I'm an avid journaler. My favorite way to start the day is with a cup of coffee and my pen in hand. I write my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences, and my conversations with The Lord. I'm on my fourth journal this year. When I write, I write.
Writing has been such a refuge for me. It allows me to come to a better understanding of who I am in Christ, and it helps me to communicate with Him. It is also a way for me to see how He answers my prayers when I begin to doubt. And, let me tell you, I’m all too quick to doubt God and his provision.
It's much easier for me to trust God when my life feels like it's in order. When things are going according to the way I envision them and the way I want them, then I praise God and trust that He wants what is best for me. When I'm facing challenges or trials, I tend to ask God why: Why do I have to deal with this, why are you doing this, and how can this possibly be for my good?
In looking back on my journals, though, I can often see how things that hurt or disappointed me in the moment are actually for good. Take, for example, this prayer that I wrote down in May:
"Father, I ask that you remove my desire to control. Help me to surrender. You've helped me in that before, but there are still things I am holding tightly that I surrender to you: my job, my apartment, my finances, my relationship. Father, I ask for continued fruit of patience in my life. I desire you above all else—let that sentiment saturate my daily existence!
I pray you keep protecting me and my heart, and this relationship. Let us into each other's messes and grant us the wisdom to support one another through it. I pray for trust and showing our true, broken selves to each other, Lord. And knowing that we find perfection in you."
I asked God to specifically reveal any brokenness in my relationship with my boyfriend.
And a mere three days after I prayed that, we broke up.
God definitely let us into each other's messes. He definitely revealed brokenness. I believe He protected me, too.
The Lord is working for our good. And ultimately He’s working to bring glory to His name here on earth. He's making everything fit into His plan. Not our plan. His.
Nothing is a surprise to God. He knows me and my life more intimately than anyone else. He sees the whole picture, from beginning to end, while I see just a tiny frame. I take a snapshot and then think I know the whole story. I don't. None of us do.
But as a wise friend told me: God wants our faith more than our understanding.
I mean, there it is. We walk by faith, not by sight, right?
It’s not about me.
It’s not about what I want.
It’s not about what I think I need.
It’s not about my time or my place or my feelings.
It's about God.
It's all about God.
God is doing what it takes to bring His purpose to pass. Sometimes I doubt Him because I don’t know what that purpose is. I can’t quite hear Him. I just want my life to look like a scene from the Old Testament. I want God’s voice to ring so loudly in my ears that it hurts. I want to see a burning bush on the side of the street. I want Him to part the Hudson River. I want A SIGN, and I want to know exactly what to do and why things are happening as they are.
The Lord is giving us subtle signs of His answers all the time—sometimes that answer is a resounding no. We have to be ready to accept that the answers can (and probably will) look very different than the ones we imagined. We have to trust He has a reason for that. I was watching Friday Night Lights this weekend and one of the characters says to her son, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” Pretty solid truth for a one-hour NBC drama.
With God, truly all things are possible. He replies to our prayers in the smallest ways every single day. Through the conversations we engage in. Through the people we pass by on the streets. Through each decision we make—or don’t.
Faith means that we won’t always understand His reply, and still we believe. Yes, I can look back on my journals and see how certain prayers have been answered in sweet, unexpected ways. There are plenty of other instances, though, when I look back and I don’t recognize God’s goodness. I don’t understand.
I am beginning to see God’s grace in that. Even when I don’t get it, even when I feel more distant than ever, I can confidently say that He hears us. He hears us, He listens, and He knows.