide. To miss out on that would be to waste your life here, and god understands that far better than you can. Outside of the physical world beings can look in, and they can see the threads and waves that travel from one action or event to the next, they can see cause and causality, karma and change. They see interactions between events of our lives that seem random to us, they can see the full and colorful tapestry that our lives become because of all the interconnections and variations of the moments of our lives.
In this poem, god is described as a truely compassionate AND all knowing being - he neither abandons us during strife nor does he make the strife go away - he does the only thing that makes sense. He comforts, guides, and carries us through the pain, allowing us to have the negative experience that we need but keeping us safe from harm and total collapse, nonetheless.
Asking god to take away the pain in your life is asking god to abandon any hope of your growing into something more than what you currently are. Ask instead for serenity, strength and wisdom to help get you through the difficult times.
*Incidentally, while looking up the poem to reference for this post I discovered that there is a controversy over who actually wrote the Footprints poem in the first place! I saw three different versions by three different authors... you learn something new every day!