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.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.
Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle of you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.
Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.
We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plants. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”
If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.
Does the name Lonnie Ballentine mean anything to you? If not, don’t worry. Most people don’t know him and odds are they won’t. He was the last person picked this year in the NFL draft and is given the title “Mr. Irrelevant”. They name the last person drafted Mr. Irrelevant because odds are that they won’t make the team they were drafted to. While they get the honor of being drafted, they may never step foot onto a professional football field. The last person picked is just a formality. It’s a pick that means nothing. There are hundreds more that didn’t get drafted that feel irrelevant too.
It reminds me of school yard basketball, dodgeball or anything team related. Two people pick teams. Little by little the crowd is whittled down until one remains. The one team captain says, “You can have them.” The other one sees them as a disadvantage too and says, “No. You take them.” Neither one wants to take the last one there and care very little for their feelings. It’s tough feeling irrelevant. It hurts when that label has been applied to you. Sooner or later, you start to believe it and start acting that way.
What you may not know is that through the years, there are a number of people that were drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant” that made the team. There were several that had great careers and even one who went with his team to the Super Bowl. These men chose not to let the label define them. They didn’t look at the odds, the circumstances or history and decide to fall in line. They chose to be relevant. They chose to work harder, do more and make the team. They didn’t let a label placed on them choose their destiny.
You may be reading this today with the mindset that you’re irrelevant. Maybe you weren’t picked for the job. Maybe no one remembered it was your birthday. Maybe no one appreciates all you do to make ends meet. The enemy wants to come in and tell you that your life is irrelevant. He wants nothing more than to kill, steal and destroy you. Don’t listen to the lies that say you are irrelevant. That your life is worthless. That no one wants you. That your life has no meaning. You mean more to God than you can ever comprehend. Your dark times are the very thing that will make you relevant.
There are so many people who are and will go through something similar to your circumstances. God needs someone who’s been there, walked in those shoes and dealt with the pain of feeling irrelevant in order to help them. He needs you to draw on your experiences to give hope to those who have none. Being picked last is a blessing. It means that God can use you to reach others who will be picked last. He makes beauty from ashes. He has to let your life be torn down sometimes in order to build it back up. He can take a life that seems irrelevant and make it relevant. It’s up to us to not give up during those times so He can make what you’re going through relevant.