(Peter’s Note: I found this blog post in my drafts folder, dated back from 2013. I don’t remember writing it, it’s been so long ago now, but for whatever reason, it’s there, and I should share it… hope it blesses someone!)
I’ve heard this theme a lot lately, and the Lord only knows how much I can identify with the question and the sentiment. I suppose that’s why I decided to write on it today.
How do you get through major life trials when you have no foundation, when your ability to see past the moment is gone? What happens when your understanding fails, when your world crashes around you, when the thing that you feared actually looms menacingly over the horizon?
The answers come so easily and tritely from well meaning friends, many who are often believers. The “let go and let God” sentiments might be based on a spiritual truth, but they rarely offer anything for the drowning person to grab a hold of.
We can go to scripture and talk about Job and how he dealt with his junk. We talk about David on the run from Saul, Joseph in prison, Elijah after Carmel. They’re good examples of the sentiment… but how often do the reminders of the stories really help the hurting? Sure, maybe they provide some degree of intellectual understanding that faith can work through, but I’d guess for most people that’s just not enough.
I know it’s not for me, at least. I make a living by being analytical. I’m paid to be able to think about things intelligently, factually, linearly, accurately. But when it comes to understanding hurt and disappointment, fears or failings, I don’t want someone to tell me “just trust God. He knows what He’s doing.” Yeah, no kidding. I know that, thanks for nothing.
At least, that’s often how I feel in the moment… even when I know that the person is well meaning and trying to help. But what happens when your then-high school sweetheart suddenly decides that they want a divorce? What about the parent who seemed so healthy and full of life who unexpectedly dies of an unknown health condition?
What happens when life crashes around you and every support is kicked out from under you? When God is silent and you lose the sense of His presence; when the irrational is suddenly your reality or when some unforeseen event attacks out of nowhere and you’re immediately lost, confused and fighting hopelessness and fear?
Those trite scriptures, idioms, well-meaning sentiments and bible stories just don’t help anymore. Does anything? Maybe not. Sometimes it just takes a while to sort through the ravaged emotions. Sometimes you just need to hurt and hope that people give you the necessary space when you need it.
And sometimes, maybe you need to be reminded of things beyond the natural that are happening. It might not always help, but truth is truth and will always eventually win in the end.
See, there’s just so much happening around us that we can’t see. We’re in a Matrix-like existence where the ‘reality’ that we know is really only a part of true reality, where there is a spiritual world that’s just as real as our physical one. And there are things happening there that we can’t always see with our eyes… things that we often come to understand after the event and sometimes things we’ll never understand this side of heaven.
What am I leading up to? Let me share with you what I feel that the Lord is teaching me, even right now at the point of writing this.
Stuff happens. How’s that for trite? But I’m being real, here. Stuff happens. We’re in a fallen, degenerate world. Yes, God is absolutely in control, but because He’s given us this thing called ‘free will’, He has intentionally limited His heavy-handedness so that we have the autonomy to make our own decisions, good or bad. Other people’s decisions can also affect us, good or bad.
But the big lesson I’m learning here, when you find yourself at the utter end of your rope, is that NOTHING is allowed to happen in your life or to you that isn’t allowed by God for some good purpose. This isn’t religious hyperbole, either.
Our faith is based on a few huge, immensely critical elements – God is absolutely good, He loves us completely, and uses everything for good in the life of the believer. We have a God of intentionality who knows what’s going to happen, good or bad, in our lives and chooses what to permit and what not to (good and bad), to build us up into the likeness of His Son, Jesus.
Most of us who consider ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ can quote this verse in Romans chapter 8 that says “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” but we need to come back to a few basic elements in it more intentionally.
“God works for the good” of us in the painful situations, in the fearful, hopeless situations, God works for our good.
“God works for the good” of us even when we experience unexplained loss, death, personal harm.
“God works for the good” of us through our failed relationships, failing finances, failed plans, failed attempts. Fails, losses, mistakes, bad decisions. All of it.
Because He is good, God can be trusted at His word. Because He is omniscient, God can be trusted for His foresight. Because He is omnipotent, we know He can make anything happen for our good, no matter how impossible it might look in the moment.
And this is what we need to cling to. Jesus loves you. I don’t know that we could ever ponder that singular statement enough. But He loves you. What He allows in your life WILL NOT DESTROY YOU. I don’t care what lies that the devil throws at you, I don’t care what feeling of hopelessness overwhelms you. It hurts. It’s ok to hurt. But it’s not over. It’s not final. It’s not going to destroy you. It will not keep you down. It will not keep you from God’s purpose for your life. YOU WILL NOT DIE IN THIS PLACE.
God uses it. The simple answer to the “why did God allow this” question is just that. Why? We can’t always understand the answer with our human logic. Jesus loves us unconditionally, works all things for our GOOD, protects us, guides us, restores us, forgives us, and shields us from the intended destruction of the enemy…
The only truth in these times of bleakness and despair, of fear and hopelessness, despondency and depression… or whatever you’re currently dealing with that threatens to overwhelm you, is that there is something else happening RIGHT NOW that you can’t see… some plot of Satan (who IS very real and who hates you) that God has already planned to turn around and use for your good, to build you and to strengthen you. To complete the gaps, to strengthen the weak areas, to shape you stronger, better and more powerful in Him than you would ever be otherwise.
This time that you’re struggling through? He intended it for you. It’s intentional. It’s intentional. It’s intentional.
And because HE is good, the motivation is for our good. That means that you WILL come through it. You WILL be better through it. You WILL be stronger through it. You WILL know His redemptive power through it. You WILL see the mighty hand of God save you NO MATTER HOW HARD life is right now. He who promised to use all things for your good, beloved, He is faithful, and He WILL complete it.
You who are scared and alone… you are so safe in Him. You who are hurting under heartbreak, bad decisions, painful reminders of a failed past… you are being protected and He is working for your deliverance and healing. You who are destitute financially, He is working a new thing for you… can’t you see it? Your blessing, your greater purpose, mission, calling, provision… it’s just there over the horizon. Walk in faith, not by sight. Jesus CANNOT fail you and He cannot lie. You’re never alone, never abandoned, never lost, never unforgiveable, and never ever ever beyond hope.
Let me speak a blessing over you today. In the authority of the name of Jesus, I declare that this trial will not break you. I speak life, and life to the full, over you and your loved ones. Be strengthened in the power of our great God, be healed, be restored, be re-established by the power of God working in and through you. You will sing a song of thankfulness and gratitude at God’s unmerited favor over your life, and you will emerge stronger, more faithful, more consistent in your life of faith, and more convinced of the power, grandeur, glory and magnificence of the greatest hero eternity will ever know, Jesus Christ.
Be well, thank Him now for His salvation being poured out over you, and look for others who are hurting. Use His power working through you to bless, strengthen, and encourage them and help them through that hard place with the same love, attentiveness and patience that our God so freely gives us.
Love to you in Christ Jesus,