When Life Doesn’t Feel Very Good

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

I love this verse and will often preach it to my own heart. Yet, if I am not careful, it’s easy to define “good” by my own standard. Good, to me, can mean it will all “work out” in a Disney movie sort of way. Good, to me, often means that it will go in a manner that makes sense and is logical. Good, to me, leaves me waiting for the pretty bow on the package of my life…for children to make wise choices, for a husband to understand my every emotional wave and tide, or for the worries and cares of life to float away and leave comfort and ease in their place . Without fully realizing it, I can begin to see the word “good” in a “prosperity” kind of way, though I would tell you over and over that I hate the false “prosperity gospel”. 

When I preach this kind of “good” to myself, I end up frustrated, discouraged and filled with doubting. I’ve led my own heart astray and have begun to cling to the idols of personal desires over the transforming work of the God who saved my wandering heart. I need to get back to the heart of God, as He has revealed himself in the pages of Scripture, and make sure I am keeping His beautiful truths and promises in their proper context. 

You see, the “good” of Romans 8:28 is defined in the very next verse!

“For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (vs. 29)

The good that God is working together in my life and in yours (if you are a child of the King), is that He is conforming us to the likeness of Jesus Christ! And He will use whatever it takes to accomplish that purpose and see it to completion. I think we are often robbed of so much joy in our Christian walks because we keep looking for physical, tangible, “good” to come out of our trials and pain; and when we don’t see it, we lose hope and begin to despair. We may even start to question whether Jesus keeps His promises. When our perspective is skewed our conclusions are faulty, as well. 

But, if we gain a proper perspective….seeing life through the lens of Romans 8:28 AND 29…we have much to rejoice in and can trust fully in the promises of God. We can rest in the fact that there is not one trial, pain, or tear that is wasted. He will finish the good work that He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6) and the good work has nothing to do with material blessings or gifts (though, many times, those are ours in abundance, too!). The good work is becoming like Jesus, for God’s glory and for our ultimate good!

I read a blog post by singer and author Matt Papa (get his book “Look and Live”…it’s fantastic!), and so appreciated his honest reflection. I couldn’t think of a better way to end this post than with his thoughts: 

“I have spent too much of my life, and my prayer life, asking for God to lead me into His “perfect will”.  “God lead me”. “Guide me”. “Use me”. “Bless me”.  While I know that God is a gracious, condescending God who meets us wherever we are, I sometimes wonder if God has been up there saying: “Um…yeah.  I’m Your Shepherd. That’s what I do.”

So there’s a problem revealed here.  If I really believed that God was good….that He was my dad who was all powerful and all knowing and all loving….then I wouldn’t be repeatedly begging him to lead me with this certain twinge of anxiety. I would relax. Dad’s got me. Chill.

But I don’t believe it, obviously.  And yet the problem goes deeper still.  If the pulse of my prayer life is set on my future (“God lead me, guide me, help me”), and not on God Himself (“Our Father who art in heaven”) then this has revealed that there is really a rival god in the mix.  An idol.  “Success” or perhaps “Comfort” or “Control”.  I want my best life now, not Jesus.  Really what I have been asking is….”God make my life go perfectly”.  “Make it exceptional.”  “Make my life epic.”

Now….there’s nothing inherently wrong with seeking God’s guidance.  But ask yourself this….”If the world could read my prayer journal….all in all…..would God look more like a genie or a treasure?”

Why are we so obsessed with “it” (God’s will) unless knowing “it” is more desirable to us than knowing “Him”?

Maybe God doesn’t want your life to be epic.  Maybe He wants it to be normal.  Maybe He wants your heart to be epic.  And the path to seeing this accomplished….your heart made more like his….will actually not come through the achievement of your plans but through their mutilation. God, for His children, will patiently and lovingly deny them of their desires until what they desire is Him.

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

What are you seeking?  God or something He can give you? Your happiness is at stake. Your soul is at stake.”

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.”  Psalm 62:5-7

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