Think about what has been getting you upset lately. May be it is financial, relational or some other personal challenge that has prevailed in spite of your prayer. Whatever it may be, a good place to find perspective is always at the cross.
Consider what Jesus did when it was not going well for him. On the day that he was betrayed, whipped, spat on and hung on a cross. For the betrayal he forgave, the whipping he endured, the humiliation he submitted and the crucifixion gave up his life. I do not believe that most of us are going through anything as critical.
The prevailing theme in all Jesus’ responses was his trust in God’s process. Even when he experienced the unexpected, he still trusted. As the Father turned away from him (or the sin he became) Jesus cried out, “My God why have you forsaken me?” (Mathew 27:26). He expressed his anguish but later on confirmed his faith by saying “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
What about you and me? When we look at the path through which God is leading us and see the ‘nails’ that are piercing our soul, do we sometimes wish it could be different? That life should be more comfortable, that the most difficult experiences are done away with. If we think like this then we are suggesting that God does not know what he is doing.
When we struggle it is without doubt tough to understand God’s intentions. But isn’t that the problem: our minds with finite knowledge trying to understand an infinitely wise God? Think about it, if God’s wisdom was inexhaustible (and it is) would he always do what we expect? If he knew all things (and he does) would his actions reflect our ideals? The simple answer is no.
Everything that happens to a child of God (both the good and the bad) aids their divine purpose. But it’s the uncomfortable, the challenging and the painful that yield the best results as far as our spiritual growth is concerned. Not that God takes any pleasure in our pain, just that as human beings we simply do not grow in comfort.
Let’s be honest, how many of us would still pursue God if we lived our ideal life. If we had all the material wealth we desired with smooth running relationships, good health and everything went as we hoped. How many of us would keep God at the center of our lives? You do not have to be the smartest person to know that the most committed believers tend to be those who have had some challenges.
I am convinced that if we could fulfill our divine purpose without trials then God would never let a single one of us hurt—not even for a moment. Adversity was never in his original plan and the only reason he exposes us to any is so that we (and others) can know his strength.
That said, do you wonder what would happen if God allowed only a little adversity in the life of a believer? Let us look at some personalities in the Bible and ‘remove’ challenges from their lives. How important would Abraham be if he had Isaac early in his life? What would most of the Psalms read like if David’s life had been easy? Ruth would not be so much of an inspiration if she had never known hardship. How much consolation would the book of Job give if he never suffered? What about Paul, how much encouragement would his Epistles offer if he did not experience anything that you and I go through? And where would we be without the cross that Jesus endured?
Adversity is certainly not a good thing but good things can come from it.
So just remember, although God is not behind whatever is upsetting you, he is working it out for your good. What seems so hard will benefit you if you trust him. He says, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not evil” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Note: If you would like to get some more detail about how God works through adversity (and you like to read books) you can have a look at Brighter Days. Read an excerpt when you follow the link.