“I’ve fought so hard
to be your faithful daughter.
I wanted so badly
to make you proud, Father,
to make the best decision,
using all I see,
But now that choice
has been taken from me.
I know You’re here,
I know You are,
but I feel so alone,
and You feel so far.
As I try harder
to pursue You with a pure heart
My world crumbles to pieces
as it falls apart.
God, You promised to not give me
more than I could handle.
Now my once roaring faith
has been reduced to that of a candle.
What did I do wrong?
What did I even do?
Where have I committed sin
or done wrong against You?
I know You can work this out,
but where did You go?
I thought I was doing right,
but I no longer know.”
You’ve been doing everything right. Something big has come up that’s tested your faith, your relationship with God, and your relationship with others. Though it hurts and it’s confusing, you’ve been praying through the tears, remaining faithful though it’s been hard, and shining as brightly as you possibly can in this dark time. And then, just when you think you’ve finally glimpsed God’s hand in this, everything crashes around you. It seems the harder you try, the worse things get, and the more you fail. You don’t think you can take anymore, and you’re sure God wouldn’t allow you to take anymore. But then He does.
It reminds me of this scene in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012):
Bofur: [after falling] Well, that could have been worse…
[Great Goblin falls on the dwarves]
Dwalin: Oh, you’ve got to be joking!
You know God has a plan and you know God’s in control, so why are peace and faith suddenly so elusive? And what can you do during this time? How can you survive?
First of all, though you may not understand, remember God has a plan. I know this can get really old really fast. Encouragement and faith all seem to be based on this Jeremiah-29:11-type stuff. And sometimes, when you’re in pain, you just stop caring. You want it to stop. But apathy won’t make things better. When you have a peace that surpasses all understanding, you can weather anything, because you have complete faith in God.
Don’t think I’m spouting Sunday school answers to hard questions. I know the truth is often repetitive, but I believe this down to my soul. What you’re going through right now isn’t just a test, but an opportunity. Do you have enough faith to follow God’s plan when you’re hurting? When nothing makes sense?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Oftentimes, we won’t understand what God’s doing. We will be hurt and confused. And this is a good thing. We need trials to test us, because if we only have faith when it’s easy, then we don’t have faith at all.
Next, keep doing the right thing when the wrong thing is happening. I know it seems like doing the right thing should cause the right thing to happen, and it will, but it often takes a while. You can’t expect the seeds you sow now to grow overnight. This pain and stress is only for a season, and eventually the right things will start happening. This situation will turn around, and you’ll be a better person by the end of it. The point is that your actions and your character can’t be based on circumstances. If you’re only loving when it’s convenient, you’re not loving. If you’re only selfless when things are going you’re way, you’re not selfless. If you’re only patient when you’re in the mood to be, you’re not patient.
Character and principles are not things that should be seasonal. They should remain constant throughout your life, because of who you are and Whose you are.
Finally, keep giving this situation over to God. Do it however many times you have to. My Dad told me that once he was at the dentist, and this particular dentist was poking mercilessly at his gums. Dad would tense up at the pain, only to remind himself to loosen up and endure it. Ten seconds later, he’d tense up again. In the midst of pain, peace isn’t easy or natural; it’s something you need to fight for.
And while peace is great, because it makes any trial emotionally endurable, the main reason you need to stay at peace is to show faith.
During my last trial (which I keep vaguely referring to), I was given the opportunity to learn more about the decision I was going to make. I completely ignored the opportunity, because that was the best way I knew how to show God that I trusted Him. I trusted that He had all the information I needed and that He’d guide me. It felt so crazy and counter-intuitive, but I knew that faith isn’t just a feeling—it’s an action.
Joel Osteen says, “When you rest, God goes to work.”
He doesn’t mean being apathetic or lazy; he means being at peace. Peace shows God that you trust Him. When I first began driving, my mom would start yelling if I didn’t press the brakes soon enough. She was pretty eager to get me to slow down in time, oftentimes repeating the word “stop” in a loud voice and without taking breaths in between repetitions. If my mom had told her friends of her incredible confidence in my early driving abilities, but then they’d seen how she acted in the passenger seat when I was driving, they wouldn’t believe her.
You can say you trust in God all you want, and I encourage you to do so, but you have to have the actions to prove it. When we freak out under stress and pressure, it shows that our faith in God is waning. I don’t quite understand the effects our faith has on God’s actions, but I know faith is powerful and important. It’s necessary to survive any trial—and more importantly—to have a relationship with God.
I don’t regret a single moment of the trial I faced, even during the trial. What’s really ironic is that I had the greatest sense of peace and faith right after things had gotten harder and more painful than I could ever imagine they would. Then I realized that the only thing that mattered was my relationship with God. The rest was simply details, and they didn’t matter, because I knew God had a plan for whatever happened. If it was in God’s plan, then it would be perfect. Now I not only know in my head, but believe in my heart that God is all I will ever need.
“Dawn charges in
as trumpets blare their sound.
God has lifted me up.
What I have lost, He’s found.
In the past was pain,
but joy fills the now.
I’ve clung to my faith,
and I’ve kept my vow.
Despite stumbling a time or two,
God’s blessed everything—
and He’ll do the same for you.
He can give peace for tears.
He can give joy for fears.
His faithfulness bathes me in awe
as He heals the places
that once were so raw.
His word and presence
are a balm to my soul.
And I realize if I had to,
I could let all else go.
I’ve yearned to write this poem,
even as I churned words of sorrow.
Remember: tonight may be dark
but joy comes tomorrow.”
What trials are you facing right now? What in your life isn’t going like it’s “supposed to?”