As we go through our day-to-day lives, we experience a reality that makes perfect sense to us. We run into a friend at the grocery and we call it a coincidence. We get a cold, have to rearrange our schedules, and feel stressed about meeting deadlines. We have an argument with one of our kids and lose a night’s sleep. But what might God have been up to in these situations?
In running into our friend and quickly moving on to deal with other issues, we miss that what they said to us were actually God’s words to us. The cold we saw as an interruption, may have been God’s way of slowing us down and strengthening us for our next challenge. Feedback we received during the argument with our kid, might be sign of ways we need to support them better – God’s warning sign.
God is at work around us ALL THE TIME, but we move so quickly that we miss 99.9% of what He is doing, and often say He never speaks to us. In Isaiah 55:8 God (speaking through Isaiah) says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” God has a perspective on the things we experience that go well beyond the concrete facts. He sees a bigger picture behind everything. He knows why “coincidences” occur, He is working to give us what we need, even when we don’t know what we need, and He is preparing us for the future. God wastes nothing!
Painful experience are often the most difficult to understand. Why would God allow us to be in pain if He really loves us? Why would He allow family members to get sick and even die, if He really cared for us? Why would He make us struggle if His promise to provide for us was really genuine? These are some of the toughest questions asked by both believers and non-believers.
Its never helpful for us, as believers, to say to others in pain, “God must have a purpose for what you are going through”. This statement seems insensitive to those walking through darkness. However, God does use the things we go through for good (Romans 8:28) even though we don’t always get the gift of God’s perspective on them. Getting the gift of His perspective is more likely however, when we take the time to reflect and ask Him to give us insights.
As a spiritual director and executive coach, I can confidently say that many of the worst experiences people have, they claim as blessings in the long-term. A lost job results in a new, more exciting career path. A serious illness helps one gain a new perspective on life and changes their priorities. An unexpected move cross country forges new relationships that energize and add new dimensions to life. Its only in reflecting that we come to see these blessings and a drawn into gratitude for what God has been doing on our behalf.
In our December 7 Seeking Stillness Retreat (register at www.seekingstillness.org) we will begin to develop muscles for reflection and connection with God’s perspective on our lives. Whether you can join us for this day or not, I encourage you, as we approach the end of 2019, to take time to reflect and ask God for His perspective on your year, especially those parts of it that were not the most pleasant. God wastes nothing!