Sometimes God’s sovereignty doesn’t feel very comforting at all.
When there’s something painful going on in your life that actually has a possible resolution (such as physical or relational healing, or deliverance from financial distress, or the reconciliation of a rebellious loved one, etc.) it’s hard to accept that God could change the circumstance---instantly, effortlessly (see Proverbs 21:1)---but that He doesn’t.
Sometimes I wish He gave me different trials, and in my mind I can think of all the ways I would suffer well through those and even glorify Him,…but no, not this, not what He has given me. I feel like I would trade this for anything. Can you relate?
In those moments I must remember that God is weaving a story- - -He’s writing my story which exists inside of a far, far greater story that He’s been writing for all time. His story is a really good story, a true story, a story of redemption on a global, even universal scale…and my personal little sub-sub-sub-plot inside this grand narrative is still planned and orchestrated masterfully. If I can see my life as a story, maybe I can get into my thick skull the truth that ugly parts are necessary to make the beautiful parts so beautiful. Brokenness is an inescapable element of redemption. Instead of being consumed by the painful struggles in my life, I need to see them as “pre-redemption”, or beauty in the making.
Though our minds know better, our hurting hearts tend to think that God is up to one of two things: He either hates us or He’s going to give us a perfect little happy ending soon. However, I’ve spent enough time with older women who are still in the thick of decades of emotional pain to see that God is up to something better than those two options. For example, OT prophet Habakkauk cried out to God in His distress, God told him His plan, Habakkuk didn’t like it, but when God reminded Habakkuk that “the Lord is in His holy temple”, everything changed for him even though his situation didn’t. He was able to rejoice in the Lord even though the metaphorical fig tree still wasn’t blossoming. And we can too.
I don't think God wants us to look for a silver lining; He wants us to look for His face (Psalm 27:8.) We don’t need to know the reason things are happening; we can just trust His heart. The Lord is the Great Physician, and our inner-pharmacists might look at His prescriptions and say “Uh, I’m not sure that’s right,” but He knows the perfect cure for us, and His sovereign plan is our medicine whether we want it or not.
As we read the gospels and see Christ’s answers to Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the Pharisees, the disciples, etc. we can kind of feel the frustration of the person who asked Him a question, because oftentimes it doesn’t seem like Jesus answered their questions at all. He definitely didn’t give them the responses they were looking for, and sometimes- - -like with the rich young ruler (Mark 10:22), the inquirer walked away saddened. But Jesus gave the perfect answer every time; in His infinite wisdom and divine perception, each and every time he was speaking straight to the person’s heart. We can trust that the answers Jesus gives to our requests---though not always or even usually exactly what we were looking for---are exactly what I need.
Does this mean prayer does nothing? Not at all. Prayer is the most productive thing we could possibly do. The Bible couldn’t be more clear that we do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2.) However, we might ask and not receive because we ask wrongly (James 4:3.) We do not know what to pray for as we ought (Romans 8:26) but the Spirit intercedes for us in our weakness, so our prayers are working; God just might have redemption in mind more than the removal of your circumstances.
Be comforted today that God’s writing a story for you that is so much better than you could ever write for yourself.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today