Have you ever had one of those days where your running late and you run out to hop in your car only to discover that your windows are completely frosted up with ice. 12 million precious minutes later, you open the door to get into the car and your jacket gets caught and it yanks you back before you can slide into the seat. Then, naturally, you hit every light on your journey into work, even lights that you were literally never aware of, like they just popped out of the ground for the sole purpose of making you insane. But really, would it even matter if all the lights weren’t red? Because you’re stuck behind someone who is very much not concerned about going the speed limit today. And you feel your blood boil?
Maybe for you, instead of a series of annoying, seemingly coordinated, attacks on your inner peace there is something much more upsetting, infuriating, distressing or depressing going on in your life today. Maybe your life-long desire to meet the man of your dreams, get married, and live happily-ever-after seems to grow dimmer and dimmer with each passing year of singleness. Or when you go to pee on that little stick, again and again, month after month, only one line shows up, never two. Or he won’t stop drinking. Or she won’t come home. Maybe it’s something like that, that threatens to drag your heart away from hope and your thoughts from peace today.
I’ve been there.
There, in the places where things seem hopeless.
There, in the places where it looks like things will never change.
There, in the places where you don’t understand, and its hard to believe that a good God would allow day-after-day discouragement, broken hearts, and fading dreams to go on, and for so long.
But I’ve also been on the other side of the valley.
I’ve also seen the sun rise again.
I’ve also seen how God’s goodness and faithfulness to me and to His promises proves true, time and time again.
What I wish I did a better job of holding on to when the hard times come and what I want to urge you to cling to today, is that God is trustworthy. If I could give you the secret weapon to get through your situation, it is to rest your heart in that truth: you can trust Him.
God is not a robot or genie, compelled to do everything that we want Him to and when we give the order. His hands are not bound by our plans or timetables. Many times we can look back and be readily grateful that He closed the door on opportunities or relationships that we were trying to force open. In retrospect, we are able to see the grace and the love expressed in what we were spared from. But other times, even though there is nothing wrong with the desire of our heart for something (like a spouse, a baby, for our loved ones to beat an addiction, etc), we still don’t get the resolution we want from God, or we do but it doesn’t happen when or how we thought it would.
I can’t explain every “no” from God, I don’t have the answer to every “not yet”. But in the midst of not being able to see the full picture and understand every part of every story, there is security and rest found in standing on what I do know to be true.
I know that He is 100% trustworthy. I know He is always with me (Matthew 28:20), that He will go ahead of me on my journey and protects me from behind (Isaiah 52:12). I know he holds me up and strengthens me (Isaiah 41:10) and absolutely will never stop loving me (Jeremiah 31:3). And I know, and can testify to His faithfulness in this, that He promises to work everything that happens in our lives together for our good and to His glory (Romans 8:28). In the midst of the lack of clarity, the confusion, the limited understanding of “why”, I can rest my heart and mind in knowing that these things don’t change. Whether my circumstances rise or fall, these truths are solid as a rock.
That doesn’t mean that the journey is easy or that our hurting hearts are somehow not aching for the deep desires of our heart. And sometimes we go through things that are so bad, so difficult, so heartbreaking that it just doesn’t seem possible that they could actually be turned around for our good. Think of Joseph from the Bible, the favorite son of his father (Israel). Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit and then sold him into slavery because they were jealous of him. He went from difficult situation to difficult situation in his life for many years after he was betrayed by his family (unjust treatment, lies that got his kicked out of his home/ work and thrown in jail, and more). But Joseph trusted God, that He was good and was faithfully by his side. And in the end, the light of God’s faithfulness to redeem even the most broken of things, burned brightly in Joseph’s life. God used the hard-knocks of his life, from the first betrayal to the last, to position him in places and among people that would ultimately land him in the palace. Every thread of his life was tied together each step of the way, enabling Joseph to save the people of Egypt, and even the family that had once thrown him away, from great famine. All because God was able and faithful to heal Joseph and use his difficult circumstances to get him to the right place at the right time.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
It wasn’t easy. Truly, the things that happened in Joseph’s life were bad things to happen to someone. But God never left His side, and God worked the hard things of his life to ultimately bless Joseph, bless others around him, and bring greater praise to Himself.
I don’t know how this chapter of the story of your life ends. I’m not sure exactly how God is weaving the threads of your life tapestry together to sing the song of His great love and faithfulness over you. But He is. If things look bleak, rest in the truth that He’s not finished yet. Because of who He is, you can go through the difficult seasons, phases, and turns of life, with a confident hope. A hope that nothing is wasted, and He can and will use even our heartbreaks and hardbreaks to bring goodness to us and glory to Him. This is a hope that can set your heart free, even in the midst of the stuck-places of life. This is a hope that can bring joy and peace that overflows, despite the circumstances we face.
Hear the whisper in the darkness: Trust Him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15: 13 (NIV)
But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. – Psalm 3:3 (NASB)