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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Purpose and Plans


Are you one of those people who wrestles with meaning in life events?  You know, I mean the kind of person who faces hard things, and then tries to figure out what possible purpose it could serve in your life?  

You think, “Maybe this is to teach me patience or endurance.  Maybe I am going to come out a stronger person.” In doing so, sometimes you can drive yourself nuts trying to figure out a purpose, sometimes you can find a meaning that will help you through a rough time, sometimes you come up with an idea of what it’s all about only to find that it doesn’t work out at all, and sometimes you don’t have a clue!  

Regardless, there is something within us that longs for life to have meaning, for our hardship to have purpose, to have a sense that our lives are more than just random experiences that come our way.  

The good news is, that instinct within is something hardwired into us by God, because life does have purpose, each life has purpose by design.  We really are uniquely designed to fill a specific role God has for us during our days here on earth.  As a result, there is an inner longing to discover what our unique contribution is to be, and how the various experiences of life fit into that design.

When philosophers and theologians get caught up in this discussion, often included are conversations about free will, the role and existence of evil, and whether God allows painful experiences in our lives or designs them to be there for a specific purpose.  One of the answers I like best focuses not so much on the origin of those hardships, and instead emphasizes that God is able to take every experience of our lives and use it for good.  

That assurance frees us from trying to figure everything out, so that instead, we can watch and wonder as we see God take the hard things of life and use them in amazing ways.  The greatest example, of course, is the awful ugliness of the brutal and unjust crucifixion of Jesus which God used for the ultimate good, the purchase of our redemption and entry into eternal life with God.

Sometimes we may not grasp the good God is accomplishing this side of heaven, because it will only be explained in eternity.  For instance, I think of Abraham, who had been promised special blessings from God, but never saw any of them come to fruition while living on earth except the child, Isaac, who was born to Abraham and Sarah late in life.  But thousands of years later, God used Abraham’s obedience in a way that brought into existence Messiah Jesus in Bethlehem, resulting in making salvation for any who would come to him in faith—accomplishing something Abraham never would have imagined.  What good might God accomplish through your efforts to follow him in obedience?

One of the hardest experiences of my life was my divorce. It was something I did not want, something I did not believe was God’s desire, and something that was awful to go through.  

To this day I have a hard time understanding how God will use the various results for good. However, I have also become aware that the books I wrote to help people through divorce, could never have been written had I not gone through the experience myself.  

What makes that significant is that as a result, I have had opportunity to help people struggling in divorce by means of the book, the blog, and emails with individuals I have never met, but who have found the help they needed in these simple efforts.  I must say those things have given meaning to that difficult period of my life, and are ways God has done something good that I never would have expected at the time.

What things are hard in your life, right now?  What are you confused about, doubting that God could ever use it for anything good?  It’s okay if you can’t see it yet.  Wait, watch, endure, follow God as best you can, and one day, you will find that God will surprise you with a good you never imagined.  It is one of the best promises God has for those who love him! 

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