It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.
In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.
Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.
Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash
What do you think is a more powerful motivator, pain or pleasure? If you think pleasure, let me ask you why you’re going to work today instead of going on vacation? It’s because the threat of the pain of losing your house, car, and belongings. The thought of that pain will motivate you to go to work instead of going to the beach. Pain has been proven to be a powerful motivator in humans, and it often causes us to do things differently.
At one point in my life, I wasn’t living how I knew God wanted me to. I did things that He considers evil, and I lived my way on my terms. I received several messages from God through scripture and from others, but I ignored them. I knew the things I was doing were wrong, but lacked the will power to stop. I kept pressing forward against God disregarding the consequences of my actions.
Then, one day, everything in my life started to crash down and implode. God started removing the things in my life to get my attention. If you don’t know, I’m a pretty stubborn person. I was a lot like Jonah. I kept going in the wrong direction despite the raging storm. I waited until all was lost before I decided to toss my selfishness overboard, admit I was wrong, and ask for forgiveness. It’s was very humbling, but effective in getting me to turn my life around.
Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (GNT). For me, that’s what it took. God broke me by sending me through so much pain I wanted to end it all. In the end though, I changed paths and now listen when He speaks. I don’t wait for the painful experiences to change the parts of my life He wants changed. Each of us have a choice when God speaks. We can change or we can keep on doing what we are doing. Like a good parent though, He will use whatever is necessary to get us to change our ways depending on how much motivation we need.
When we go through hard times, we all want to know why. What did we do to deserve it? Why does it have to last so long? Did God abandon us? Has He forgotten us? How much more can we endure before we break? These are all questions we think about when we go through the fire of trials. It’s been my experience that it’s not until well after that I begin to get any insight into it, if at all. So why does God allow us to face unbearable conditions?
In a word, it’s transformational. There can be no transformation in our lives without hard times. They mold us, purify us, and move us from one place to another. As my nephew says, “No pressure, no diamond.” The problem is, we want the diamond without the pressure. We want the transformation without the trial. We want strength without having to endure heavy lifting. We want things now instead of later, but that’s not how God works, nor is it how we were designed.
In Psalm 66:10-12 it says, “You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver. You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs. Then you put a leader over us. We went through fire and flood, but you brought us to a place of great abundance” (NLT). It was God who tested them, put a heavy burden on them, and sent them through the fire and flood. He does the same to us today. It’s not fun, it hurts, and it’s hard to get through at times, but God has a plan.
As the psalmist wrote, He’s purifying us in order to bring us to a place of abundance. You can’t get to the abundance without going through the purification of fire. When those times come remember that if you will endure it, God is working it out for your good. He’s bringing you to a place that you could never get to without having gone through it. Also remember his promise in Isaiah 42:3, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” He’s there with you in these times and won’t let them crush you. Hang in there, abundance is coming.