Are you living through a period of life when you don't understand what God is doing, and you can't seem to improve your situation, location, or relationships?
Maybe you don't feel utterly helpless, but you feel something like this:
- Wanting to honor the Lord and do what he says is right, despite others doing what is wrong and thriving.
- Frustrated that life isn't going your way, and that what you desire is often a dream and rarely a reality.
- Confused at why God has chosen for your story to take the course it has, and anxious about what is coming next.
- Struggling with the feeling that others who appear less deserving are receiving more blessing than you.
I don't know about you, but much of my daily comfort comes from the fact that I am able to make sense of my circumstances and determine the details of my life. Conversely, take away my ability to understand and my perceived control, and you will see anxiety, fear, frustration, and doubt set in.
It is a painful exercise in spiritual maturity, but there are inescapable, necessary, and helpful reasons why we feel confused and powerless:
1. Because We Live In A Broken World With Fallen People
Genesis 3:17-19 defines what happened when sin entered the world. "Cursed is the ground … in pain … all the days of your life … thorns and thistles … by the sweat of your face." In a world that is broken - and with people who are selfish, competitive, and impatient (including me and you) - everything we do is harder and more complicated.
2. Because God Is Sovereign And The Narrative Is Not About Us
We are not the authors of life. Our individual stories are woven into the grand origin-to-destiny narrative that God alone has written. While circumstances may seem out of our control, they have never been outside of the infinitely attentive control of your Father. At the same time, you and I must remember that the narrative of the universe exists solely for the eternal glory of the Creator, not for our momentary pleasure and comfort.
3. Because God Is Ministering To Us And Others
God is the ultimate definition of what is wise, loving, and good, using these moments to rescue us from our bondage to the kingdom of self and to draw us into a greater allegiance to his Kingdom. Simultaneously, God calls us to be part of what he is doing in the lives of others. Moments of hardship and confusion equip us to minster to others in their times of struggle (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Let's be honest with ourselves and with God: What have these moments revealed about our functional, street-level faith? Maybe what we thought was a robust faith in God's presence, promises, power, wisdom, and love was actually our seeming power to control our circumstances through intelligence, determination, prosperity, or something else.
In love, God will take you where you do not want to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. It is uncomfortable grace, but it is still divine, tender grace.
The question is, are you allowing moments of hardship and confusion to produce in you a faith that is stronger, or weaker? Have your responses to hardship and confusion drawn you closer to God, or further away?
In each case, it's your choice. So take hold of the new morning mercies that God makes available! How you respond is contingent on whether you choose God or self.
Paul David Tripp
- How did you experience a broken world and fallen people this past week? In what ways did this leave you feeling frustrated, confused, angry, or powerless?
- Were there ways in which you contributed to the brokenness of the world this week? Take a moment to observe and confess the empirical evidence of your fallen nature.
- Why is it better for God to be the sovereign author of your life story? Think of specific reasons, and remind yourself that you are in wise, loving, and powerful hands.
- How can you minister to someone who currently feels confused and powerless this week?