Whenever we’re hit with challenges in life, we often expect our situation to improve and get better.
I know that I often carry this hope into my prayers to God. I expect Him to intervene and provide breakthroughs during the vulnerable moments of my life.
However, when prayers are delayed or seemingly unanswered, I am forced to grapple with uncertainty. Understandably, in such situations my friends who support me in my journey do not know what to say to comfort me. In the face of my own doubt, and the uncomfortable silence from others, I begin to doubt God’s goodness.
However, in spite of my growing disbelief, God shows up in unexpected ways, and He uses difficulties to teach me about His constant character in the midst of changing circumstances.
1. Remember that God is still in control
When I grapple with loss or anger, I am reminded of characters in the Bible who also went through crises. Ruth, Joseph and Paul, for example, were people who had lost much. Yet, their responses were vastly different from how I would expect someone to react in a crisis.
- Ruth was a childless widow, yet she chose to follow her mother-in-law to live in a foreign land, and to follow God (Ruth 1:16).
- Joseph decided to show hospitality to his brothers despite their earlier ill treatment of him, as he knew the Lord was doing good in the injustice he faced (Genesis 50:19-20).
- Paul continued his ministry despite facing persecution, knowing that his work would result in many others coming to Christ.
In each of these situations, God worked through the difficult situations to ultimately bring good: Ruth became great-grandmother to the first king of Israel; Joseph preserved the lives of the twelve tribes, and Paul spread the gospel throughout the known world.
Whenever calamity strikes, these examples from the Bible remind me that God is still in control, and He is still good. I need to be thankful for His work in my life, even if I can’t always see the outcome.
In times of difficulty, I often go to trusted friends and groups to confide in my struggle to remain thankful, and rely on them to remind me of God’s goodness.
2. Remember that we can trust God in the midst of uncertainty
I had planned to find a stable full-time job before I graduated from university, and had begun actively searching long before my peers did.
However, what I thought would be a one-month hunt became an eight-month affair. With every passing interview, I prayed that God would open the door to an opportunity, only to realize that every door was shut.
While it was immensely difficult, I saw God’s hand in the midst of my circumstances. I found a contract job quite quickly, which allowed me to earn some money and hone my professional skills while still looking for a full-time job.
In the process of seeking, praying and waiting, the job search taught me perseverance, humility and joy in the midst of fruitlessness, allowing me to grow in my relationship with God. Slowly, I began to trust the Giver, rather than long only for the Gift itself.
I need to be thankful for His work in my life, even if I can’t always see the outcome.
After a long search, God finally provided an open door — one that I wasn’t seeking or expecting, but one that was in line with what I was looking for. I’m about to begin my career journey there in December.
This experience has trained me to trust God to provide in the midst of uncertainty. It was no longer a job search that was based on my own terms, but rather, what God had in mind for me, and it was beyond what I had in mind for myself.
3. Remember that our worth is found in Christ alone
In university, I served God actively in fellowship and church.
However, throughout my journey, I was met with many roadblocks: I faced the untimely death of a friend and my grandma, lost treasured friendships, and my grades dipped even though I worked doubly hard to keep them up.
The fight to keep my hope and self-worth afloat seemed like an endless struggle, even as I saw my friends and peers sail through their university life without much difficulty, and easily obtained the academic success I yearned to have.
When the pillars of my security — grades and friendships — were taken away, I had to examine whether I was basing my worth on how much I have, or in how God Himself sees me.
Despite the odds, God provided a breakthrough in my grades in my final semester. On my graduation day, as I looked back on the journey, I knew that the ultimate milestone was not academic success, but rather, the lesson of where my worth should lie. Moreover, this has also propelled me to share with others my struggles in my walk with God, allowing for encouragement, accountability and prayer to take place.
All the experiences that I have listed were the challenges I faced in my life, which were bitter to taste when I was experiencing them. However, I am learning to see that the bitter experiences can be turned into opportunities to walk ever so closely with God, and to understand His purposes and goodness in spite of difficulties.
I challenge you today to look at the challenges you have in your life and to learn to see beyond the struggle—God can turn it all into something beautiful in His own time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
This article was first published on YMI.today and is republished with permission.