I always considered everything we go through part of God’s Will for our lives. Up until this point in my life, I’ve been able to rationalize every good or bad experience as being in alignment with God’s Will. I’ve lived with a very simplified understanding of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I considered the idea that "God uses things for the good of those who love him" and "His Will" as one in the same. This simplified understanding of Romans 8:28 has always got me through the tough times. Until recently. I am in a very tough season in life. I feel very much in the middle of serious spiritual warfare and I am having to dig deep to find fight left in my heart, mind and soul. And in doing so, I’ve come to a newfound perspective on why bad things happen in life.
I realized tough times are not God’s Will for our life. God created us to live in perfect harmony, in the Garden of Eden. He intended our life to be nothing but rainbows and unicorns (or coffee and chocolate – you get to define your own version of paradise and then God's version will always blow up your version and be SO much better!). It was the free will He granted us, that brought on our pain and suffering from sin. He didn’t intend for us to struggle. He didn't plan it this way. The bad things we experience are not His Will. In Matthew 6:9-10 we are taught to pray “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” His Will is carried out in heaven and we are taught to pray for His Will on earth. His Will doesn't naturally exist on earth among the sin, the pain and the suffering of this world. Jesus reinforced this understanding in John 18:36: Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” He uses things of this world (pain, suffering, tough times, etc.) to bring His Will to earth. In the big picture, His work is not done and His Kingdom has yet to come to earth. The pain and suffering we endure, is not what He wants for us. But He does save us from these tough times.
He does something incredible through our suffering. First, He reminds us to seek His Will and not worry about the future. Matthew 6:33-34 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." And then He overwhelms us with His love as a reminder that He wins the war and whatever circumstance you are facing, is just a circumstance. It is just one battle in the war. The love and peace that Christ brings us on earth, is God’s saving grace during the tough times. Tough times aren’t from God. They aren’t what He intended for us. But He doesn’t leave us to face them alone. He uses them to not only shape us, but to show immeasurable love for us. I’ve always struggled to understand how people get through tough times without leaning on God but I have realized it has nothing to do with leaning on God. We survive tough times because God loves us. We don’t lean on Him; He picks us up during our pain and suffering and surrounds us with peace, love and comfort. And this is what people miss out on when they do not have Jesus through the tough times on earth. They miss out on feeling the love and peace that is very much part of His Kingdom. They miss out on seeing the hope that His Will is yet to be done and when His Will does come to earth, the pain and suffering will be no more. Our hearts will no longer cry out in pain and we will no longer face tough times. We will only know love and peace. He uses the unimaginable, horrible things that happen to us, to remind us of and show His love for us. And He reminds us there is hope in the midst of unimaginable pain and suffering.
For those readers who are suffering, really struggling through something you cannot see or comprehend how you are going to survive through it, remember God will pick you up and overwhelm you with love, hope and peace. All you have to do, is let Him.
Love, hope and peace through tough times,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.