“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:3-4 (ESV)
“…God is love.” – 1 John 4:8b (ESV)
The past few months have been a bit of a struggle, with more than one disappointment dropping onto my path. It hasn’t been any one big event as much as a series of smaller discouragements. Now, I write this very cognizant of the fact that what I’ve been facing is miniscule when compared with what a lot of other people I know have been dealing with. Still, I find no comfort in the old line, “Buck up – there are people who are going through a lot harder time than you are!” Come to think of it, there are a lot of lines I’ve heard over the weeks and months that really did nothing to help:
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
“It’s gonna be alright. Where is your faith?”
“Why are you struggling? Didn’t you get a degree in studying God?”
“Don’t sweat it. God is in control and He has a plan for you.”
Okay, that last one I should have stopped and listened to. It is one of those facts that most believers know, and tell others with ease. But, when we have to apply this truth to our own lives… that is a different matter all together.
The truth is God is actually in control. The Bible points it out. Everything – every created, tangible thing – is created with purpose. In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Even God’s Word is incredibly economical – there is not one idle, useless word in all of the Bible’s 66 books.
And what is God’s most prized creation? We are.
And what is our created purpose? The simple, corporate answer is this: to bring glory to God. While that is our ultimate purpose, I believe each of us is created with a specific, God ordained purpose as well. We are each blessed, gifted and talented in special ways, and wired in a manner that makes each and every person unique.
Consider trees. What is their function? Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and replace it with oxygen, which we need to breathe. They are remarkable air cleaners. But, specifically, some trees also perform unique functions. Some provide fruit and nuts for nourishment. Some provide shade. Some provide lumber. Some provide a nesting place – and nesting material – for birds. Some provide syrup. And on and on…
Here is my point. You are created with a purpose. And it is easy for us (easier moreover for some) to get sidetracked with our own plans and ideas and goals and strategies. We have to remember to “dedicate” what we do for God, without concern for the outcome. We have to be willing to fail – even fail big – because, as the apostle Paul wrote:
“(Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV).
When disappointment and discouragement come, don’t sit around drowning in lemonade. Let God work through the hard times to make you stronger and bring Him glory. Keep doing what God has called you to do, knowing that God is omniscient (He already knows everything, including the struggles you face – He is able to take care of every detail [Psalm 147:5, Isaiah 55:9]), omnipresent (He is always with you, wherever you go, and will never abandon you [Hebrews 13:5]), and omnipotent (there is nothing too hard for God! [Luke 18:27]).
Most importantly, God is love. You can’t lose God’s love by messing up or falling short (or by any other means). If God’s love was fickle, hanging on our worth or work or merit, it wouldn’t be love. It would be earnings. It would be works.
But God’s love is a gift of grace. And God’s love enables us to set aside the embarrassment of failure, the fear of imperfection, the pain of disappointment and the exhaustion of discouragement. In faith we can see that God can and will do great things through each of us. What we need to do is be faithful, and commit our ways to God. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV).