Hello, my name is Jen and I like to be in control.
I like to be in control of my life today and in control of my future tomorrow. I like to make plans—from deciding which days I’ll run this week to planning where I want to be in 10 years. I like routines, schedules and calendars.
But some days, and sometimes, I like to go with the flow. I do like spontaneity and the unexpected…that is, unless it goes against what I want, and until it messes with my plans.
About 18 months ago, I learned the hard way that I am not the author of my own life. I was fresh out of college at 21 years old, and I thought I knew what I was doing. I was stubborn, selfish and somehow determined. After every scrape of the knee, I got back up and told myself, “This can still work. I can still make this work.”
And then one day I fell so hard I couldn’t get up at all. There were days when I literally could not eat or sleep. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I had done absolutely everything I could to make things work, and somehow that still didn’t cut it.
Life is like that sometimes. Our knees get messy and our hearts get broken—and we’re left there, face-down on the floor, thinking, “I didn’t plan for this.”
Maybe you’ve had this experience before. Perhaps it was a broken relationship, a job rejection, a failed exam or the loss of a loved one.
When we’re dealing with these difficulties, it’s easy to ask ourselves, “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?” Sadly, some teachers in the church today will tell you just that. Some will tell you that you can live your best life now if you follow steps A, B and C. Some will even tell you that healing is yours, you need only ask for it.
But what about the woman whose cancer has returned? What about the crippled man who wheels his way into church every Sunday? What about the girl who was left at the altar because her fiance decided he wanted to be with someone else? Not to mention, what about the missionary who was executed overseas for proclaiming that Christ is Lord?
When we are going through hard times, we need to remember that not once did God promise us an easy life–He didn’t even promise that to His own Son! When we look away from feel-good teaching and look to the Word, we can discover the truth about Jesus Christ and what it means to share in His suffering. Take a look at what Isaiah 53 and Hebrews 5 say about Him:
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:2-3
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications,with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Hebrews 5:7
It is clear that Jesus suffered—see above where it says He was a “man of sorrows.” And, according to Matthew 5, we are blessed when we share in Christ’s suffering. Matthew 5:3-4 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And Matthew 5:10-12 also says, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
So maybe the preachers on television tell you that God wants you to be “happy” and have a “good life,” but we must cling to the truth as revealed to us in Matthew 5. Our reward for doing so will be an eternal one, and it will be worth it.
So when things don’t go your way, the answer is to trust God. You will suffer. Your heart will break. Your pain may be more than you think you can take.
Life is like that sometimes. Our knees get messy and our hearts get broken—and we’re left there, face-down on the floor, and God is asking us, “Who do you trust?”
The Creator of the universe and the Author of our lives has a plan for each us, but we have to trust in Him. His plan for our lives is better than anything we could plan ourselves, and He will use us and our pain to share His love with others [2 Corinthians 1:3-4]. I am living proof of that, and had I gotten what I wanted 18 months ago, I honestly believe I would be farther from God than ever, and I wouldn’t be sitting here blogging. Through my pain, He rescued me.
And through His pain, He rescued me:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5