Romans 8:28, “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.”
It is really easy to shout this verse from the rooftops when things are going well. When our finances are in check, our relationships are on good terms, our family is healthy, and I happen to be having a good hair day—then by all means, yes, I can say that God is working all things together for my good. But how easy is it for us to believe it when life becomes hard? When things aren’t going our way? Marriage problems. Girlfriend Drama. Financial Struggles. Health Issues. Parenting Difficulties or in the case of others, Difficulties with Parents. Need I say more?
The road that God chooses for us is often not the road that we expect.
Nor is it the road we would so readily follow. God’s way is not always the easy street, filled with comfort, fame and fortune. It is not the magic 8 ball with every wish being met at our beck and call. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. That is a lot easier said than done.
Scripture is chockfull of illustrations. Rather than taking the quick and easy route, God led the Israelites into the wilderness. After waiting years and years for a son, God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. God allowed Satan to wreak havoc with Job, leaving him a widow, fatherless and homeless. God permitted Joseph to be rejected by his own kin, his brothers, and sold into slavery. Think about Esther—she was an orphan and forced to be in the king’s harem at a very young age. Ruth was a widow and a foreigner. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.
And why even Jesus, God’s very own son, had to suffer. He was sent from heaven to earth, where everyone rejected him. EVERYONE…even the ones who loved him the most. He was sent here to suffer and die.
Even with the foreknowledge of how these Bible stories end, we doubt that God knows what is best for us because our lives haven’t turned out exactly like we imagined. We all imagined a stress-free life with no pain or sorrow. We imagined a life filled with only sunshine and happiness.Therefore when we experience difficulties and struggles and disappointments, we act surprised. We question whether or not God really is in control.
We wonder, “Why does it have to be this way?”
1 Peter 1:6-7 elaborates, “You may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
Three years ago God moved our family to Austin. I deliberately say that “God” moved our family because it wasn’t my idea. Never before in my lifetime have I seen God work in such an obvious and forthright way. There was confirmation after confirmation after confirmation that we were supposed to move. In fact, a close friend and mentor told me, “Sue, you are at a point in your life where if you don’t move, you will be in outright disobedience to God. He has been so direct with you.” With such clear direction our family picked up, took a leap of faith and moved away from our family and beloved friends. In my mind, I thought everything would fall perfectly into place once we arrived. I think in my mind I expected some kind of welcoming parade for us with complete strangers cheering, “Yeah! The Allen’s are here!”
It’s pretty safe to say that things did not work out that way.
There was no welcoming committee! And I would be completely lying if I proclaimed that we were “living in victory.” Our move was anything but easy! The sale of our house in Houston fell through 3 times and was on the market much longer than we ever expected. The rental house we moved into had a slew of mechanical and structural problems. Our first Christmas in Austin was spent with my husband working and the kids and I wearing winter coats because the actual temperature in our condo was 40 degrees. The heater was out for 3 days before I could find a repairman to come. Our son was hit by a car in the drop-off lane at school during our second week here, suffering a broken nose. Our kids were incredibly angry with us (and still perhaps to this day, are) for moving them away from their friends. My husband’s contract for his job took over 2 years to be finalized. There have been times when I have felt so lonely…and my family has too. My kids have been ridiculed for being a Christian and going to church by their peers and in some instances, even their teachers. The lil’ church bubble we were once living in in Houston popped as soon as we entered Austin city limits.
I often wondered, “Why Lord did you bring us here? How can this possibly be for our good?”
C.S. Lewis says this, “The full acting out of the self’s surrender to God therefore demands pain: this action, to be perfect, must be done from the pure will to obey, in the absence, or in the teeth, of inclination.”
With Houston behind us and a wilderness before us, we had to be deliberate in choosing God. Would we follow Him even if the way was difficult? Even if we could not see around the next bend?
Looking back in the rearview mirror, I can say now that this move was good for my family and me. We’ve rooted deeper into His Word and leaned heavily on Him.