By Maria Fontaine
August 22, 2015
Do you ever look at the tests, struggles, and impossible situations you find yourself in and wonder if it might be the result of something you did wrong? Perhaps you’re in the midst of sickness and feel that God is chastising you because you haven’t lived up to your spiritual commitments? Or perhaps you see the struggles you’re facing as a sign of weak faith?
Looking at what happens in your life from this perspective comes from the assumption that God is upset or angry over your mistakes, shortcomings, and sins.
I’m sure He wants us to learn to do better, but if you see God’s hand in your life as one of anger and judgment, please ask yourself if that is consistent with Jesus’ love and example. Think about all He has given you and done for you. He’s not in the business of making you pay for what He’s already paid for. He’s in the business of using everything that comes into your life to help bring out the good, the beauty, and the qualities He created you with.
Remember that Jesus loved you before you loved Him.1 If His goal was to punish you for your weaknesses, failings, and sins, that would seem to contradict all that He has done for you. Why then would He have come to earth to die for you and to take all your sins on Himself? He knows all the blunders and sins that every one of us is guilty of. He knew that you and I would make mistakes and even sometimes intentionally disregard His counsel.
Yet, He loves us enough to see us with all our flaws and still go to such lengths to rescue us. Why would His purpose be to make us suffer retribution for what He has already forgiven us for?
I believe that Jesus is interested in maximizing our strengths and blessings. He’s like our CEO in the kingdom of heaven. What kind of CEO would be more concerned with rendering consequences and judgment than maximizing potential? Any good CEO will be focused on empowering those in his company to do their best. I believe that’s what our Lord’s goal is as well. He’s providing you with every opportunity to do your best for His “Heavenly Kingdom.com.”
So if these things that happen are not His retribution on us for being less than perfect, there has to be another purpose in what we face, which lines up with who He is and all that He’s done for us.
This earthly existence will sometimes bring struggles, times of loneliness, discouragement, sorrow, suffering, frustration, and lack of vision. Sometimes we’ll face intense hopelessness, confusion, or weariness in well-doing. But we always have the freedom to choose to turn to Jesus or not. And when we do, even the most terrible circumstances can bring us into a deeper, richer, greater understanding and relationship with Him.
It doesn’t matter how problems come, Jesus can take these setbacks and troubles and use them for His good purposes. Those of us who love Him can trust that in His time He will bring a greater good of some kind into our lives from them.
He turns what would be hell without Him into the heavenly blessings of deeper faith, stronger determination, and an abiding love for Jesus that makes it possible to face the future and accomplish our calling. We can walk with Him through anything, because the path He’s leading us along leads to an eternity in His presence, in the light of His glory and love, and the truly great and unimaginably wonderful rewards He has promised. (See 1 Peter 4.)
Sometimes what seems like something bad, something unjust or unfair could be His way of warning us of some even greater trouble that we’re heading for. Recognizing the potential for trouble can often help us avoid something far worse. Picture your computer sending you warnings by shutting down, causing you to lose work because something is wrong with your hard drive. If this happened, would you assume that the computer or the programs running it were just getting back at you by not saving your files or making you suffer loss? Or would you realize that there must be something positive that can be gleaned from what’s happening; namely you realize that your hard drive may be starting to fail and you need to buy a new hard drive before you risk losing everything.
The losses hurt, but that doesn’t mean the intent is to cause you harm or punishment. The upside of those troublesome setbacks is to help you in some way. That new hard drive will hold lots more data, run more efficiently, and make your tasks easier in the future.
That’s what our sometimes debilitating struggles can do for us. They can help us look at what is most important. They can spur us on to do more than we ever dreamed possible. Often, feeling the hopelessness of the circumstances, the frustration with the way things are, the impossibility of carrying on business as usual, helps us realize the need to get in deeper, more solid, unbreakable communication with Jesus.
And just as Jesus’ love for us was manifested in using His suffering to help us, so His love in us can be used to help others. We’re each a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use each small step we take as a tool to help others. Even as we are progressing toward spiritual victories, our faith can provide us with so much to offer in counsel, answers, and hope for others who are struggling with monumental upsets or times of severe discouragement and a loss of vision. As we learn more about the freedom, joy, mercy and compassion that Jesus makes available to us, we come to understand His nature more clearly and how to emulate Him in our own lives, today and for eternity.
1 1 John 4:19.