It has been said that “Life is to be lived forward, and understood backwards.” That is so hard for most of us! We want to understand first. Whenever we face a problem or challenge, we want to know the details and know “why?” from the start. But life doesn’t let us read ahead. We have to wait for it to be lived. Hopefully in time, answers will be clearer.
Brennan Manning, wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel: “When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt. I hope and get discouraged. I love and I hate. I feel bad about feeling good. I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games.”
What a tangled mess of conflicting thoughts and emotions we can be! We tend to pray that God will take away our difficulties, protect us from bad stuff, make life easier, and shield us from tragedy. Then, if He doesn’t, we get angry and tell Him how we really feel. We struggle with God, and sometimes we pout.
Those moments are more dangerous than most of us know. God can certainly handle our anger, and He’s already heard every word in the dictionary; so that’s not the dangerous part. The danger is that our feelings toward God will cause us to want to distance ourselves from Him – that we will stay angry with God, as if whatever happened is His fault!
God is bigger than any problem, crisis, or pain. Give Him time to help you understand. Take this day’s circumstances and determine to make it through with God’s help. Let your faith grow in the places where understanding is slow. My faith reminds me that God is good (all the time), and that He knows what He is doing even when I cannot figure it out.
I cannot choose my circumstances, but I can choose my attitude in every circumstance. My faith in God helps me rejoice even when I don’t understand. The Apostle Paul wrote more than half of the New Testament books, and most of them were penned while he was imprisoned for his faith. My daily perspective is helped when I re-read his most positive letter, written from jail. “But even if my life is to be poured out like a drink offering to complete the sacrifice of your faithful service (that is, if I am to die for you), I will rejoice, and I want to share my joy with all of you. And you should be happy about this and rejoice with me…Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (Philippians 2:17-18; 4:4 NLT)
Lord, help me today! I cannot figure all of this out by myself. Only you know all the reasons why. Help me to trust You with what I do not understand. Even in life’s most difficult times, remind me that I can receive Your help and strength. I will live this day for you! I choose joy, in spite of pain. I choose to be Your child, and exercise faith to trust You when life gets hard. Fill me with Your joy! Amen.
Submitted by Pastor Fred Morrison, Senior Pastor, First Church of the Nazarene in Valley City