A calling had been weighing on her mind but uncertainty and insecurity were clouding her judgement. The temptation to ignore His call was strong. The questions of doubt and hesitation far out-weighed the answers of confidence and trust. Ill-equipped to carry out His plans, and lacking the trust to believe He is able, she ran back—deep into her comfort-zone where a lack of faith coexisted with guilt.
Pounding down the court, eyes on the hoop. Noise of fans and encouragement of teammates surrounding him, sweat dripping. An opponent in view as he dribbles behind his back. Intense pain follows the blow clumsily delivered to his foot by his opponent. Senior year, one play. High school career over. 2 broken bones, 10 weeks of recovery. Crutches and a boot to replace the high hopes and big plans of a driven and diligent student.
Late nights, but early mornings weighed in on his shoulders as the never-ending load of work coincided with conflict and tension. Exhaustion inflicting stress and stress threatening to take over. Patience ever in high demand. The conviction to love and let Christ often battled by the temptation to give up. Troubled thoughts weighing heavy through the fight for a renewed focus.
As they arrived at the ER, nurses and techs flew to their side as they tried to diagnose what was going on. “He’s a heart baby!” Someone shouted through the chaos. He was rushed off to another floor and his parents stood empty handed, still and shocked as they silently begged God to spare the life of their youngest child. Utter helplessness. Complete uncertainty. Overwhelming emotions. How was the day going to end?
“When hardships come your way, will you tell yourself it’s a tool of God’s grace and a sign of his love, or will you give in to doubting his goodness? …The difficulties that you face are not in the way of God’s plan, they do not show the failure of God’s plan, and they are not signs he has turned his back on you. No, those tough moments are a sure sign of the zeal of his redemptive love.” Paul David Tripp
The natural response is to worry or to feel uneasy when we are faced with unavoidable battles. We cringe when God calls us to something that is outside of our “perfect plan”. We retreat from the face of hardships and cower at the sight of trials. We wonder why God is doing this to us. We wonder how we’re going to cope. When we are faced with trials that we can’t fix or control, we fret because we are not able. We are anxious because we are using only our own might, and not depending on the strength of Christ. We, once again, attempt to live on our own capabilities and once again, we’re going to find that we fall short. Instead of taking shelter in Him, we try to brave it on our own, and find that we are no match for the storm. The temptation is to become frustrated at the trials. Frustrated with God for taking us through yet another valley. And frustrated with ourselves because we aren’t as strong as we think we are.
But our fear, our confusion, our struggle to understand or make sense of a situation never comes from a right understanding of God, but always from a tainted view of self. When we try to fight on our own, we forget that without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) We feel confused when hardships arise because we struggle to understand His perfect plan. We have to always remember that His perfect plan is for our good (Romans 8:28-30), and when we cling to this truth, our confusion will be replaced with trust in His faithfulness and an understanding of His great love will bring us peace.
We need the continual reminder that as long as Christ loves you, He is going to be working to bring you closer to Him. And as long as He is working to bring you closer to Him, He is going to take you through the rough times to show you just how much you need Him. And once you understand just how much you need Him, the rough times are going to be a little bit sweeter because the realization of His love for us is stronger than any valley we tread.
The truth is this: every hardship you face, every trial He takes you through, every test of your faith is for one purpose, and that purpose is to make you more like His Son. If we can remember this during the tough times, if we can look up to Him instead of looking down at our own understanding, we will see that His plan is for our ultimate good because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. His unending love for you compels Him to take you through the hardships because through the hardships your dependence and trust in Christ grows as you understand more and more just how weak you are, and just how strong He is. Your suffering should not create feelings of discontentment, confusion, or frustration, but should instead evoke in you a rejoicing spirit because the hardships in your life are a sign of His love for you because His love is working to make you more and more like His Son.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5