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Footprints in the Sand

Facing the tough times

by Brendan Farrelly (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Sec) - Church Schools


To consider that God is always with us, even in times of trial and hardship.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the poem ‘Footprints in the sand’ by Mary Stevenson, and the means to display it during the assembly. It is available at:

  • Have available the song ‘You’ll never walk alone’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein (or a different version), and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. It is available at: (check copyright)

  • Optional: you may wish to use images of some recent tragic world events.


  1. In the Bible, it states that God said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.’ But when we think about God or religion, we often ask, ‘If there is a God, why does he let bad things happen to good people? Why does he let so many tragedies happen: wars, tragedies concerning refugees, bombings, plane crashes, genocide, children being mistreated or dying young? Where is God? Why has he left us alone?

    Show the images if you wish to do so.

  2. There may be times when bad things have happened to you or your friends or relatives and you wonder why God let this happen. It could be that you failed an exam, fell out with a friend or had a bad accident. You may think, ‘Where was God then? Why did he leave me?’

  3. There may be times when you or your family have had to endure illness. Many of our lives may have been touched by cancer, through a friend or relative. It is often at times like these when people ask, ‘Where is God? Why is he letting this happen to me or my family?’

  4. The answer to this question lies in faith. This faith is well illustrated in a poem by Mary Stevenson, which I am sure some of you know. It is called ‘Footprints in the sand’.

    Display the words of the poem and read them slowly.

  5. There are times in our lives when we may feel that we are alone and God is not with us, but Christians believe that God never leaves us. They believe that God is always with us, even though we can’t always see him or feel his presence. When bad things happen in our lives, Christians believe that God is there: not to stop these things from happening, but to help us through them.

  6. Play the song ‘Bridge over troubled water’ by Simon & Garfunkel. Explain that, in times of difficulty, many people turn to God for help. However, alongside this, many people also turn to friends who can help them through difficult times.

Time for reflection

We will all come across troubled waters during our lives. But God will be with us and will make a bridge over these waters to help us get across and to help us through difficult times in our lives. When things get difficult in life, God does not desert us, he carries us through.
Consider the following questions.

- Are there people who need our help today?
- Are there people whom we could help to ‘carry through’ their difficult times?

Dear God,
Thank you that you love us.
Thank you that you promise to be with us in times of difficulty.
When I am alone, help me to remember that you are always there.
When I am afraid, help me to seek your peace.
Thank you that I never need to ‘walk alone’.


‘The King of love’ (Come and Praise, 54)
Optional exit music: ‘You’ll never walk alone’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein (or a different version)

Publication date: July 2016   (Vol.18 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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