I’m sitting here on my couch, drinking wine while I write this out, and I’m angry. But not just any type of angry - I’m simmering angry. And quite sadly, the object of anger is a puppy.
I was trying to find some sort of food concoction that would entice my dog enough to fool him into digesting his anti-tick medicine. To no success. My dog’s list of “Absolutely Not” foods has expanded to include peanut butter, mayonnaise, Thousand Island dressing, and potato bread.
As I knelt on the kitchen floor wiping up discarded, sauce-covered medicine pieces, I started praying because I felt guilty and embarrassed at the anger I was feeling towards my poor, confused puppy. And as I prayed, I suddenly wondered if God ever gets frustrated with us during our stubborn seasons of life, when we blind ourselves to the lessons He tries to teach us through hardships or challenges. Or the way we tend to sulk when He removes bad things in our lives to protect us. How many times have we mistaken uncomfortable or painful circumstances as cruel rather than loving? We, as finite beings, are not promised an explanation for life’s troubles; however, we are promised that God’s love is always with us and that He is always working things out for the good of us who love Him.
There’s a verse from a worship song I can’t remember, but it closely follows this quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”
It’s that last line that I heard in a song, and I remembered being so impacted when I first heard it. So many times, we allow Satan to distract us from the ways God is growing or protecting us by drawing our focus to something that may seem important, but is ultimately inconsequential: the why. Why do bad things happen, why do loved ones die, why did He let this happen to me, why didn’t He stop that situation before it was too late?
I’m not saying God will never share with us the reason behind something painful, but I am saying that we should be confident enough in Who God is that we can rest in that knowledge even if we aren’t told the why. If we were to spend more time focusing on the Who, if we spent more time dwelling on heavenly things rather than earthly things, we’d find that the storms of life troubled us less. We can leave the answers and the knowing to Jesus, because He has never failed us and He promises that He will never change.
There are a number of verses in Proverbs that underscore the importance of relying on God’s wisdom over our own foolish reasoning. One such passage is my favorite:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Sometimes, we sleep in by accident and arrive at work late, and later find out that our extra sleep saved us from being in the middle of a deadly interstate pileup. Other times, we feel the tug of the Holy Spirit asking us to do something scary, and even after we’ve obeyed, He remains silent on the purpose behind His invitation. God asks us to trust Him, regardless of whether or not we agree with His ways. And why? Because He promises to make our paths straight, to direct our steps, to show us which path to take. It may not lead us to the destination we had planned for ourselves, but we can trust that it is the destination that God says is the best.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came from my younger sister during a post-graduation season in the year of covid - 2020. I was living with my parents, looking for a job, and feeling very much discouraged and overwhelmingly purposeless. Daily job searches that came up empty left me feeling like a failure, and I was miserable as I tried to plan my future without having a clue where it would lead. My sister reminded me of the scene from a Marvel movie in which Dr. Strange uses his infinity stone to play out every possible scenario to find one that could save the world. She told me that just as Dr. Strange had chosen the reality that had the best outcome, so God had gone ahead of me and knew exactly what was best for me. And even though I was worried about the future and unsure of how it would play out, she reminded me that I could trust that God had placed me exactly where I was because it was the best place for me to be. Not just an ordinary or adequate reality - the best.
I don’t know what season of waiting you’re in, what tragedy has stricken grief in your heart, or what loss has evoked a litany of whys. But this I do know. The God who created the universe, named all bazillion of the stars, and designed each kind of flower in the world - that God has a plan for your life that far surpasses anything you could ever dream, imagine, or ask.
God is the ultimate Creative. A bump in the road for us is a single brushstroke in the masterpiece He is creating with our lives. A challenging season is an opportunity for us to lean on Him and grow deeper in our relationship with Him. A heartbreaking loss provides us the opportunity to be loved by God and comfort others who may experience similar pain.
I will probably spend the weeks searching for the perfect food item to bribe my dog into taking his medicine, and there will probably be a series of trials and errors. And I will definitely get frustrated at times with the stubborn opinions of my dog’s taste buds (what dog doesn’t like peanut butter?!). But I hope it serves as a good reminder that although medicine may be bitter going down, the outcome is for our good.
“The thief comes only to steal and skill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
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