Do you understand what God is doing in your life?
I have found that understanding what God is up to in my life at any one particular time is very very difficult. As I hear the experiences of others, I am inclined to believe that few people really understand their story. This is especially true when life is difficult or not turning out according to plan. Unfortunately, it leads to some pretty big false assumptions.
False assumptions like…
God is not with me.
I’ve blown it.
I’m not good enough.
God can’t use me.
God isn’t concerned about my life.
God must not truly be good or loving or real.
Lies like that are devastating. They will destroy your walk with God and you will never understand the truth about your story.
This post is really a follow up to something I wrote a while back called the Top Five Reasons Life is Hard. You might want to check that out here to get some really helpful context if your story seems confusing. The fifth reason that I noted that life is hard is that we often have no idea what God is really up to in our lives. Sometimes, we just don’t understand and we have to trust in the reality that God is good and is only…can only…do good things.
I’d like to add another layer of truth that may help. Here it is…
Your story isn’t just your story. Your story is a part of a much larger story that God is telling.
John Eldredge helped me see that years ago. Recently, Joseph helped me see that in the book of Genesis. I recently wrote here about Joseph and how God’s blessing can look a lot different than you might want or imagine. Again, the issue is clarity. We have such a hard time understanding how pain and struggle and waiting can be integral parts of the story that God is constructing in our lives.
A recap of Joseph’s story is that of a godly young man who is favored by his father. His jealous brothers sell him into slavery. He ends up a slave in Egypt who is falsely accused and imprisoned. I would think that Joseph had a hard time understanding his story. What could God be doing?
It would have been easy for Joseph to become bitter towards God. His personal experience was brutal, but that is the issue that trips us up. We take everything personally.
Our life isn’t just about us. Our stories intersect with all sorts of other stories in order to carry out God’s good purposes.
Joseph’s hardship had nothing to do with his worth or whether God was at work in his life. Joseph’s hardships created the elements for the story of God preserving and building the nation of Israel.
Joseph ends up in service to the Pharaoh. He interprets a dream that forecasts seven years of abundance and seven years of famine. Pharaoh appoints Joseph to oversee the preparations for famine. In doing so, Joseph saves Egypt and his family who travels to Egypt in search of food. Eventually, Joseph’s entire family comes to Egypt and flourishes into a nation of a million people. That nation was designed to be a light to the entire world.
Josephs story wasn’t just his own. His story was Israel’s. His story became Jesus’ story. It is the church’s story. His story is your story.
Without Joseph being sold into slavery, history turns out much differently. Without the false imprisonment, Joseph never gets the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Joseph’s confusing hardships were essential to plans that reached far beyond his personal happiness.
Joseph knew this was true. After the death of his father, his brothers fear that Joseph will now take his revenge. He did not because he understood that God had a great purpose for his pain.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” -Genesis 50:20
You can find more on God’s purpose for pain here.
We never truly know exactly what God is up to in our lives, but it helps to know that it isn’t all about us. There is a much bigger plan…a much bigger story that God is telling.
So what do we do?
Walk with Jesus each day.
Trust that whatever path he has you on is contributing to a great story.
Believe that your role is vital.