When we have utmost confidence that we were pursuing the will of God in entering a situation, and that situation ends in disappointment, heartbreak, devastation, or all of the above, it’s natural to question why. Why God? I heard You so clearly yet here I am.
Maybe the call to move to a completely different city or state came with so much confidence and expectation, but now all you feel is lonely and confused.
Maybe there was assurance that beginning a relationship or entering a marriage was God’s desire for you, but now a breakup or divorce has taken place and your hurt has you doubting all that you were so sure of.
Maybe you were boldly called to adopt a child only to have it all fall through at the last moment, and now you’re questioning whether God even wanted you to adopt in the first place.
When we think about and imagine God’s will for us, we nearly never daydream about a story ending in turbulence and pain.
We’ve falsely created an illusion of God’s will: a will of safety, comfort, and endless confirmation that we are exactly where we’re supposed to be. We say, “I just want to be at the center of God’s will,” but do we truly understand the implications of this statement?
I, personally, consistently find myself defaulting to the mindset that the center of God’s will is the easier place to be. Scripture has made clear to me that my ways will only lead to destruction so, contrary to what I know to be true through the Word, I subconsciously conclude that God’s will is opposite and will have an opposite effect. I neglect the promise that, in this life, I will have troubles. I neglect the promise that these troubles are often at the very eye of the hurricane that is God’s mighty purpose.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5)
God is Love above all else. But just as a parent’s love for a child results in properly executed discipline and teaching, so does that of our Heavenly Father. As James points out through the usage of “whenever,” our trials are guaranteed. But, in accordance with the way of our Gracious Father, this guarantee is presented in the context of great hope. Though sometimes nearly impossible to see, our trials are a gracious gift–a gift that leads to stronger faith and wisdom when we respond as the Lord desires. So, how does He desire we respond in our brokenness?
With genuine cries. With our broken pieces scattered over the floor, desperate for the provision of the only One holding the power to restore our pieces to wholeness. With worship of the God we know Him to be, whether we believe it in the depths of the moment or not.
How we react in times of pain and hurt are the truest reflection of our character and the depths of our faith. It’s far less difficult to treat those around you well when circumstances in your life seem to be working in your favor, but when they all seemingly turn against you, how will you behave? How will you carry yourself? When someone directly causes you hurt, your response in your actions to them is especially revealing. In the failed relationship or broken marriage, will you treat the other with grace and respect or will you let the malice from hurt overpower the Spirit living in your heart? In the adoption that falls through, will you react with love and respect towards the birthparents or whomever parties are involved, or will you react with spite and resentment?
In your times of pain and hurt will you revere the Lord in your heart or will you reject Him in anger? Will you run to the feet of the cross that gave you life, or will you turn your back in disbelief of His goodness?
We must renew our minds in the truth that our trials are gifts–that our Father whose greatest gift of all was to have His only Son be brutally sacrificed is a Father whose perspective of suffering is far grander and more glorious than we can comprehend. If brutality and the greatest injustice since the beginning of the world is also considered the pinnacle demonstration of Grace–the most beautiful and perfect gift–who are we to say our comparably minuscule sufferings aren’t the Lord’s provision of love and blessing in our lives? When the lie that our sorrows are a punishment or a result of neglect from God speaks louder than the truth that our sorrows are a call to pure intimacy with our merciful Father, we must pray against the enemy’s twisted power. We must react with worship of a God who is infinitely stronger than the manipulation of Satan. We must renew our hearts, renew our minds with Truth.
We have to know and believe that our trials are not for waste. With every new struggle and pain that we overcome alongside our loving Father, we are strengthened in perseverance. We are strengthened emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When, amidst our brokenness and weakness, we ask the Lord for provision of His wisdom, the wisdom we are gifted does not vanish after each tribulation has been overcome. Rather, we remain stronger, wiser, and even more properly equipped for God’s ministry than we were before. With ministry being the ultimate purpose for each of our stories, we can rest in confidence and peace that every trial and tribulation is vital to the fulfillment of our purpose. Each trouble should not be seen as a bump in the road along the way to the finish line, but rather as an essential maintenance check that removes both seemingly good and bad elements of our lives to enable growth and a stronger drive to the finish line.
The center of God’s will has guaranteed trials. It has guaranteed pain, suffering, and times when the depths of faith are sincerely revealed. It is in absolutely no way the easier place to be. But it is a place of pure joy, a place of peace surpassing all understanding, and a place with the arms of the Father wrapped tightly around you as you cry out to Him, as you’re renewed, and as you’re closer to His heart than ever before.