Why is it that when we’re struggling with some problem, we believe that we’re alone?
I know that I’m not the only one going through a tough time, and I also know that God is on my side. So why do I hesitate before admitting that life is hard? I don’t really know.
Lately, I face one obstacle after another. I’ve been referring to them as setbacks because that’s what obstacles seem to be, at first. But I’ve been walking with God long enough to know better. Yet, it hasn’t been enough to lift my discouragement. I even told Him that I was giving up. I had enough, and had grown weary of trying so hard to make progress only to find myself back at the starting point. I felt like my prayers were going unanswered and I couldn’t take His silence anymore. I’d been worrying too much.
My bad mood had been building all day. I finally decided that I needed to cry it out for about ten minutes, and then I’d have to move on. I did. Then I went to bed and told myself that I wouldn’t worry about anything, and that my sole task was to just go to sleep. Then something strange happened. I woke up the next day with peace. I couldn’t believe it. How could I have peace when I didn’t have any answers or solutions? How could I have peace when my mind wasn’t interested in being at peace? Although I questioned it, I didn’t dwell on it. I just wanted the peace to last and I was concerned that it would disappear the next day. Except it didn’t.
I woke up with renewed peace each day this week. If a worried thought came into mind, I just refused to dwell on it, and you know what? The thought disappeared. Anyway, like I mentioned before, I knew it wasn’t true, but I felt like my prayers weren’t being answered and certainly not in a way that I wanted. But, the night that I cried out to God, I asked Him for something different: to not just deliver me from my problems, but to change me. To show me what He’s been trying to teach me all this time. I don’t know why I don’t pray that way more often. I don’t know why it takes me until I feel desperate to ask God for his input. Of course, God doesn’t always chose to explain himself to us or answer our “whys” but I think that he responds to us because we’re finally willing to listen to him. During many trials that I’ve endured, once I get to that place, God has been faithful to speak to my heart. Why do I doubt Him in the next trial?
No matter what God had to say, I was going to listen. I also wondered why I assumed that God would say or his response would be whatever my mind conjured up in fear. Anyway, after a much needed conversation with someone close to me, God spoke to both of us. As we talked, God revealed things to our hearts that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. It was so gentle and reassuring. Do either of us have all the answers? No, but I am very grateful for what God did reveal.
God often takes us through trials to develop characteristics in us that no other situation would do, and to teach us about himself. For example, He uses other people and hard situations to teach us about peace, maturity, trust, love, grace, etc. God has a few other attributes that I often forget about: wisdom and faithfulness. God will take us through difficulties to remind us that he is the standard of wisdom and that he is faithful.
As part of my weekly Bible study, I’ve been reading Systematic Theology by William Grudem. I read it in preparation, but the words still did not resonate with me until I read them out loud in our meeting: “It should be our great confidence and source of peace day by day to know that God causes all things to move us toward the ultimate goal he has for our lives, namely, that we might be like Christ and thereby bring glory to him.” How much time to we spend wondering or worrying about God’s will? Well, I find it funny that while He has other things in mind for us, we forget about his ultimate goal. I mean, obviously, I know that my life’s purpose is to become as Christ-like as possible by the end of it. I also know that it’s a relatively slow process, and I think that’s why I forget about it sometimes . . . and I also get distracted by circumstances. We go through circumstances because we are becoming like Christ. If He didn’t escape troubles, we can’t expect to escape them either.
“. . . there will frequently be times in this life when we will not be able to understand why God allowed something to happen. Then we have simply to trust him and go on obeying his wise commands for our lives . . . it pleases Him when we have faith to trust his wisdom even when we do not understand what he is doing.” How often do we cry: “but, I don’t understand,” or “this doesn’t make sense,” or “why can’t I figure this out?” Especially when we are commanded in Proverbs 3:5-6 to not lean on our own understanding? It’s in the Bible because God knew we would try to do the exact opposite. God has not given us the mental capacity or other ability to have our lives figured out all the time. Yet, whenever we’re in difficult situations, we stress ourselves out striving to do so.
God hasn’t been silent. He hasn’t been ignoring my prayers. He’s been trying to get my attention. I’m the one who wasn’t being still long enough to listen.
In conclusion, for now anyway, part of why I am going through these setbacks is because God is developing my character. He’s also all-knowing and can see things that I cannot. These obstacles may very well be preventing me from a disaster or they’re going to be opportunities for God to act on my behalf . . . He is going to work things out better than I ever could imagine anyway, so I have to stop fighting Him on it. I’ve been through many situations with God where I thought life should go in one particular direction and he hasn’t allowed it. By His grace, his provision comes in another way . . . and about 100% of the time, I am so relieved that things didn’t work out the way I thought they should or wanted them to. Yet, that isn’t always enough to stop me from doubting as soon as another situation arises. I am not an all-knowing God, so how dare I think that my ways or my wisdom are better? Time and time again, God has shown me that he truly does have what’s best for me in mind. God is faithful, I am not. The only requirement He has for me right now, (since I literally cannot figure it out the “why” or the solutions around or through the obstacles), is to just believe and trust him – which is less stressful, less exhausting, and I have peace. More on this in the next post.