In my previous post, I asked, “Are struggles a sign from God to stop or an opportunity to persevere?” In Scripture, we see examples of both.
In some cases in Scripture, struggles and trials are an indication that the person is going in the wrong direction (think about Jonah). In other cases in Scripture, struggles and trials come along because the person is going in the right direction, and God intends for them to persevere through the difficult times (think about all of Paul’s shipwrecks).
So, when we face difficulties, how do we know if God wants us to push on and persevere through the struggles or if God wants to us to stop or change directions because we’re going against his will?
The answer is both extremely simple and extremely complicated. God will tell us.
This is extremely simple because we do not have to worry about which direction to take. God will communicate that to us. Remember, he loves us more than we can ever realize. He is not like us; he does not take pleasure in his children going in the wrong direction; he does not sit back and laugh at our mistakes or make fun of us when we fail. He loves us. And, we can trust that he will communicate his desires to us.
But, the answer is also extremely complicated. The answer is not complicated because of God; the answer is complicated because of us. Although God communicates to use clearly, we do not always hear him clearly. We allow so many other voices and concerns and noises and worries and desires drown out his clear and loving directions.
Did you know that Paul did not always start out going the way that God wanted him to go… and, yes, I’m talking about after his conversion:
And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:6-10 ESV)
Even though Paul and his team headed in the wrong direction a couple of times, God continued communicating to them and did not give up on them. Also, did you notice that after Paul’s vision, the group (“we”) together concluded that the dream that God was directing them to go to Macedonia?
Yes, head in the direction that you think God wants you to go, and keep listening to him. Read Scripture and ensure that your plans are not contrary to what God has already revealed, and keep listening to God. Talk to the brothers and sisters in your life, listen to their advice, and keep listening to God. Always, always, always be ready to change directions. Never conclude that you’ve got it all figured out.
And, most of all, trust God.