The circumstances of life don't always allow for a smooth ride. You've been there, I've been there, our friends and family - and likely our churches - have been there, too.
We lose people. We have to live broke for a while. We feel purposeless. Our ministries stop growing. Our marriages and/or families hit a rough spot. We wait on God for answers. We fail. We grow weary.
Have you been there? Have you been there while you're in the middle of doing what God called you to do?
It can feel discouraging for a moment. Our souls hit this turmoil and we start asking:
Why is this ministry withering when God lead me to start it?
Why are we broke when I took the job God called me to?
Why did my family forsake me when I needed them most?
Why aren't you taking care of this issue like I thought you told me you would?
"And hey God, if YOU lead me here then why is it THIS hard?"
And so, often times, we begin to doubt.
"Well, I must have been wrong. This can't be from God because God wouldn't make it this hard."
He wouldn't make it hard? Are you sure?
When I look at what the Lord allowed Jesus to go through, I'm not so convinced...
Jesus. He spent the night before He was to be crucified sweating blood as He prayed for Himself, His disciples, and us.
Jesus. Who was betrayed by a close friend, Judas, one of His disciples, for just 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus. He was denied by, arguably His closest disciple, Peter, the morning He would be crucified after predicting it would happen.
Jesus. He was mocked, severely scourged and traded in for infamous murderer, Barabbas, to be crucified.
Jesus. Who, after literally being scourged nearly to death, had to carry his own cross up to where He would willingly be crucified for sins He did not commit.
Jesus. He was nailed to the cross, with a crown of thorns on His head, while men cast lots for His garments.
Jesus. Humbly obedient to the point of death. He was born for this very purpose; to suffer for our sins.
And what about everything before this?
What about how He was tempted by the devil Himself in the desert while fasting?
What about how He spent most of His life having to conceal that He was the Son of God, in perfect humility?
What about how He even chose to descend from His throne in Heaven to walk and live amongst imperfect, sinful people?
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8
If God would allow it be this difficult for Jesus - His perfect, blameless, only begotten Son - then WHY do we utter such words as "God would not allow it to be this hard if it's what He wanted me to do"?
Yes, my friends. Yes, sometimes, He would.
"God will not necessarily protect us from what makes us look more like Jesus." - Elisabeth Elliot
The love of God did not protect Jesus from the cross, it lead Him there (Sandy MacIntosh). God has never promised us a scot-free journey through this life. The other men and women we love so much from Scripture had lives of struggle, too.
Abraham. Was called to go with no destination and waited years for the fulfillment of God's promise to Him.
Sarah. Was barren for years.
Stephen. He was stoned for his faith.
Hannah. Struggled to conceive a son.
Joshua. Lead an army through years of conquest to get to the Promised Land after watching Moses fail.
Paul. Spent most of His life in prison for the sake of the Gospel.
We deprive ourselves of the truth without even realizing it, and reduce the sovereignty of God to fit within our "feel good" box.
When our decisions aren't rooted in prayer, we open ourselves up to the kind of doubt that says, "God would not allow it to be this hard if it's what He wanted me to do."
Now, I feel pulled to say that sometimes sin does make it tremendously harder than God ever intended it to be. So when you are in that place of difficulty, it's important to check your heart and ask the Lord to reveal any sin you need to deal with with Him. He will be faithful to answer.
But, with that said, when we have positioned ourselves to truly hear from God, we can walk in confidence - regardless of how hard it is - that we are where God wants us, and He is working it all out according to His perfect plan.
Walking a road of turmoil? Recall the moment the Lord called you to where you are, or make yourself still before the Lord until you hear from Him. Once you've heard His voice on the matter, you can walk in confidence no matter what may come.