When I came back to the Lord in my late twenties, one of the biggest surprises I encountered was that following God is not easy. We get sick and even go through financial, relational, emotional, and mental challenges.
My life actually became more difficult, but a hundred times more rewarding. As I poured over the Word of God, I was constantly reminded that God is for us, therefore, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)?
In short, nothing can prevent God from working in and through you. Even though demons are against you, the world hates you, carnal believers mock you, and friends and family may ridicule you, God is with you!
What is Causing the Storm?
A storm may be a time to build strength and endurance, or it could be a test. Although God’s sovereignty is my sanity, following His plans often brings challenges.
We should have peace in the center of God’s will but not freedom from difficult circumstances. At times, we may fight bouts of anxiety, depression, and fear. Many biblical heroes fought hardship and anxiety while being in the center of God’s will.
How can we determine if a challenge is the result of being in God’s will or because of disobedience? First, check your motives. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Second, focus on obeying God’s Word. This is the only way to truly stay on course. Third, is there a besetting sin that God wants to deal with? Like Jonah, sometimes storms are the result of disobedience.
Fourth, seek biblical counsel from those who will shoot it to you straight. Fifth, try to see challenges as opportunities for growth. Being in the center of God’s will does not prevent challenges; it often creates them.
Forewarned is Forearmed
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells the story of a wise man who built his house on solid rock (God’s Word) rather than on shifting sand (man’s philosophy). As a result, his house withstood the storm, but the foolish man who built his house on sand lost everything. Remember, both men encountered the storm; one was prepared the other was not. Adversity comes to all of us. We should expect storms, but we can only weather them successfully when we look to God for strength.
Genesis 25:21-24 gives a good example of this. Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, “because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” But it appears that Rebekah had a difficult pregnancy as the children struggled within her. She said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” In other words, if I’m in God’s will, why is this happening to me?
Challenges Change Us
Rebekah’s story is a great reminder that God’s will is not about our comfort. He often gives us a crisis to conform us and a challenge to change us. The Lord told her that two nations were in her womb and the fulfillment of that promise would not be easy.
Submitting to God’s will can be challenging for most people. But Rebekah and Isaac submitted to God’s plan. Submitting is yielding, and it’s a crucial piece of God’s will. What happens if you don’t yield at an intersection? You wreck your car, and you may wreck your life, too.
What’s Inside Spills Out
I remember watching a news story about an enormous oil tanker that sprung a leak off in the ocean. Because the tanker was full of oil, millions of gallons gushed into the sea; it was a horrific sight and an environmental disaster. In the same way, when we’re struck with a storm, what’s inside spills out. When you’re jostled or shaken, is anger, pride, unforgiveness, or selfishness exposed, or does adversity reveal patience, humility, forgiveness, and self-control?