|photo credit: Jill A. Brown via photopin cc|
This is what I reminded myself of last week when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. So many Christians believe that we "deserve" to live a worry-free life since God is on our side, yet this is not the case.
John 16:33 (NLT) says,
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
When we give our lives to God, we can trust that every situation we face is in His hands. There are multiple reasons He may allow us to experience trials--one is so that we can learn lessons that we may not have grasped any other way.
In my case, there are already 5 things God has shown me since my diagnosis:
1. It's all about perspective.
In this case, I am grateful that I now have a diagnosis and treatment. This past month I have been experiencing crazy symptoms: constant thirst, hair falling out, sudden weight loss, dizziness, etc. Now that I'm on treatment, these symptoms have subsided. (I've even gained back three pounds already!). How frustrating would it have been to come back from the doctor without a diagnosis or any way to treat those symptoms?
I am also very thankful that I did not get diagnosed with anything worse than diabetes. I can still live a normal life, I will just have to make adjustments. (And you can imagine how happy I was to find out that I can still drink coffee!)
So rather than blaming God for some illness you may now have--or for your "bad day"--trust Him and thank Him anyway. Satan wants us to focus on our problem because he knows we will become miserable by doing so. Yet when we lift our eyes and focus on God, we can see our situation through His eyes, and we will realize that "He is with us and will never leave us" (Deut. 31:8) and that "we are more than a conqueror through Him" (Rom. 8:37).
2. This life is not about us.
It can become so easy to live with a selfish mindset. Besides, we go throughout our entire day focused on ourselves: our time, our desires, our tasks, etc. We tend to keep that mindset, all the while blinded to the needs and wants of others. Yet God says we are to put others before ourselves (Phil. 2:3). We are not called to live our days according to us. God has given us the gift of time, and we need to use that by being a blessing to others. There are so many ways we can reach out to those who are less fortunate, and even a portion of our day devoted to them could really make a difference.
3. God can turn around any situation that Satan meant for harm.
Whatever the case, I am not going to let Satan win in this situation by letting this disease discourage me. Rather, I am going to trust that there is so much good that can result from this.
Genesis 50:20 (NLT) says:
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."
4. God is aware of all of our situations.
This couldn't be further from the truth, and it always makes me upset when I hear another Christian say something along these lines. Again, God never said we would have a worry-free life, and just because we may face difficulties does not mean He isn't with us.
Think about it: God sent His son to die a criminal's death on a cross. But that doesn't mean He didn't love Him! Rather, God knew the end result was going to be much greater than the momentary persecution.
The good news is that we serve a big God: There is nothing we will face in life that is too big for Him, and He is with us every step of the way.
5. Trials build muscle. We were never intended to live a comfortable, smooth sailing life.
In that movie, the main character, Daniel, wants to learn how to do karate--but rather than learning how to fight, his instructor makes him do chores such as painting a fence, waxing a car, etc. Daniel doesn't understand the purpose behind this work and becomes frustrated that his instructor isn't allowing him to do what he really wants.
However, Daniel later realizes that he had been practicing for karate all along. Although those tasks seemed pointless to Daniel at the time, his instructor showed him that he was actually building the muscles he needed in order to learn karate.
Similarly, many times God will answer our prayers by allowing us to go through trials that aren't necessarily comfortable. Yet rather than getting angry with him (like Daniel first was with his master), we need to understand that He sees the big-picture. Some prayers can only be answered through hardships. (For example: If you ask God for more patience, He may answer that prayer by putting you in situations that will give you no choice but to build patience.)
Whatever the case, trust that God knows what He is doing, He knows far more than you, and learn whatever lessons that He may be trying to teach you during this trial.
No, God did not call us to have a comfortable, smooth-sailing life. But I'm glad He didn't. He has a greater purpose for us than that, and the only way we can get there is if we first go through times that strengthen our faith and leave us with no choice but to rely on Him.
In the heat of a moment, it's not always easy to find the "bright side", or to remember that God is with us and can turn any situation around for good. However, it is during these times when it is crucial we do just that. We aren't called to only trust in God when our circumstances are going great!
When the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness for years, they made their situation much worse than it could've been. Rather than continuing to thank God for freeing them from Egypt, they chose to complain; Rather than being grateful for the manna He blessed them with, they longed to have the food they used to eat in Egypt (Num. 11:4-6). Not only did this mindset during their wilderness cause them to be miserable, but it kept them from reaching their Promised Land.
When you go through a wilderness in your life, refuse to have the kind of attitude the Israelites did. Instead, thank God for the many ways He has blessed you and trust that His ways are always best.
Perhaps the only way you can reach your "promised land" is by first going through the wilderness--so if that's where you currently are in life, then you know there must be a promised land somewhere along the horizon. =)
✎ Have you ever gone through a time when you had to completely rely on God to pull you through? Looking back, can you now see why God may have allowed you to go through that season?