You know you’ve asked yourself – or others – these questions:
If God loves me, why doesn’t He change this?
If God can do all things, why doesn’t He fix this?
What is God’s purpose in allowing me to go through this hardship?
It is in our nature to want the reasoning behind the difficulties we experience. We look and long for a lesson within the pain, a redemptive purpose, and a gradual resolution.
But the older I get, and the more I minister to others who endure hardships, the more I realize that our difficulties are more about God and what He wants to accomplish in our lives, than about us. They are more about the glory He wants to receive, and the way He wants to mold us into the likeness of His Son.
Here is what I’ve learned – through experience and years of ministering to others -- about why God asks us to do hard things:
He wants to mold and shape our character. Scripture tells us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The very next verse tells us WHY and HOW God works for the good in all things: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). That means the “good” that God works toward in our difficulties isn’t necessarily an eventual blessing or a realized dream, but the transformation of our character into Christ’s. Hard things make us more like Jesus.
He wants the relationship. God knows that when our lives are easy, we tend to think we don’t need Him. And we certainly don’t cling to Him. But when we suffer, we become more dependent on God. We realize how much we need Him. It forces us to our knees. That’s where God wants us…communing with Him, relying on His strength, bringing to Him our every concern and waiting for Him to come through for us. Our sorrows and suffering help us relate to the sufferings of Jesus. Hard things deepen our relationship with the Living God.
He wants to do through us what is beyond us. The Apostle Paul recognized, through his sufferings, that Christ’s power was made perfect in his weakness. He said “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When God asks you to do hard things, you are relying on His strength to get you through…and that glorifies God and shows the world what He can do through you. Hard things show the world how strong our God is.
It is His prerogative. Simply stated, He is the Creator, we are the created. He is God and we are not. When we realize our lives are not our own, we can more readily accept what God allows into our lives and trust that He knows what He’s doing. Scripture says “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20). If you and I call Jesus our Savior, then He is also our Master and we are owed nothing, but exist to please Him and we do so, gladly, because He’s a loving master and we wouldn’t want to be in the service of anyone else. Hard things remind us that He is God and we are not.
Since God is going to do what He is going to do, it helps for you and me to keep in mind these three things about the character of our Loving Master:
1. He is more concerned about our eternal state than our temporary happiness.
You’ve heard it said “God’s aim is not to make us happy, but to make us holy.” Well, it’s true.
2. He is good and loving and cannot act apart from His nature.
Therefore, what you deem as bad, hard, or painful, God still sees as loving and eternally good for you. I find comfort in that. Instead of instantly demanding a “reason” from God, I find peace and comfort by acknowledging He is in control and He is always good and nothing touches us that hasn’t first passed through His loving hands. That fact takes away the randomness of pain. It also takes away the desire to blame. We can then respond with a quiet surrendered trust in the One who allows whatever comes our way.
3. He knows what’s best and what He’s protecting us from.
I learned long ago that when God closes a door, allows an injury to slow us down, lets our car break down just before the trip, delays the plane, or allows us to go through a disappointment, hardship or learning curve, He is not only preparing us for something to come, but He is often protecting us from something we can’t (and might not ever) see. I’d much rather have a wise, all-knowing, all powerful God engineering the events of my life than to be thinking I’m running it myself, not knowing what lurks around the corner or waits for me further up the road.
Is God asking you to do something hard right now? Embrace it. Trust that He knows what He’s doing and thank Him for the opportunity you’ve been given to gradually become more like His Son.
Cindi McMenamin is a national women’s speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120, 000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, and When God Sees Your Tears. Her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom releases March 1 from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her ministry to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: January 20, 2016