There are times in our lives when various things happen that don’t appear to be our original assignment from the Lord. We’ve said, “Yes!” to Jesus and His call on our lives but the movie being played out in front of us does not look like the picture we had originally agreed to. So, we chalk it up to spiritual warfare or stubborn people acting in the flesh, etc. We usually become very frustrated and begin wondering what in the world is going on.
Paul was tested in this way many times. The ministerial journey he shares in 2nd Corinthians 11: 24-27 isn’t a pretty picture at all. He says,
“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, . . . . in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in cold and nakedness.”
More than likely, you and I haven’t been through the same struggles Paul encountered! Nevertheless, our journey feels just as real and challenging to us personally. To keep the right perspective, we must remember the Lord’s promises to us from His Word and our commitment to Him.
*GOD WILL DIRECT IF WE TRUST
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6
*GOD WILL STRENGTHEN IF WE WAIT
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
GOD WILL GIVE US REST IF WE COME
“Jesus said, ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Could it be that God is involved in the delay of our unanswered prayers? He seems so far away when the answer to a prayer is delayed or a definite, “No.”
He is sovereign for sure. Nothing with Him is wasted.
This lesson became so clear to me when I moved my parents to Dothan in 2008, following my mother’s second stroke. She began rehab at Extendicare. After several weeks, the fabulous physical therapists and her doctor determined that she would not be able to walk and would need total care. After Dr. Morriss talked with my dad, it was decided that she would transfer to the long term care section of Extendicare. We had all prayed that she would improve and be able to live at home with my dad. Why hadn’t God allowed her to be able to walk and be independent? We finally stopped asking “Why?” And began asking, “How?” How could God use this for His glory? My mother always taught me, “The best place to be is in the center of God’s will.” She also reminded me of the promise in
Romans 8:28, “All things work together for the good of those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
For the next 9 years, my mom encouraged, prayed for and ministered to employees and visitors coming in and out of her room. My dad was there everyday, singing songs and encouraging the staff. As a result, one employee came to know Christ and others grew in their walk with the Lord. Whereas God used Paul the last few years of his life in a prison to share Christ, He used my mom at Extendicare to further His kingdom’s work.
What difficulty are you walking through right now? Can God be honored and glorified even in the midst of your hardship? Stop asking “Why?” And start asking “How?” How can He use this for His glory? He will open your eyes and give you a new perspective, which will lead to a new attitude of gratitude!
Let’s “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2