What’s a Christian to do when life doesn’t go as planned? When hopes are dashed, dreams die, and desperate cries to heaven seem to dissipate in the atmosphere? When all those scriptures on abundance, blessing and protection seem to be intended for other people?
In your mind you know that God must have a good reason for allowing you to suffer, but in your heart you’re wounded and confused.
Here are seven things to think about when your stupid, lousy, miserable life doesn’t make any sense.
1) Ask “What If…?”
If you could zoom out and hover over your situation and see it from God’s omniscient perspective, what might you observe that would make you say, “Ah ha! So THAT’S why it has to happen this way!”
“What if God is testing me?” What a great disappointment it would be to get to Heaven and learn that you had forfeited a tremendous blessing because you failed during a time of trial.
“What if God is growing me?” Suffering is almost always a prerequisite to spiritual growth. What if God is using this experience to strengthen and equip you for something greater?
“What if God is protecting me?” Some perceived losses aren’t really losses at all. What if this misfortune is God’s way of saving you from making a really big mistake?
“What if God is actually blessing me?” What if God blocked your current path because He has a wonderful gift in store for you on another?
“What if God is using me?” What if He has allowed you to enter a very dark place because someone there desperately needs His light?
Asking the “what if” questions can help to remind you that somewhere in the heavenly realms this all really does make sense. God is not standing by idly while you suffer, and He’s not at a loss to figure out how to help. Somewhere in all of this there is a plan and purpose that you can’t see. Asking the “what ifs?” can strengthen your faith and help you remember that God is still in control, and is actively working things out behind the scenes.
2) It’s really not about your stupid, lousy, miserable life anyway.
As part of the collective body of Christ, you’re tasked with furthering God’s redemptive plan for a dark and fallen planet. This kind of mission doesn’t come without casualties. He told us in advance that we would face many trials and tribulations along the way, so we shouldn’t be surprised by them. One day the battle will be over, the mission accomplished, and we’ll celebrate the victory for all of eternity. But for right now, it’s not about us. It’s just not.
3) You don’t have to do it much longer.
It might seem abnormal to take solace in the fact that soon enough your life will be over and you won’t have to do this anymore. And when everything is going swimmingly in life, perhaps that kind of thinking does seem macabre and inappropriate. But in times of sheer misery and desperation, finding comfort in the idea that this experience is only temporary makes perfect sense.
In either case, whether present conditions are ideal or unbearable, if we truly understood how magnificently wonderful heaven is going to be in comparison, and what inconceivable delight awaits us for all eternity, the real abnormal thought would be to want to stay here.
4) Recall the things God has done for you in the past.
If you’ve walked with Him for any length of time, He’s already done many great things for you. He insists that you remember those deeds; not for His benefit, but for your own. It’s important to remember the many the times He’s come to your aid in the past so that your faith doesn’t falter the next time you’re in trouble.
So, document your blessings. Reflect on them. Impress them upon your children. Never forget. He’s always been faithful, and He is worthy of your trust.
5) What if He never does anything for you ever again?
What if he never answers another prayer, dispenses another blessing, solves another problem, gives another word of comfort, or heals another wound?
What if after going to the cross for you and allowing Himself to be tortured and murdered in your place, He never does anything for you ever again? Wouldn’t that be enough? Wouldn’t that be scandalously, copiously, incomprehensibly enough?
He doesn’t owe us anything. He’s not obligated to solve our problems, yet he still intervenes in the tiny details of our lives continuously. He is always there guiding, leading, protecting, and blessing us along the way. That truly is amazing grace.
6) He’s good. And He loves you.
Some of life’s tribulations are so senseless and agonizing that they rattle the very core of what you thought you understood about your relationship with God. In those moments, when there is so much you can’t comprehend, you have to lean on the only things you do know: That He is good, and He loves you. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Even when terrible things happen, God is still good, and He never stops loving us.
7) Joy comes in the morning.
He knows your stupid, lousy, miserable life doesn’t make any sense right now. He came that you might have life more abundantly.
He hasn’t forgotten you. A mother could no sooner forget her nursing child.
He knows you are shattered. He’ll bind up your wounds.
He knows you’re afraid. He’ll never leave you nor forsake you.
He knows what’s happening right now isn’t good. He’s working it out for good.
He knows this world is a broken mess. He’s busy creating a new heaven and a new earth.
None of this was His idea. The world He created was good and lovely and perfect, and our sin came along and messed it up. He’s been working out a plan to reclaim it ever since, and one day he’ll put everything right. He’ll exchange beauty for ashes and joy for mourning and our lives will never be stupid, lousy or miserable ever again.
We’re promised a “happily ever after” and one day we’ll get it–white horse, prince, kingdom and all.
Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.