“This is not what I wanted.” We’ve all said these words.
Whether it is a lost job, a broken relationship, failing health, or other struggle, we’ve all had to walk a path that we would not have chosen. These challenges often earn the compassion, prayers, and help of others. But we gain what feels like painful mileage as we walk each step of the difficulties God has allowed in our lives.
When circumstances are troubling and we can’t change them, how do we work towards acceptance, peace, and joy?
Know you aren’t walking alone.
Yes, we have to take each step of this journey. Sometimes, there are others to accompany you for parts of your journey. But the Lord is with us always. Psalm 23:4 ESV says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Know that life in this world isn’t perfect.
Even though I tend to be less than optimistic, I still struggle when I run into problems, especially when I am trying to do something that I think honors God. Jesus knows we struggle with this, and told us in John 16:33 ESV, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” While we have to accept that we will always have struggles here in the world, we also must remember that Jesus prevails!
Know that God is using this for His purposes.
There are many ways God can use your trials for His purposes – to make you stronger (James 1:2-4), to share in Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13), and/or to increase our faith (2 Corinthians 5:7.) But consider the truth found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Shifting our focus from the temporal to the eternal puts today’s challenges in perspective, as we trust in God’s plan for our lives. Despite what we hear practically everywhere we turn, our life mission should not be to just seek personal enjoyment and pleasure; God is preparing us for eternity!
Father, We face struggles before us that threaten to overcome us. We humbly ask You to remove these circumstances, but even if You don’t, we trust You to accomplish Your purposes through them. May we find our joy and peace in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.