Yesterday in our Community Group (the grownup name for Sunday School) we were having a lesson on trusting God, and the discussion came around to how you trust God when circumstances are bad. When things hurt – a lot. When it seems like he isn’t taking care of you any more.
That whole concept of difficulty in life being part of God’s plan has been something I have been working through as I walked through this cancer journey. I knew that this was for God’s glory, but at the same time, was me having cancer what God wanted? If God loved me, did he want something bad to happen to me?
I have come to believe that my idea of what is good and bad is much smaller and more immediate than God’s. It has more to do with what is comfortable and pleasant for me, and much less to do with what is profitable for my spirit and character. It has more to do with what makes me happy and less to do with what makes me Christlike. I don’t necessarily have the ability to discern what is a good circumstance in the immediate.
Last night, after having this discussion in the morning, I just “happened” to read this passage (I love it when that happens). We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:3-5
When I look at my circumstances, including my troubles, as chances for God to develop his character in me, and praise him for that, there isn’t enough room for everything he will pour into my life! What does that mean? More money? Better job? No – more of HIM – more of being like him – more of what I truly need. I can trust him absolutely, even and especially when circumstances are bad, not to change the circumstances (unless he chooses to) but to give me what I need to be stronger and better and more like him through the circumstances. Generously.