Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way we always thought it would.
Sometimes we feel like we’re left with more questions than answers – more waiting than action – more hours of crying than smiling. Sometimes, something that seemed like it would be so perfect just wasn’t.
That dream school – that relationship – that job – that friendship – that trip – that opportunity. When everything felt so right, so God-led, so hopeful, and nothing comes, it’s easy to become discouraged. The question is not, “God, if You’re good, why did this happen to me?” as much as, “God, when I felt like You were leading me to this place, did I hear Your voice wrong? Was I wrong to trust You for this? Are You still as faithful as I though You promised me that You were?”
And as I’ve been walking through this, I’ve realized a few things.
I’ve realized that if I make the object of my joy, my satisfaction, and my hope anything other than pursuing Jesus Christ, I’ll never find the peace in my heart that I crave, even if my circumstances seem to be exactly what I thought I wanted.
I want to be faithful right where I am, trusting the God that’s directing me to right where He has for me to be. Not because those circumstances are the ones I’m dreaming of – but because I will only find true joy when I’m pursuing the Person of Jesus, not because I think He’s a shortcut to achieving my own desires.
For where else can we find hope in our brokenness? Where else can we find grace for our weakness? Joy in heartache? Peace in the midst of missed opportunities, rejection, and despair?
I know how it feels to be soul-wearied and exhausted. I know what it’s like to slip into bed at night, hoping six hours of sleep and a half dozen cups of coffee will fix things, and waking up in the morning to the same thoughts, the same uncertainties, the same frustration, the same pain.
I know how it feels to look in the mirror and to feel as though no amount of makeup or hair product or new clothes will make you feel like a different person. That there is nothing you can possibly put on that will make you feel whole, or enough, or worth it, because those issues run so much deeper than a mirror can reveal.
I know what it’s like to simply let out tears and write depressing poetry because there’s no way to change hurt or rejection or what someone else said – whatever happened just happened, and sometimes you just can’t be comforted.
And sometimes it feels like Jesus just isn’t enough.
Hi, God? I know You say You love me. And I think I believe it. But when You said You would fulfill your promises to me, were You including the ones that I thought I heard from You? When You said You’d give me the desires of my heart, did you really mean it? When You told me Your grace covered everything, did You also mean my heartache? Because I’m pretty sure I can’t do this on my own, and I don’t know exactly what I need right now, but I need You.
I need Your love to envelop me. I need Your grace to surround me. I need Your promised faithfulness to hold me. I need Your goodness to give me joy in this moment – because all I see is darkness, and just as it’s terrifyingly easy to forget the voice of an old friend – I think I might be forgetting what Your voice sounds like.
I don’t want to be alone, Lord. I don’t want to be hopeless. I don’t want to feel this broken. I don’t want this discouragement to turn to despair. But it doesn’t seem I’m going to be bubbling over with happiness anytime soon.
So maybe, if You can, could You show me a sliver of hope? Could You remind me of Your goodness? Could You provide me with some of that peace that surpasses all understanding? Because I sure could use a good dose of that.
I can’t speak on behalf of God.
I don’t know His mind, how He decides what things work out and what things fall through. But I do know His heart, His character, His faithfulness.
And something I’m learning in the darkness, is that in all of history, He has not forsaken His people – and we won’t be the first.
Psalm 9:9-10 says, and I love this,
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”
When I read that word, forsaken, a few things come to mind.
I think about Abraham. He was called out of his homeland – God said, “go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) And so he did, not knowing where he was going. And still, when he reached that destination, he lived in tents as a foreigner. He followed where God led, but wasn’t quite home yet, and still he died without witnessing all that God had promised.
The other night, I was reading Hebrews 11, and all of this came alive to me. Verses 13-16 especially stood out, because of how much the stories of God’s people through the ages reflect our experiences as Christians.
They knew God promised something to them.
They believed Him, and welcomed those promises.
And they died without seeing everything fulfilled.
Yet, they still knew God was good, and faithful, and worthy of their trust.
Why? Because they knew Heaven was awaiting them, and that was the home they were placing their hope in – not the one of this world. The eternity we are welcomed into as people of God is so much higher, and greater, and better than anything this world offers.
And as I’m still figuring out my life, wading through this mire of uncertainty, and ache, and darkness, this gives me hope. God’s faithfulness is not dependent on my faithfulness. His goodness is not dependent on my performance. His promises are not dependent on my faultlessness. He doesn’t love me because I am good – He loves me because He is good.
I don’t know where you are right now. I don’t know if you’re dancing in the sunshine or curled up, breaking, in the darkness.
But something I’m learning these days, is that joy doesn’t have to leave just because challenges come up. Joy is quiet and slow, not always flashy or exciting. In the midst of our hurt, Jesus doesn’t always come swooping in to fix our circumstances, but sits with us in our mourning, walks with us through the confusion, promises never to leave us in our messes. He knows exactly what we face, for He Himself knows all of our pain and can relate to every one of our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15).
This hope we have, that this life we now live is not the end, that grace applies to our everyday lives and not just our one moment of salvation, and that His faithfulness to us is ever-present is a pocketful of promises to hang onto.
Disappointment exists. Pain exists. Doubt exists. Heartache exists. But the sweet thing about walking with Jesus is that because He has overcome the world, none of these things have the final say. No matter what we are upholding in our lives, He is so much greater.
He is greater than the greatest relationship you could ever imagine. Greater than the best opportunity, best circumstance, best reality.
And He is greater than the most crushing weight you could ever experience.
We cannot fix pain with commodities, nor can we find lasting hope in anything other than the promise of presence, peace, and eternity in Jesus Christ.
So as we walk through our struggles, our ache, our insecurities – for we all know that they flood in and overwhelm us, we can tell the darkness, “I know you’re here, but you won’t win. My God is greater, and I know He’s still faithful, just as He always has been.”
I’m working on letting go. On giving God my dreams and knowing that He can hold them so much better than I can. On centering my mind on His will above mine. On seeing His steady faithfulness in the midst of the storms.
He is so good, even when life seems like it’s not.
And even when we cannot see, He has won. And we are ever-loved and ever-held by Him.