“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” It sounds so comforting. But how do you tell that to your friend or family member who is suffering through hardship?
I was talking with a friend a couple of nights ago discussing a particular situation he was going through: a situation difficult to see the good in. It had to do with a guy/girl relationship. He told me that even if the situation didn’t work out he knew God was going to bring someone along to make it okay. My initial thought might usually be to agree and hopefully bring some comfort to this situation, but, owing to what God has been teaching me lately, I had to disagree. “What if God never brings someone along?” I asked. “In fact, what if God has designed for you to wake up at age 65 still sleeping alone in your bed?” This was not what he was expecting to hear. It is not really what anyone wants to hear at any time but especially when you are questioning your relationship status.
Proverbs 16:4 says, “God has made all things for his own purpose: even the wicked for the day of evil.”
God has even made the wicked for an appointed day, according to the writer of Proverbs. How does this work? When Jesus tells Peter to “Let down your nets,” in Luke 5:4, Peter had already been fishing all night with no fish to show for it. If Peter had let down the nets when Jesus told him to but caught nothing, would that make God a bad God or Jesus untrustworthy? Remember, he told Jeremiah that he would preach his entire ministry but never see a convert.
What’s my point? God is more interested in your holiness than he is your happiness. God has made all things for his purpose. That includes whatever you are currently going through or will go through in the future. God may plan for you to have a spouse and get a job, but what if that is not His plan. Will you serve Him joyfully? God is not in the business of giving us what we want. He is God and he will draw His children closer to Himself. As John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
God is not necessarily most glorified when we are happy with our current situation because we got what we wanted. Remember, Hosea was told by God to essentially go find his harlot wife and bring her back to his home. If I am Hosea my first thought is, “What?! How can God do this?”
Remember, God sees all and is not only watching but causing all things. That’s action! Don’t believe me?
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God CAUSES all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
For anyone going through hardship or for those who may be questioning what God is doing in their lives, I want you to know this. God loves you and has a divine plan for your life that includes hardship and tough times, but He is working each of these things out for your good and His glory. Even if you do not see the reasons, there will be a day when you understand. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known.”
Does this mean God gives His children bad gifts? Absolutely not. Just read Matthew 7:11. He loves to give good gifts. But good is often mistaken for what we want.
This side of glory we cannot know all the reasons God is doing what He is doing, but for me it is enough to trust Him and leave the outcome in his hands.
Every true believer should have a heart to see the world come to know Christ. It is not only a mandate from our Savior just before He ascended to heaven, but the gospel is the prominent theme throughout the New Testament.
I am convinced that a heart for missions will flow out of a daily walk with Christ. You and I are called to preach the gospel; it is our commission as believers in Christ.
In Chapter 10 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he states that there is “no difference between Jew and Greek” because all are guilty of falling short of Gods glory. He then charges these believers to share their faith and to not hold back (v-14), “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Paul specifically talks about his ministry of the gospel in Romans 1:6 when he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Our commission is not limited to our own country, political persuasion or ethnic background. Each of us has a responsibility to share our relationship with Christ – not only with our friends and family but with those whom we have never met or heard of.
As believers, we are not asked to share the gospel (the good news) that is within us, we are charged with that mandate as followers of Christ. This is why seeing the world first hand is so important. Our interaction with people in our community and around the world by way of serving will open our eyes and hearts to opportunities where we can invest the message we have with those we never thought to look for.
While in Ecuador this past July/August the team I was traveling with spent the evenings of the first week working with kids in a more rural section of the Capitol City of Quito. The children in this area were typically poorer but notably interactive and responsive. On the second evening I noticed a little boy sitting by himself. I went over and asked his name. He hugged his knees and looked between them to the ground and told me in a hushed tone that “Sebastian” was his name. He was noticeably frowning and wasn’t participating in the activities so I asked him (via translator), why he was not participating. He told me that he was thirsty. I told him to wait, I went and got a glass of water and brought it to him. Upon finishing the water (he drank all of it) I asked if we could be friends. He looked up at me for the first time, smiled, and said, “Yes, we are friends”.
My challenge every day is to practice, as Paul says in Romans 1:6, not being, “ashamed of the gospel of Christ”. There are opportunities everywhere to invest the love of Christ. It does require giving ourselves and investing our lives, something I don’t always find easy or what I want to do.
I will never forget little Sebastian or his contagious laugh and I will forever remember the sight of him walking away on our last day with him, wearing his purple headband. Missions is not always some great story of preaching the gospel to crowds or risking your life to put a Bible in someone’s hands. Many times, as in this case, it is as simple as putting a cup of water in a child’s hand, showing them the simple love that comes from a heart transformed by Gods amazing grace.