Russ Taff, James hollihan and Victoria Taff wrote one of the songs that I loved since my youthful days. The opening lines goes, “Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why we pull away from each other so easily even though were all walkin’ the same road. Yet we build dividing walls between our brothers and ourselves, but I, I don’t care What label you may wear, if you believe in Jesus, You belong with me, the bond we share And all I care to see it will change the world forever if you will join with me, join and sing, sing…”
Well, I too have found myself saying the same words. Sometimes it’s hard to understand! To understand many things. Why God doesn’t allow things to happen straightaway. Why God allows the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper! Why bad things happen to good people? An important lesson that I am continuing to learn each day is that God works things out in his own perfect timing.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to understand. You pray and feel convinced in your spirit that God is with you on this plan and set out to do what you have been seeking the Lord’s face for. At first things go smoothly and praise the Lord. But then suddenly things fall apart and you begin to wonder:
Is God really there and with me in this? Did I really hear you God correctly? What is happening here Lord?
Well, I have been there and let me share some of the things that I found out in the process. Let us look at Paul in Acts 16. He was serving God and building the church. Things were going great. Until they were not. Now pay attention to this:
“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
If you did not do geography like I did, you might need a little bit of a geography lesson: Paul was heading east into Asia. That’s what he thought God wanted him to do.
When that door closed, he could have gotten discouraged and confused and quit. He did not. Instead, he figured he would go up the coast of Asia to Bithynia and preach there.
When that door closed, he could have gotten discouraged and confused and quit. He did not. Instead, he waited to see what God was up to then went where God told him to go: west to Macedonia – the exact opposite direction of where he had started. He understood what you and I fail to connect:
When God closes a door, He does it with a purpose. He’s re-directing your paths. Men and women may say all kinds of things against you. Keep in mind, God is still working on you, to make you what you ought to be. Sometimes through the fire, and sometimes through the flood, but God leads His dear children along. Do not despise the path the Lord has cut out for your brother. God means good for him. Just pray for him and do not be a holier than thou.
When God closes a door, He does it with a purpose and redirects your paths. He sometimes does it through broken plans. He can do it through devastated dreams. He sometimes even does it through unexpected failures. Name it, career, marriage, education, business including all your successes in life. But there is a catch to all this.
God always, and I mean ALWAYS does everything for your good. It may be bitter now, but God has the long term plan in mind. It is a crucible of righteousness. You are being refined as gold. You might be facing some unexpected detours in your life today. You might be tempted to quit. You might think that you are a big failure. One thing you can do is emulate what Paul did:
God uses broken plans to re-direct your paths. God uses what looks like a failure in your life to get you where he wants you to be. To stumble and fall is not the end, unless you refuse to rise up. God created you for a purpose and He will do whatever it takes to get you there. When Paul got to Macedonia, Lydia was waiting for him.
And who knows who might be waiting for you in your unexpected Macedonia? There may be a special Lydia there. Find out!
Your broken dreams are not a mistake. They’re simply a detour to get you where God wants you. Listen to God.
Quite honestly, one of the best answers I’ve ever come across to the question why things happen in a bad way so to speak, was written by C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis likened God’s use of adversity to walking a dog. If the dog gets its leash wrapped around a pole and tries to continue running forward, he will only tighten the leash more. Both the dog and the owner are after the same end:
Forward motion. But the owner must resist the dog by pulling him opposite of the direction that he wants to go. The master, sharing the same intention, but understanding better than the dog where he really wants to go, takes an action precisely opposite to that of the dog’s will. It is in this way that God uses adversity!
We really don’t like being pulled and corrected by the Lord — but when we understand there’s a greater purpose involved, then we can pass through adversity with hope, expectation and steadfastness knowing these events are for our greater good!
Let’s learn from the trials and tribulations we go through because God has a purpose in them. We may not enjoy it, but when all’s said and done, enduring trials faithfully will produce perseverance, character, and hope. And hope will not disappoint us for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…[Romans 5:4-5] We truly can trust in the God who loves us with an everlasting love because He knows the direction we need to go, AND He knows exactly how to get us there!
When Jesus said in the Garden, “Not My will, but Thine be done,” He was not entering into a passive mode of resignation to inevitable circumstances. He was actively consenting to glad participation in the divine will. We need to be careful at this point. For sometimes when we are exhorted, to look positively at the difficult aspects of the divine will, we settle into an attitude rather like that of a rebellious teenager ( we have some in the home) who chafes under parental discipline, and can’t do anything about it except project a constant attitude of disapproval of what he/she has to endure, and plays this one possibility to the hilt – technically submitting to the parental will, but realistically living in open, although muted, resistance to it and resentment of it.
So try this. Next time God’s will and yours don’t see eye to eye, and before you get horribly bent out of shape, remind yourself that you don’t know all the circumstances so you can’t make a definitive assessment of the situation as to whether it is ultimately good or bad. Then remember that God claims His will is “good, acceptable and perfect.” Give Him the benefit of the doubt and concentrate on the positive things that you know can come out of glad acceptance of His plan. You may be surprised at the way life becomes less of a struggle and God’s will becomes less of a problem.