Once upon a time, a situation went sideways on me. I thought things were going well and the bottom of the rug more or less came out from under me. It wasn’t what I would call a fun time.
It felt a little like I’d been sucker punched.
Upon returning to my home, I sat down in my trusty chair that I use for quiet times and personal reflection. I am currently sitting in the same chair. After experiencing a few minutes of deep frustration, I did something that changed my life forever.
I recounted all the times that God had delivered me from all the situations that I knew for certain would give me life and that I later recognized as bad ideas. There’s more than a few times that I knew for sure that I needed something in my life and God nudged or pushed that thing out of my life. This exercise brought about an incredible moment of clarity and now I find it to be one of the best parts of my walk with Christ.
In that moment, it dawned on me that God really does understand my story better than I do. While that didn’t make the frustrating situation enjoyable, it made acknowledge the fact that God’s understanding is truly better than mine. This acknowledgement alone made me trust in God’s love for me more.
The really interesting thing is that none of the things that I recounted were even sins or addictions. While God has definitely delivered me from my fair share of those, this time around I just looked at changes that specifically led to a life with more peace and joy. This is really important to me because I tend to see God more as a super strict teacher and less as a friend whose trying to help me.(John 15:15)
It’s really important to note that a life with more joy and peace DOES NOT mean you will have better circumstances. Those two things don’t have a very strong correlation. I’ve found that as my circumstances improve it becomes easier for me to forget about God in my day to day life and consequently miss out on His supernatural joy and peace. (Proverbs 30:9)
Back to my point, even though I’ve read multiple books in the past about how God wants to give me supernatural peace, joy, and life it’s still difficult for me to accept. How He leads me to those things doesn’t always involve a path that I understand. Many times I have to stand on a hilltop and look back over a battlefield in order to start seeing how God has watched over me and worked things for my good.(Romans 8:28)
The times when we feel really confused and frustrated are the times that we need the reminders of those hilltop moments the most. It’s when we get lost in the fog of life that we really need any light that we can find and reminding yourself that God is FOR YOU will definitely serve as a light in the darkness. You will be surprised to find how much of the fog lifts when you remind yourself that God is for you.
Many times a majority of the confusion and frustration we face comes from wondering whether God is for us. One of the best ways to fight this doubt comes from reminding ourselves of all the victories in our lives where God’s power was essential.
If you can’t think of many, start with your salvation. God picked you out of the storm of sin and set you on the rock of glory. You currently have the righteousness of God and membership in the family of God because of what He did for you.
(If you haven’t accepted God’s offer of salvation but want to be picked up out of the storm, that offer is already on the table. If you want to know more, follow this link.)
After you’ve counted that, look to all the struggles or addictions that God has delivered you out of. Then look at all the struggles and addictions that you’ve never dealt with and acknowledge that God protected you from all those. Finally, take a look at all the changes in direction that you didn’t like at the time but have grown to appreciate.
I would make a pretty large bet that you’ve got at least a few things in that last category. They don’t have to be major life changes, you just have to look back and see where God has nudged you a little on the path. Even if it was just a piece of advice from a friend or counselor, just recount all the times where your path changed a little from your intended trajectory and you eventually appreciated the change in direction.
All that being said, I do understand that we can’t always look back and see how God has worked things for our good. I’ve gone through some pretty big losses and heartbreaks in my life. I know what it feels like when a painful crisis overshadows all the other blessings in your life.
I write this article to help you see how a loving God has directed your steps in your life. At times, it feels like any other explanation would make more sense because the pain is just so overwhelming. What you must remember is that the same God who loves you no matter what you do is the one who wrote your story.
That same God is with you always.
In your darkest moments, the best thing to do is trust His love for you and it will help to look back at His many expressions of that love. He doesn’t expect that love or the expressions of that love to immediately cheer you up and bring you from the depths. God makes it clear in Proverbs that He understands the pain of loss and heartbreak. (Prov. 13:12, Prov 25:20)
If you acknowledge the fact that He walks next you and look up at the light of His grace, then you can start the journey of the darkness.
No matter whether I face a daily problem or a major life crisis, I don’t always want to look back over the battlefield or up at God’s grace. Many times I just want to sit and build some mud pies. The most incredible thing is that God waits patiently for me AND continues to pursue my heart in all circumstances.
If I have learned nothing else from losing my parents and becoming a man, I have learned that God is always constant. I can see His constant guidance as I look back over my life and His constant invitation as He continues to call me further up the mountain. He walks next to us on the path, fights with us in the battles, and He will never leave us.
The original situation that frustrated me didn’t end like I wanted it too. I still ended up flat on my back. I learned to lean on God’s constant love a little more and to remind myself of how He has guided me in the past and that made it all worth it.
Image Copyright: Matthias Kabelby