If you think being a Christian won’t have struggles, trials, and persecution, you are as they say ‘in the wrong profession.’  Jesus says in John 15:20, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Despite knowing this, a lot of times, for me, when I bump into trials in my life, I start feeling like I have either done something wrong or that I shouldn’t have to go through this situation.  For me, both of these ideas go back to control and false expectations.

Let’s start with the idea of self-blame and control. Often when something doesn’t work or go my way, my first thought is usually that I did something wrong; it was my fault, or I am being punished.  Rarely do I stop and think that this is just part of God’s plan.  Why do I do that?  For me, and I suspect many others, self-blame is just another form of control. If it is all my fault, then I can find a solution and fix it next time. I am in control of the outcome.

On the other side, if something I don’t like happens and I’ve been doing things ‘right,’ I think nothing should happen to me.  Again, this is an unsupported expectation and also a means of control; if I do everything right, nothing bad will happen. These expectations and need for control only lead to frustration, anger, and loss of peace.

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
– James 1:2-4
(Patience here means the joyful endurance of the situation.)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
– Ephesians 2:10

So all we are in control of is our reaction to situations. He has preplanned what we are to face.  How are we to face it? With patience or the joyful endurance knowing that it is His plan.

My Opinion
Here is what I believe from reading Scripture and my life experiences. In the end, God wants us to have a relationship with Him, and He wants us to work on that relationship and to help as many people as we can also find a relationship with Him. That is the work of the Kingdom and why it exists. All of our experiences in life are there to bring us to this relationship or help others find that relationship. The circumstances that I find difficult are there either to bring me back to Him, help me understand Him better, or prepare me to help others find Him. That’s it.

Two Life Examples
From the time my oldest was born, I knew that one day he would have to venture out into the world. It was my job to protect him, but at some point, I wouldn’t be able to be right beside him to do that. As he got closer to starting school, I put him in self-defense classes.  If I wasn’t there, he would have to defend himself. My wife and I prayed about it, and we found a school to send him to. Although Ben didn’t complain about going to class, it was pretty rough.  Although he was never in danger, there were times of tears and sometimes dread.  Over time, he learned to hold his ground and do what was asked of him even if he had fear.  The real payoff came when he started school. If there was a bully or he was having a problem, he was able to handle it and say, “It wasn’t as bad as boxing.”

The point I’m getting at is that much like we put Benjamin in a difficult situation to get him ready for life, sometimes God takes us through difficult situations, because He knows the end from the beginning.  He knows what He will need us to do and what we need to be prepared for. Sometimes it isn’t punishment.  It’s preparation.  Remember from James 1 that the trying of our faith gives us endurance.

In our control, we think that we know what’s best, but we don’t know the end from the beginning. We don’t always know how today’s trial will fit into His purpose in the Kingdom. Remember in the last blog that I talked about some of my struggles growing up?  I talked about having a family member who struggled with issues related to his trauma. Well, guess what I did later in life?  I worked with veterans who had post traumatic stress (PTS). At the time, I had no idea that my dad also struggled with this.

One day sitting in a group session, I felt like I was 12 years old and back at home. I spent the next 10 years trying to help these people.  I wouldn’t say that I was a great therapist, but I really understood where these guys were coming from due to my childhood. I was able to give them compassion, acceptance, and better understanding of themselves, and I saw many of them make positive changes in their lives. They also helped me to better understand and accept my dad. In many of our conversations, my dad also helped me to better understand them. It is my belief that God put me in the family He did and gave me the experiences He did so that I could help these people and show them God’s love. Even though I may not have always liked it as a kid, He still had a perfect plan.

Accepting His Plan
So how do we use this to reduce our control and expectations that lead to negative emotions and no peace?  We must completely accept His plan.  Wherever I am at, whatever circumstance I am in, it is part of His plan.  Here are the questions that help me accept His plan.

First, am I in this situation because of something I did either because of trying to control or because of some sin in my life?  In other words, is God giving me this situation to help me correct my behavior or an attitude I have?  If the answer to this is yes, then I must work on changing this behavior. I pray, “Lord, help me to be aware when I am doing this.  Help remove this disobedience from my life. Thank you for bringing this situation to my life to help me be closer to you.”  If the answer is no, then I must accept that whatever circumstance I am in is for the Kingdom and to bring me closer to Him.  It is almost always to prepare me for what He wants me to be. In these situations, I pray, “Lord, thank you for bringing this situation into my life. Help me to understand that it is for Your plan and that all things work towards Your purpose.  Thank you for letting me be a part of Your plan.

In the end, we must accept that everything is in His plan, not just the things that we like or want. ALL THINGS ARE IN HIS PLAN.  By accepting this, I can walk in His joy and peace knowing that He is in control and makes all things perfect.

— Written by Jeremiah

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