When Life Gets Tough, God’s Doing Some Stuff
Why is he getting the promotion?
I can’t believe I wrecked my car!
Why does he/ she speak so harshly to me?
I should have saved more. Now I’m stuck.
How does my heart keep getting broken?
Why are my feelings and wishes always disregarded?
My job is sucking the life out of me, and my family is suffering. What do I do?
I can’t even look at my spouse anymore. I feel lost.
These are just some of the questions we ask ourselves, and thoughts we have running through our heads when we’re headed toward the pit of despair. It’s easy to get caught up in the “life’s not fair” or “life stinks” mindset, especially when we’re out of tune with our Heavenly Father.
Throughout scripture, we see God using people who fail miserably and endure hardship to accomplish the impossible.
- Look at Abraham, the Father of the nation of Israel. He tried to circumvent God’s best by having a baby with his wife’s maidservant, instead of trusting that the Lord would provide a son to him and Sarah.
- How about Joseph? At the age of 17, he was sold into slavery, and later was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned for more than a decade. He was 30 years old before he earned his freedom.
- Consider Moses, who tried to convince God that he couldn’t carry out the mission because of a speech impediment.
- How about David? At a younger age, David defeated Goliath with one smooth stone. But, as king, he rested on his laurels during war, then had an affair, which would lead to a downward spiral for him as a father and leader of a nation. But, God still considered him one “after my own heart.”
I could go on and on. The point is, if you read the “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say, we see God’s plan come together, not despite these drawbacks, but because of the adversity these great leaders faced.
You read that correctly. God uses dire circumstances to mold us and prepare us to carry out His plans for our lives – often times to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Why? Because there’s something about the lessons God teaches us in the midst of difficulty that we couldn’t learn any other way.
Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)
The Apostle Paul wrote: We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)
We don’t really embrace the notion that trials and suffering produce endurance, build character, and provide hope. Personally, my trials and suffering most often produce an upset stomach, stress, doubt, and depression. Just being honest.
Now, consider these thoughts and questions that may strike a chord with coaches and athletes:
- Parents are constantly riding me about their kids’ lack of playing time.
- We have a losing record again. I’m worried I may not have a job next season.
- I bust my tail each day, but I rarely get to play in the game.
- I can’t believe I am injured in the middle of the season. My team needs me, and I feel like I am letting them down.
- I was the #1 singles player last season, but now I am listed #2 or #3. My coach doesn’t recognize my talent.
- I lost the athletic scholarship at my #1 college, and now I don’t know what’s going to happen.
- Our best players from last season have graduated, and some of the returners have decided not to play this season. How will we measure up, when our competition has improved?
If you play or coach sports, you can certainly identify with these feelings of uncertainty, doubt, fear, and disappointment. But, here’s the good news…just because it involves athletics doesn’t mean God’s methods are any different. He still wants you to lean on Him to get you through the challenges you face.
I’ve heard it said that God won’t give you more than you can handle. I don’t believe that at all. I’ve been through situations in which I had more than I could handle.
I think the correct statement is that God will never give you more than HE can handle.
God isn’t too interested in seeing what you are made of. But, I do believe He wants to show what He is made of. And, once you truly believe He’s at work ALL the time, you’ll be able to see and experience the joy that comes when you persevere – both on the field, and in your life.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
Imagine that you could sit down and pick the brains of some of the top leaders in the country! That’s the premise behind the Linch with a Leader podcast. Learn how these leaders – all among the best in their respective field – have risen to the top, while continuing to grow spiritually and chase after the Lord.